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Home > War On Terror

Hearts And Minds

We came, we saw, we conquered, we... erm.
What do we do now, Sarge?

16 May 2003

Make no mistake - Baghdad is in a fucking mess.

Statistics unpublished until today reveal the stark facts: 242 people have died in Baghdad in just over three weeks, almost all from bullet wounds. It is an epidemic, and it is getting worse.

The question is this: what sort of responsibility does the Anglo-American coalition have towards the populace of Iraq? Having freed them from Sadaam, what then?

The coalition has to be judged by its actions. Certainly, the military was proactive enough when the task was "winning the war" - they lanched a massive onslaught - hugely costly - they stormed in, blasted the hell out of everyone in their way, tore down the statues, gutted the palaces, blew up Sadaam's yacht - and they did all of this in the name of morality: good versus evil.

Have a look at George Bush Jnr's State of the Union address (January 29th). What's clear is that America operates internationally under the impetus of a moral imperative:

"Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted and defend the peace and confound the designs of evil men."

The President goes on:

"As our nation moves troops and builds alliances to make our world safer, we must also remember our calling, as a blessed country, is to make this world better."

And the war against Iraq was a direct result of this "blessed" calling "to make this world better".

Now, fast forward to this week, and the discovery of the mass grave in Iraq. This was Tony Blair's comment:

'I hope, for those people who had some doubt about the wisdom of removing Saddam Hussein, these reports of these mass graves are an indication of just how brutal, tyrannical and appalling that regime was and what a blessing it is for the Iraqi people and humankind that he is gone from power..."

Note: Blair is still talking of the war as "a blessing" for Iraqis. The coalition was fighting the good fight. The war was conducted in order to remove an "appalling" regime. But to replace it with what?

What now? Has the good fight been fought? Do we still care about the oppression and suffering of the Iraqis? Have we stopped caring? Because they haven't stopped suffering, and they haven't stopped dying.



Or is that only when the cameras and microphones are turned on?

Because if they are still concerned - genuinely - then we're just not seeing it. Now that the rolling news has stopped rolling, and Private Jessica is safe at home, it doesn't mean that for the people of Iraq life is good.

It's like going up to a patient with gangrene, cutting their leg off, smiling, posing for a photograph, then walking away. Erm - excuse me - could you help stop the bleeding...?

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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