When as a child I
watched movies of World War II, I often felt sick to my stomach at man�s
inhumanity to man. But in the cosseted world of childhood and at a time when
the world was relatively a peaceful place it was easy to believe that those
atrocities were born of a different and more brutal age -- one that would never
return at least not in the so-called �civilized� West.
Today I am sickened
once more at the hurt Western governments force others to endure under the faux
banner of democracy and freedom. With horrific stories coming out of
Afghanistan and Iraq on almost a daily basis I have come to one conclusion:
during the post-World War II and post-Vietnam decades, our politicians and our
generals have learned absolutely nothing. And, perhaps even worse, we the
public are unwitting conspirators with our culture of acceptance and silence.
Most over-40s will
remember the sheer disgust they felt at the picture of a young napalm-inflicted
Vietnamese girl with her flesh peeling from her bones. At the time, it was
largely credited for swaying public opinion against the war. Napalm is a banned
substance, yet the US military has thought nothing of using this against
Iraqis, whose country was invaded on the back of a whopping lie.
As early as March
22, 2003 CNN�s Martin Savidge described how Safwan Hill was hit with napalm.
And thanks to a documentary �Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre," aired by
Italian Public Television, the Pentagon was forced to admit that it had,
indeed, used �Shake and Bake� munitions (white phosphorous) during its
so-called �pacification� of Fallujah. It further stated that although civilians
had not been targeted, it could not guarantee that they had escaped the vicious
use of this chemical.
In the same way the
Pentagon had earlier denied use of napalm and was made to retract, it initially
denied that white phosphorous had been used against insurgents or civilians in
Fallujah, insisting �they were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions
at night." Later, it put out a statement, saying it had been incorrect.
Even the phrase
�Shake and Bake� conjures up all kinds of ghastly images. Just what or who is
being �baked�? According to the documentary, the answer is ordinary people
lying in their beds, their skin and flesh having melted away leaving part of
their clothing intact.
This is how the
Iraqi girl blogger Riverbend reacted after watching the Italian documentary.
�I finally worked
up enough courage to watch it and it has lived up to my worst fears. Watching
it was almost an invasive experience because I felt like someone had crawled
into my mind and brought my nightmares to life. Image after image of men, women
and children so burned and scarred that the only way you could tell the males
apart from the females, and the children apart from the adults, were by the
clothes they were wearing . . . the clothes that were eerily intact -- like
each corpse had been burned to the bone, and then dressed up lovingly in their
everyday attire -- the polka dot nightgown with a lace collar . . . the baby
girl in her cotton pajamas -- little earrings dangling from little ears.�
How are Iraqis
supposed to view the occupiers when they witness scenes like this with their
own eyes? Just how would Americans or Britons feel if uniformed foreigners were
stomping all over their countries incinerating their kids? It�s a stupid
question, isn�t it because we all know the answer in advance?
But in this case
why are Iraqis expected to put up with these inhuman acts and keep quiet about
them, all the while pretending that they are strolling merrily toward some
farcical type of democracy, when, in reality, civil war is likelier on the
I am sure I�m going
to get e-mails from Americans who believe they are patriots telling me their
troops have been legitimately fighting �terrorists� but think about it. There
were no terrorists in Iraq prior to the invasion. There were no explosive
devices left on roadsides and there were no suicide bombers.
were no cluster bombs left around for children to pick up thinking they are
toys and find themselves without limbs in consequence.
Russell writing in the Independent reported �it is feared that thousands of
bomblets lie unexploded in Iraq, capable of maiming or killing innocent
civilians." He says, �Tony Blair is facing fresh fury over the use of
controversial munitions in the Iraq war,� while a report from the Diana
Princess of Wales Memorial Fund notes officials have done �little or nothing to
gauge the humanitarian impact of these weapons.� Heck, they haven�t even
bothered to count the numbers of Iraqi dead.
Once again, the
British government has been forced to admit using cluster bombs in built-up
areas, something which the Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram admitted was
illegal as far back as 2003.
And isn�t it the
height of hypocrisy that while the US and Britain went to war falsely accusing
Saddam Hussein of developing WMD, Iraq is now littered with depleted uranium
tank shells courtesy of the invaders?
Rokke, former director of the Pentagon�s depleted uranium project, has called
the use of depleted uranium �a war crime," noting, the war was about Iraq
possessing illegal WMD; �yet we are using weapons of mass destruction
ourselves. Such double-standards are repellant."
For those of you
unaware of the horrors of depleted uranium, it is thought to be responsible for
a massive increase in cancers as well as birth defects, such as digits fused
together, deformed skulls and eyes absent from their sockets.
The question I will
leave you to mull over is this. Saddam Hussein is an undisputed baddie, who
irreparably damaged his own country and his neighbors, but are we the
ostensible do-gooders, the sophisticates, the enlightened, the promoters of our
democratic way of life actually much better? I, for one, am not only thoroughly
ashamed but also downright angry. Why aren�t you?
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on
Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at email@example.com.