Who Cares About Dead Iraqis?
Body counts, Rummy's plan, and the grisly stuff they don't want you to see
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist Friday, April 4, 2003
Dang that pesky collateral damage. Darn those brutal civilian deaths. Hundreds and hundreds of 'em, bloody decapitated mutilated bombed-out burned-out women and children and families, over there in Iraq.
Just another irritating little side effect, doncha know, of forcibly liberating a people who didn't really ask to be liberated and who are pretty much getting reamed from both ends and aren't exactly rushing out into the streets by the grateful thousands, as we had expected (except, finally, some in Najaf -- whew!) to toss flowers at the wide-eyed and confused U.S. troops and our well-armed Christian God and His almighty Starbucks franchises.
What happened there, anyway? Just bad PR? Someone miss a memo? Did no one tell them we are the Great Liberator, the bringer of peace and calm and nice big oil conglomerates that will soon help them "manage" all their hundreds of billions' worth of delicious natural resources? Haven't they seen the joy and happiness we have brought to Afghanistan? Oh wait.
Please believe it's not happening. Please ignore the actual data, the brutality, focus instead on the patriotism and the soothing sound of the war drum and the idea of liberation, as opposed to, you know, invasion. We don't want you to see. We don't want you to know. And we certainly don't want to make it easy for you to find out.
The U.S. military doesn't even "do" body counts. They actually said as much. Don't keep track of those dang dead civilians. We've got a repressed Islamic rubble-strewn nation to annihilate, they say, and a puppet government to forcibly install afterward and a whole hell of a lot of petrochemical companies lining up. We're a little busy.
And we've got lots and lots of sturdy and young and mostly poor mostly patriotically deluded U.S. troops to put in harm's way in the name of power and oil and Rummy's black-eyed sneer, many of our own troops dying from our own brilliantly termed "friendly fire," and what, you think we have time to keep track of how many foreigners we sort of accidentally blow up? Please.
Hell, a few dozen families, especially mothers and children, get themselves decapitated by a U.S. missile striking a civilian market -- hey, that's not our fault, is it?
After all, if Saddam hadn't been so downright evil in the first place, we wouldn't have to be invading his country and blowing up everything and killing children in the name of freeing them, and none of this would've happened, now would it? Beautiful is the logic of the Great Liberator. All hail.
Except that yes, it would have happened anyway, somehow, some way, because Dick and Rummy and Wolfie and about a dozen other ultra-conservative power-mad hawks had been planning and begging for this war for years. Yes, years. Before ShrubCo. Before 9/11. Before WMDs and Dick's defibrillator and Shrub embarrassing and humiliating this nation on a global scale, daily.
They had a plot all along. Oh yes they did. Overthrowing Iraq was to be merely the first step to forcibly restructuring the entire Middle East in the image of the U.S. and its corporate power interests. Their motto: First Iraq, then total power gluttony and empire expansion and big-ass cigars for everyone. More or less.
Way back in 1997, Dickie and Rummy and friends got together and drew up a vile little plan, called it the Project for the New American Century, and it included lots of info about nailing Saddam and reshaping the Middle East, along with a few other pesky countries, for good measure. According to ABC News, 18 neo-conservatives signed on to the plan. Ten of them are now in Bush's Cabinet.
And the plan was ugly and violent and military thick and war happy and it only needed a catalyst to kick it into gear, which 9/11 awkwardly provided, and a president other than too-smart Clinton to give it the smirking thumbs-up. And, lo and behold, BushCo illegally steals the presidency, and, boom -- here we are. Empire expanding, Iraqis dying. Neat! We are on plan.
The Iraqi civilian body count, at the moment, stands at somewhere between 600 and 800, so far, and climbing fast, and we haven't even finished annihilating downtown Baghdad yet, and guerrilla warfare is expected to last into the summer, so you can bet that number will jump exponentially in the days and weeks to come and you can bet that no one in the major media will really talk much about it or report on it or even show you the real pictures.
Especially not that, especially not the pictures, no horrific and grisly scenes of bombs falling on civilian markets, or homes, or schools. No shots of dead women and shredded limbs and crushed children's skulls, almost no actual blood at all. Amazing, isn't it? What a nice, clean war we are inflicting. How thoughtful we are.
Instead, we get scruffy journalists riding in tanks. We get grainy patriotic videophone shots of soldiers marching through dust, soldiers donning gas masks, soldiers clutching Bibles, soldiers looking absolutely dumbfounded and sad and forcibly patriotic as deep down they wonder just what the hell we are really doing over there and why they hell they can't just come home.
Oh wait, right, Saddam, big bad guy who supposedly is killing his own people with chemicals we sold to him, who has all these nasty WMDs we still can't find, who is supporting terrorists we can't verify and that even the CIA denies exist. Oh right, him.
The current coverage almost makes you think all those civilian deaths aren't really happening, that we aren't really killing hundreds, soon to be thousands, of innocents, that the scowling generals and sneering Ari Fleischer must be right when they stand up there and say we're trying to minimize civilian deaths, trying to bomb and crush as gently as possible.
All claiming that a trifle of collateral damage is just an unfortunate side effect, making it sound like we broke a couple dishes while cleaning up after dinner. Whoops gosh sorry about your dead family, there there now, here have some money.
No, it's not easy to find the truth, to see the real numbers or to see the true pictures of war. But there are some honest reports trickling out. Ghastly scenes of a brutalized people. A handful of reporters actually reporting on something other than troop movements and food supplies. But you have to really look.
And there are pictures. True images of war available. You need a steel stomach and hardened nerves to view them, but they are, in a way, required viewing, something almost everyone should see, especially those who wave flags and think we are so righteous and good and helpful.
You won't see them on CNN, or on GOP-lickin' Fox News, or even on this Web site. It's just too much. But if you want to know what Bush's little war is really inflicting, you might want to take a look. Here's just one site, from New Zealand, that's collected a number of such grisly images from foreign presses. Also includes photos of dead U.S. soldiers. Warning: Graphic content. Warning: Perspective altering. Warning: Breakfast ruining.
Oh sure they're all brutalized. Or dying. Or mutilated. Or burned. Or bleeding. Or emotionally devastated at the loss of their entire families to a U.S. attack.
Sure they're all, you know, dead. But hey, at least they're liberated. All hail.