Saturday, September 08, 2007

Bedless in Basra. A Review of a Predictable Disaster

A view of the British Basra withdrawal and the whole UK/US involvement in Iraq that you will not find in our supine mainstream media, where a consensus degree of 'Patriotism' (that last refuge of scoundrels) is de-rigeur. It would simply be too painful for us to have to recognise ourselves as anything other than the Goodies, wouldn't it? - 'With guns in our hands and God on our side' as the old Bob Dylan song has it; but the road to Iraqi Hell has been paved with Blair's claimed 'good-intentions'.

Felicity Arbuthnot is an Irish reporter who cuts through all the crap about our noble intentions to the catastrophe that we have visited upon Iraq. Her view is far closer to the truth of the matter than the official sanctimonious arrogance - and accords very much with my own. Here are a couple of brief excerpts:
"So the British have finally slunk off, in the dead of night, from their squatted palace in central Basra, to the old air base at Shuaiba, west of the city. The new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has worked hard to dress up slinking as victory. Our brave boys, he said, have brought to the South stability, they have rebuilt schools, hospitals, electric power stations (which they destroyed over thirteen years of illegal bombings during the embargo and then finally flattened in an illegal invasion.) Actually, speak to any one in Basra and they say they are by far worse off than under Saddam Hussein, who restored some semblance of normality, after 1991's forty two day carpet bombing, in just months, in spite of the embargo on a country which broadly, imported seventy percent of everything, including maintenance and essential materials."
During the embargo, the British and Americans flew together, in the south and the north, bombing painstakingly reconstructed essentials, built from cannibalized parts from another facility beyond hope. As soon as they were finished, Basra airport, water purification plants, electricity sub-stations, they were bombed again. The Iraqis repaired again, only for them to be bombed again. Now, we are told, the invaders must stay 'until Iraqis can stand on their own feet'. (Read: until we have helped steal the oil.) The bombing was often continual. One day, sitting in a cafe, a bombing rocked the area, the blast deafening. Crockery and cutlery rattled and fell. I jumped. No one else even looked up. It was the norm. Children were still losing life and limb from the 'bomblets' which were dropped in 1991, made to look like tempting shiny toys. How seriously sick are weapons designers?
Do yourself a favour. Read the entire piece and help yourself 'to see ourselves as others (with ample justification) see us'.

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