By Robert, Sam and Nat Parry
March 18, 2008
Editor’s Note: The Iraq War – now ending its fifth bloody year – represents not only a human tragedy of enormous consequence and possibly the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history but also a systemic failure of American political and journalistic institutions.
Instead of checking George W. Bush’s imperial impulse for the good of the Republic, the Congress – including Sen. Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats – and the national press corps tended to their careers and their political viability.
In recognition of this tragedy – and in honor of the thousands of American dead and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead – we are publishing the first of two excerpts from Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush:
Iraq’s “Day of Liberation” – as George W. Bush called it – was supposed to begin with a bombardment consisting of 3,000 U.S. missiles delivered over 48 hours, 10 times the number of bombs dropped during the first two days of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
Officials, who were briefed on the plans, said the goal was to so stun the Iraqis that they would simply submit to the overwhelming force demonstrated by the U.S. military. Administration officials dubbed the strategy “shock and awe.”
In his 2003 State of the Union speech, Bush had addressed the “brave and oppressed people of Iraq” with the reassuring message that “your enemy is not surrounding your country – your enemy is ruling your country.”
Bush promised that the day that Saddam Hussein and his regime “are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.”
But never before in history had a dominant world power planned to strike a much weaker nation in a preemptive war with such ferocity. It would be liberation through devastation.
Many projections expected the deaths of thousands of Iraqi non-combatants, no matter how targeted or precise the U.S. weapons. For those civilians, their end would come in the dark terror of crushing concrete or in the blinding flash of high explosives.
In the prelude to the invasion, the United Nations predicted possibly more than 500,000 civilians injured or killed during the war and its aftermath and nearly one million displaced from their homes.
Iraq War as War Crime (Part Two)
By Robert, Sam and Nat Parry
March 19, 2008
Editor’s Note: From the start of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the toll on Iraqi civilians and on out-gunned Iraqi soldiers was staggering. Indeed, that appears to have been part of the message Bush’s neocon advisers wanted to send to other countries that might think of resisting Washington’s imperial ambitions.
Yet back home, most of the horror was kept out of view for Americans watching on TV who wanted to feel good about their brave soldiers and not think much about how their country was crossing a line into an imperial aggressor.
On the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq — and in honor of all who have died — we are publishing the second part of an excerpt from Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush:
Despite the stiffer-than-expected resistance, the U.S. military continued to blast its way toward its goal of toppling Saddam Hussein.
From the first days of the war, that violence took a heavy toll on Iraq’s civilians, though the bloody images were often sanitized from the American broadcasts so as not to dampen the war enthusiasm and depress the TV ratings.
The Bush administration’s lack of sensitivity about civilian casualties was reflected in the hasty decision to bomb a residential restaurant where Hussein was thought to be eating. It turned out that the intelligence was wrong, but that wasn’t discovered until after the restaurant was leveled and 14 civilians, including seven children, were killed.
One mother hysterically sought her daughter and collapsed when the headless body was pulled from the rubble.
“When the broken body of the 20-year-old woman was brought out torso first, then her head,” The Associated Press reported, “her mother started crying uncontrollably, then collapsed.”
The London Independent cited this restaurant attack as one that represented “a clear breach” of the Geneva Conventions ban on bombing civilian targets.
Hundreds of other civilian deaths were equally horrific. Saad Abbas, 34, was wounded in an American bombing raid, but his family sought to shield him from the greater horror. The bombing had killed his three daughters – Marwa, 11; Tabarek, 8; and Safia, 5 – who had been the center of his life.
“It wasn’t just ordinary love,” his wife said. “He was crazy about them. It wasn’t like other fathers.”
The horror of the war was captured, too, in the fate of 12-year-old Ali Ismaeel Abbas, who lost his two arms when a U.S. missile struck his Baghdad home. Ali’s father, pregnant mother and siblings were all killed.
As he was evacuated to a Kuwaiti hospital, becoming a symbol of U.S. compassion for injured Iraqi civilians, Ali said he would rather die than live without his hands.
For its part, the Bush administration announced that it had no intention of tallying the number of Iraqi civilians who were killed in the war.
by Robert Parry, Sam Parry and Nat Parry