Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  

Shock and Awe Blowback

Along with everyone else in the world, I had stupidly fallen into the mind set that this war was gonna be a quickie. Twelve years of sanctions, grinding poverty, torture dungeons--you figure morale's pretty low. What the hell, the Americanos are coming in, can't be any worse--let's give them a try. My swiss-cheese-like memory can't be expected to think back before Afghanistan and Bosnia, so what other model did I consider? (Also, I had Wake Forest playing in the finals, so what do I know?)


Turns out this is going to be a real war--better hold off for a minute on the ticker-tape parade. Turns out the US's military isn't invulnerable. Turns out the people aren't exactly welcoming their "liberators" with open arms. Hell, even the weather's not cooperating. Is this just the stuff of war, or was there evidence that this was going to be tougher than it looked?

Everything's clearer in retrospect, but there were signs. Paramount among them was this idea that the US would be regarded as a trustworthy alternative to Saddam. Why on earth would it be? In the past 15 years, the Iraqi people have been betrayed by the US almost as often as they have by Saddam.

• From ally during the Iran/Iraq war to foe during the Kuwait invasion (even leaving aside the issue of whether the US gave permission to invade);

• Failure to take Saddam out during the Kuwait debacle, which placed pro-American supporters at Saddam’s mercy;

• Iraqis watched as the US twice sold out the Kurds, most recently offering Northern Iraq to Turkey as part of the pay-off for Turkish land.

Into that context rides George W. Bush, a wild-eyed cowboy who smugly ignores international will. When the issue of Iraq arises, he ignores the UN. And when the war begins, he tries to achieve compliance through the practice of “shock and awe.”

Let’s see now, why exactly did we think the Iraqis were going to run into the streets with open arms?

I’m not a very good informant on all of this. Like others, I’m having a hard time mustering the strength to watch this all play out. So maybe it will turn out all right. Maybe the Iraqis will put down their guns. I know the US won’t, so I hope the Iraqis will. All I sense is a lot of death in the offing. But I have to admit, I can’t blame the Iraqis for not laying their guns down—I wouldn’t trust George, either. It’s a horrible crime that the Iraqis have to pay the price for America’s history of betrayal.

(I know, I know, you’re gonna torch me with that Chomsky anti-American argument. But before you do, look at it from the perspective of the average Iraqi resident.)

posted by Jeff | 1:36 PM |
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