Is About To Explode
By Robert Fisk
03 August, 2004
war is a fraud. Im not talking about the weapons of mass destruction
that didnt exist. Nor the links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda
which didnt exist. Nor all the other lies upon which we went to
war. Im talking about the new lies.
For just as, before
the war, our governments warned us of threats that did not exist, now
they hide from us the threats that do exist. Much of Iraq has fallen
outside the control of Americas puppet government in Baghdad but
we are not told. Hundreds of attacks are made against US troops every
month. But unless an American dies, we are not told. This months
death toll of Iraqis in Baghdad alone has now reached 700 the
worst month since the invasion ended. But we are not told.
The stage management
of this catastrophe in Iraq was all too evident at Saddam Husseins
trial. Not only did the US military censor the tapes of
the event. Not only did they effectively delete all sound of the 11
other defendants. But the Americans led Saddam Hussein to believe
until he reached the courtroom that he was on his way to his
execution. Indeed, when he entered the room he believed that the judge
was there to condemn him to death. This, after all, was the way Saddam
ran his own state security courts. No wonder he initially looked disorientated
CNNs helpful description because, of course, he
was meant to look that way. We had made sure of that. Which is why Saddam
asked Judge Juhi: Are you a lawyer? ... Is this a trial?
And swiftly, as he realized that this really was an initial court hearing
not a preliminary to his own hanging he quickly adopted
an attitude of belligerence. But dont think were going to
learn much more about Saddams future court appearances. Salem
Chalabi, the brother of convicted fraudster Ahmad and the man entrusted
by the Americans with the tribunal, told the Iraqi press two weeks ago
that all media would be excluded from future court hearings. And I can
see why. Because if Saddam does a Milosevic, hell want to talk
about the real intelligence and military connections of his regime
which were primarily with the United States.
Living in Iraq these
past few weeks is a weird as well as dangerous experience. I drive down
to Najaf. Highway 8 is one of the worst in Iraq. Westerners are murdered
there. It is littered with burnt-out police vehicles and American trucks.
Every police post for 70 miles has been abandoned. Yet a few hours later,
I am sitting in my room in Baghdad watching British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, grinning in the House of Commons as if he is the hero of a school
debating competition; so much for the Butler report.
any Western television station in Baghdad these days is like tuning
in to Planet Mars. Doesnt Blair realize that Iraq is about to
implode? Doesnt Bush realize this? The American-appointed "government
controls only parts of Baghdad and even there its ministers and
civil servants are car-bombed and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut,
Mahmoudiya, Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government authority.
Iyad Allawi, the prime minister, is little more than mayor
of Baghdad. Some journalists, Blair announces, almost
want there to be a disaster in Iraq. He doesnt get it. The
disaster exists now.
When suicide bombers
ram their cars into hundreds of recruits outside police stations, how
on earth can anyone hold an election next January? Even the National
Conference to appoint those who will arrange elections has been twice
postponed. And looking back through my notebooks over the past five
weeks, I find that not a single Iraqi, not a single American soldier
I have spoken to, not a single mercenary be he American, British
or South African believes that there will be elections in January.
All said that Iraq is deteriorating by the day. And most asked why we
journalists werent saying so.
But in Baghdad,
I turn on my television and watch Bush telling his Republican supporters
that Iraq is improving, that Iraqis support the coalition,
that they support their new US-manufactured government, that the war
on terror is being won, that Americans are safer. Then I go to
an Internet site and watch two hooded men hacking off the head of an
American in Riyadh, tearing at the vertebrae of an American in Iraq
with a knife. Each day, the papers here list another construction company
pulling out of the country. And I go down to visit the friendly, tragically
sad staff of the Baghdad mortuary and there, each day, are dozens of
those Iraqis we supposedly came to liberate, screaming and weeping and
cursing as they carry their loved ones on their shoulders in cheap coffins.
I keep re-reading
Tony Blairs statement. I remain convinced it was right to
go to war. It was the most difficult decision of my life. And
I cannot understand it. It may be a terrible decision to go to war.
Even Chamberlain thought that; but he didnt find it a difficult
decision because, after the Nazi invasion of Poland, it was the
right thing to do. And driving the streets of Baghdad now, watching
the terrified American patrols, hearing yet another thunderous explosion
shaking my windows and doors after dawn, I realize what all this means.
Going to war in Iraq, invading Iraq last year, was the most difficult
decision Blair had to take because he thought correctly
that it might be the wrong decision. I will always remember his remark
to British troops in Basra, that the sacrifice of British soldiers was
not Hollywood but real flesh and blood. Yes, it was real
flesh and blood that was shed.
is authorized, it says on checkpoints all over Baghdad. Authorized
by whom? There is no accountability. Repeatedly, on the great highways
out of the city US soldiers shriek at motorists and open fire at the
least suspicion. We had some Navy Seals down at our checkpoint
the other day, a 1st Cavalry sergeant says to me. They asked
if we were having any trouble. I said, yes, theyve been shooting
at us from a house over there. One of them asked: That house?
We said yes. So they have these three SUVs and a lot of weapons made
of titanium and they drive off towards the house. And later they come
back and say Weve taken care of that. And we didnt
get shot at any more. What does this mean? The Americans are now
bragging about their siege of Najaf. Lt. Col. Garry Bishop of the 37th
Armored Divisions 1st Battalion believes it was an ideal
battle (even though he failed to kill or capture Moqtada Sadr whose
Mehdi army were fighting the US forces). It was ideal,
Bishop explained, because the Americans avoided damaging the holy shrines
of the Imams Ali and Hussein. What are Iraqis to make of this? What
if a Muslim army occupied Kent and bombarded Canterbury and then bragged
that they hadnt damaged Canterbury Cathedral? Would we be grateful?
What, indeed, are we to make of a war which is turned into a fantasy
by those who started it? As foreign workers pour out of Iraq for fear
of their lives, US Secretary of State Colin Powell tells a press conference
that hostage-taking is having an effect on reconstruction.
Effect! Oil pipeline explosions are now as regular as power cuts. In
parts of Baghdad now, they have only four hours of electricity a day;
the streets swarm with foreign mercenaries, guns poking from windows,
shouting abusively at Iraqis who dont clear the way for them.
This is the safer Iraq which Blair was boasting of the other
day. What world does the British government exist in?
News © 2003