War News for Monday, July 25, 2005
Bring 'em on: Twenty two killed and twenty five injured in suicide truck bomb attack on a police station in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Marine killed in explosion in Rutbah
Bring 'em on: Police chief assassinated on way to work in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Young girl and six wounded in roadside bomb attack in Hillah
Bring 'em on: Police Lieutenant-Colonel assassinated in Kirkuk
I get mail
: Salam Adil says "The new silk route will be a pipeline that pumps oil from Iraq, via Iran to China and goods will fly back from China to the Middle East."
Opinion and Commentary
Yet another shameful Milestone
Another successful landmark has been reached in our occupation of Iraq: The World Monuments Fund has just placed the country on its list of the Earth's 100 most endangered sites. ("Widespread looting, military occupation, artillery fire, vandalism, and other acts of violence are devastating Iraq, long considered the cradle of human civilization.") This is the first time that the Fund has ever put a whole nation on its list and so represents a singular accomplishment for the Bush administration, which knew not -- and cared less -- what it wrought.
The destruction began as Baghdad fell. Words disappeared instantly. They simply blinked off the screen of Iraqi history, many of them forever. First, there was the looting of the National Museum. That took care of some of the earliest words on clay, including, possibly, cuneiform tablets with missing parts of the epic of Gilgamesh. Soon after, the great libraries and archives of the capital went up in flames and books, letters, government documents, ancient Korans, religious manuscripts, stretching back centuries -- all those things not pressed into clay, or etched on stone, or engraved on metal, just words on that most precious and perishable of all commonplaces, paper -- vanished forever. What we're talking about, of course, is the flesh of history. And it was no less a victim of the American invasion -- of the Bush administration's lack of attention to, its lack of any sense of the value of what Iraq held (other than oil) -- than the Iraqi people. All of this has been, in that grim phrase created by the Pentagon, "collateral damage."
Worse yet, the looting of antiquity, words and objects, not only never ended but seems to have accelerated. From well organized gangs of grave robbers to American engineers building bases to American soldiers taking souvenirs, the ancient inheritance not just of Iraqis but of all of us has simply headed south. According to Reuters, more than 1,000 Iraqi objects of antiquity have been confiscated at American airports; priceless cylinder seals are evidently selling on-line at eBay for a few hundred dollars apiece; and this represents just the tiniest fraction of what's gone. The process is not only unending, but in the chaos that is America's Iraq beyond counting or assessing accurately.
Though less attended to than the human costs of the war (which, in turn, have been poorly attended to), such crimes against history are no small matter, as Chalmers Johnson indicates below. Johnson, who produced Blowback, a now classic account of how we got to September 11, 2001 (though published well before those attacks occurred), and a singular study of American militarism, The Sorrows of Empire, is now working on the third volume of his Blowback Trilogy, Nemesis: The Crisis of the American Republic.
Stick to cricket, mate
The impasse was broken when then SAS Commanding Officer Lt-Col Gus Gilmore flew back to America and nailed down the result for the Australians.
They also made it clear that Australian forces would not participate in a "regime change" mission. It had to be about weapons of mass destruction.
"When they were at loggerheads you'd send the signaller in first and he'd do his Steve Irwin impersonation, going, 'Crikey, what's going on here' . . . so they'd fall off their chairs laughing," Mr Tinley said. "It broke the tension."
The ploy usually worked, but it was the Australians' close relationship with US Special Forces honed during the Afghanistan campaign that won the day. "The support we got and the jobs we got in western Iraq were largely delivered by the goodwill that we'd developed in Afghanistan," Mr Tinley said.
This is what
depresses me when I post on Today in Iraq:
Body parts that had been hurled by an explosion over the 30ft high concrete wall a week earlier were still being picked up when the second suicide bomber struck last week.
But, in an extraordinary display of optimism, the youngsters hopeful of being recruited into the forces still come to queue.
In the last attack a group of potential recruits had crossed the road to buy a soft drink when their killer, spotting the soft target, detonated himself in their midst, killing 10 of them.
Just read Billmon