Day Of The Jackals
03 June , 2003
Mesopotamia. Babylon. The
Tigris and Euphrates. How many children, in how many classrooms, over
how many centuries, have hang-glided through the past, transported on
the wings of these words?
And now the bombs have fallen,
incinerating and humiliating that ancient civilization.
On the steel torsos of their
missiles, adolescent American soldiers scrawled colorful messages in
childish handwriting: "For Saddam, from the Fat Boy Posse."
A building went down. A market
place. A home. A girl who loved a boy. A child who only ever wanted
to play with his older brothers marbles.
On the March 21--the day
after American and British troops began their illegal invasion and occupation
of Iraq--an "embedded" CNN correspondent interviewed an American
soldier. "I wanna get in there and get my nose dirty," Private
A.J. said. "I wanna take revenge for 9/11."
To be fair to the correspondent,
even though he was "embedded," he did sort of weakly suggest
that so far there was no real evidence that linked the Iraqi government
to the September 11, 2001, attacks. Private A.J. stuck his teenage tongue
out all the way down to the end of his chin. "Yeah, well, that
stuffs way over my head," he said.
When the United States invaded
Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of
the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible
for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
And an ABC news poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that
Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaeda. None of this opinion is
based on evidence (because there isnt any). All of it is based
on insinuation, auto-suggestion and outright lies circulated by the
U.S. corporate media.
Public support in the U.S.
for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood
and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified
by the press.
We had the invented links
between Iraq and al-Qaeda. We had the manufactured frenzy about Iraqs
"weapons of mass destruction." No weapons of mass destruction
have been found. Not even a little one.
Now--after the war has been
fought and won, and the contracts for reconstruction have been signed
and sealed--the New York Times reports that "The Central Intelligence
Agency has begun a review to try to determine whether the American intelligence
community erred in its prewar assessments of Saddam Husseins government
and Iraqs weapons programs."
Meanwhile, in passing, an
ancient civilization has been casually decimated by a very recent, casually
Throughout more than a decade
of war and sanctions, American and British forces fired thousands of
missiles and bombs on Iraq. Iraqs fields and farmlands were shelled
with three hundred tons of depleted uranium.
In their bombing sorties,
the Allies targeted and destroyed water treatment plants, aware of the
fact that they could not be repaired without foreign assistance. In
southern Iraq, there was a fourfold increase in cancer among children.
In the decade of economic
sanctions that followed the war, Iraqi civilians were denied medicine,
hospital equipment, ambulances, clean water--the basic essentials.
About half a million Iraqi
children died as a result of the sanctions.
The corporate media played
a sterling role in keeping news of the devastation of Iraq and its people
away from the American public. It has now begun preparing the ground
with the same routine of lies and hysteria for a war against Syria and
Iran--and, who knows, perhaps even Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps the next war will
be the jewel in the crown of George Bushs 2004 election campaign.
Though he may not need to go to such great lengths since the Democrats
have announced that their strategy for the 2004 election is to charge
that the Republicans are weak on national security. Its like a
small-town teenage bully telling the Mafia it has too many scruples.
election sounds as though it will be a complete waste of everybodys
time. Although thats not exactly breaking news.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq
was perhaps the most cowardly war ever fought in history.
After using the "good
offices" of UN diplomacy (economic sanctions and weapons inspections)
to ensure that Iraq was brought to its knees, after making sure that
most of its weapons had been destroyed, the "Coalition of the Willing"--better
known as the Coalition of the Bullied and Bought--sent in an invading
Then the corporate media
gloated that the United States had won a just and astonishing victory!
TV watchers witnessed the
joy that the U.S. Army brought to ordinary Iraqis. All those newly liberated
people waving American flags, which they must have somehow hoarded during
the years of sanctions.
Never mind that the toppling
of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square (shown over and over
on TV) turned out to be a carefully choreographed charade played out
by a handful of hired extras coordinated by the U.S. Marines. Robert
Fisk called it the "most staged photo-op since Iwo Jima."
Never mind that in the days
that followed, American soldiers fired into a crowd of peaceful, unarmed
Iraqi demonstrators who were demanding that U.S. troops leave their
country. Fifteen people were shot dead.
Never mind that a few days
later, U.S. soldiers killed two more and injured several people who
were protesting the fact that peaceful demonstrators were being killed.
Never mind that they murdered 17 more people in Mosul.
Never mind that in the days
to come, the killing will continue. (But it wont be on TV.)
Never mind that a secular
country is being driven to religious sectarianism.
Never mind that the U.S.
government helped Saddam Husseins rise to power and supported
him through his worst excesses, including the eight-year war against
Iran and the 1988 gassing of Kurdish people in Halabja, crimes which
14 years later were reheated and served up as reasons to justify going
to war against Iraq.
