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July 18, 2003

Is Iraq Hell on Earth?


No, shut up and sniff your glue

by Anthony Gancarski

Eric Holt is a 28 year old Reserve Infantryman from New York State. Standing guard outside Baghdad's Republican Palace the other day, he told a reporter from the London Independent his thoughts on the recent cakewalk: "We didn't win this war, not at all. I don't know what I'm doing here and I don't like what's happening in this city. It ain't right for the folks here. You know, there are a whole lot of our girls getting pregnant just so they can go home quick."

And who said the co-ed military was a bad thing? But never mind that unwed pregnancies are matters of course – that's to be expected when life is cheapened as it must be in a war zone. Remember the mindless, soulless rhetoric used to sell this war? Remember the septugenarian Rumsfeld, face powdered with enough pancake makeup to clog an air filter on the spot, orating about "shock and awe"? Remember the patriotic fervor such comments brought forth at the pro-war rallies conjured up by Clear Channel Communications?

Support your troops, they said. But the war pimps failed to add that the cameras would eventually be turned off, and that American troops would be outnumbered by the locals roughly 250 to 1. They failed to add that US troops would be on patrol for 14 hours a day, and that far too many of those troops would be National Guardsmen and reservists. Those troops, of course, stand as totem for the American people, who underestimated the desire of Iraqis to have the west leave them the hell alone.

Are they underestimating that desire now? Probably not. The mainstream media is aflutter with revelations that "the military is overextended." Gee whillikers, ya think? Who would've thought there'd be any negative consequences to a nation of less than three hundred million people having a military presence in every corner of the world?

Here's what a 26 year old female reservist said to the London paper: ""I've been in the army eight years and I can't do it any more, not after this. We're sitting here like targets and the Iraqis are getting bolder. They're taking a pop in broad daylight. When I heard we might get another six months I wanted to cry."

It's a damned shame, isn't it, that such admissions of human frailty didn't come before the war, when they would've done someone some good. The US has been involved in military action against the Iraqi people since 1991. Remember Desert Storm? How about the "enforcement of the no-fly zones"? Recall when Clinton teased an invasion of Iraq in 1998, enlisting every notable Congressional Democrat in his quest to disempower the Butcher of Baghdad?

The consequences of that military action were severe and look, from this vantage point, to be irrevocable. What happens when cultures are destroyed? Feminine virtue is cheapened; in the case of Iraq, one of the few "growth sectors" in the economy is prostitution. Families become incapable of rearing their children, leading to such phenomena as the recent upsurge in the popularity of glue-sniffing among Baghdad children.

A June 18th report from London's Daily Mirror unflinchingly [and weeks before the US mainstream media] detailed the horrors on the streets of Baghdad: "Filth and sewage swamp footpaths, and many streets are still covered in debris from "shock and awe'' bombing raids. . . Scores of homeless children lie by the roadside killing time and themselves by sniffing glue. . . . It is hard to find affordable food and water. Electricity is available for just a few hours a day."

What have we created for those people, if not hell on earth? Keep in mind that temperatures in the "dog days of summer" in Iraq routinely pierce the century mark. With insufficient food and water for a city of five million people, what has Baghdad become but a concentration camp? Thank God they're liberated, at least, from that repressive regime. Ain't that right?

Here in Jacksonville, a rented billboard recently bore the following message: "Pray for Scott Speicher". Speicher, as you may know, was the only POW from "Desert Storm", who the Hussein regime never accounted for to the satisfaction of Washington. Many war pimps used that fact to promote the 2003 invasion; we have to rescue Scott, they maintained, or else we just aren't true to American Values.

Speicher might as well be a chimera in the current context. Iraqis know no pleasure currently, and can't anticipate such. Like Speicher, they too, to a person, are Prisoners of War. But unlike in the case of Speicher, there are no billboards praying for their bodies or their souls.

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and LewRockwell.com. His web journalism was recognized by Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

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