Never mind that after the
first Gulf War, the Allies fomented an uprising of Shias in Basra, and
then looked away while Saddam Hussein crushed the revolt and slaughtered
thousands in an act of vengeful reprisal.
After the invasion of Iraq,
Western TV channels ghoulish interest in the mass graves they
discovered evaporated quickly when they realized that the bodies were
of Iraqis who had been killed in the war against Iran and the Shia uprising...The
search for an appropriate mass grave continues.
Never mind that U.S. and
British troops had orders to kill people, but not to protect them. Their
priorities were clear. The safety and security of Iraqi people was not
The security of whatever
little remained of Iraqs infrastructure was not their business.
But the security and safety of Iraqs oilfields was. The oilfields
were "secured" almost before the invasion began.
Its worth noting that
the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which is in far worse condition than
Iraq, hasnt merited the same evangelical enthusiasm in reconstruction
that Iraq has. Even the money that was so publicly promised to Afghanistan
has not for the most part been handed over.
Could it be because Afghanistan
has no oil? It has a route for a pipeline, true, but no oil. So there
isnt much money to be extracted from that vanquished country.
On the other hand, we were
told that contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq could jumpstart the
world economy. Its funny how the interests of American corporations
are so often, so successfully, and so deliberately confused with the
interests of the world economy.
The talk about Iraqs
oil for Iraqis and a war of liberation and democracy and representative
government had its time and place. It had its uses. But things have
Having escorted a 7,000-year-old
civilization into anarchy, George Bush has announced that the U.S. is
in Iraq to stay "indefinitely." The U.S., in effect, has said
that Iraq can only have a representative government if it represents
the interests of Anglo-American oil companies. In other words, you can
have free speech as long as you say what I want you to say.
On May 17, the New York Times
said, "In an abrupt reversal, the United States and Britain have
indefinitely put off their plan to allow Iraqi opposition forces to
form a national assembly and an interim government by the end of the
month. Instead, top American and British diplomats leading reconstruction
efforts here told exile leaders in a meeting tonight that allied officials
would remain in charge of Iraq for an indefinite period."
Long before the invasion
began, the worlds business community was tingling with excitement
about the scale of money that the reconstruction of Iraq would involve.
It has been billed as "the biggest reconstruction effort since
the Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe after World War Two."
Bechtel Corp., based in San
Francisco, is leading the pack of jackals moving in to Iraq.
Coincidentally, former Secretary
of State George Schultz is on the board of directors of Bechtel, and
happens also to have served as the chairman of the advisory board of
the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.
When asked by the New York
Times whether he was concerned about the appearance of a conflict of
interest, Shultz said, "I dont know that Bechtel would particularly
benefit from it. But if theres work to be done, Bechtel is the
type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something
you benefit from."
Bechtel already has a contract
for $680 million, but, according to the New York Times, "[I]ndependent
estimates are that the final cost for the reconstruction effort of the
extent outlined in Bechtels contract with USAID would be $20 billion."
In an article appropriately
headlined "Feeding Frenzy Under Way, as Companies From All Over
Seek a Piece of the Action," the Times notes (without irony) that
"governments around the world and the companies whose causes they
support have besieged Washington in a campaign to win a piece of the
reconstruction action in Iraq."
the article notes, "though their appeals are understated, offer
what some Bush administration officials argue is the most convincing
case: that they shed blood in Iraq."
Whose blood was shed has
not been clarified. Surely they didnt mean British blood, or American
blood. They must have meant the British helped the Americans to shed
So "the most convincing
case" for reconstruction contracts is when a country can argue
that it is a co-murderer of Iraqis.
Lady Simmons, the deputy
leader of the UK House of Lords, recently traveled to America with four
leaders of British industry. Apart from staking their claim to contracts
based on their status as co-murderers, the British delegation also invoked
their colonial past, again without irony, making the case that British
companies "had a long and close relationship with Iraq and Iraqi
business from the imperial days in the early 20th century until international
sanctions were imposed in the 1990s." Glossing over, of course,
that this meant Britain had supported Saddam Hussein through the 1970s
Those of us who belong to
former colonies think of imperialism as rape. So you rape. Then you
kill. Then you demand the right to rape the corpse. Thats usually
known as necrophilia.
Extending this horrible analogy,
Richard Perle said recently, "Iraqis are freer today and we are
safer. Relax and enjoy it."
A few days into the war,
the news anchor Tom Brokaw said: "One of the things we dont
want to do...is to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq because in a few
days were going to own that country."
Now the ownership deeds are
being signed. Iraq is no longer a country. Its an asset.
Its no longer ruled.
And it is owned for the most
part by Bechtel. Maybe Halliburton and a British company or two will
get a few bones.
Our battle has to be against
both the occupiers and the new owners of Iraq.