War thoughts

A friend in church was wearing a pin with US and UK flags on.  It felt very reassuring; we're on the same side, in Jane's words, "sticking together."  Dying together too.

I'm finding it really hard to pull together any cohesive thought about this war.  This is only the third time I remember being aware that my country was in battle against another, and both of those times it took place a long  way from home.  The others were the Falklands war in 1982, and the Gulf war in 1991.  I remember marking the start and end of the Gulf war on the calendar on my bedroom wall in my parents' house.

I'm still puzzled by the swiftness with which Iraq and Saddam Hussein  replaced Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden in the public eye.  Hussein is definitely a problem, no argument there, but Bin Laden seems to have been almost forgotten in the build up to fighting Hussein.

There are British reporters from the BBC in Iraq, some of them are keeping  a blog of events in  Iraq (link via Jordon  Cooper).

Mark Morris links to an opinion piece in the Telegraph: I  was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam by Daniel Pepper.  Go read the whole thing, this is just what stood out to me.

I wanted to join the human shields in Baghdad because it was direct action which had a chance of bringing the anti-war movement to the forefront of world attention. It was inspiring: the human shield volunteers were making a sacrifice for their political views - much more of a personal investment than going to a demonstration in Washington or London. It was simple - you get on the bus and you represent yourself.
So that is exactly what I did on the morning of Saturday, January 25. I am a 23-year-old Jewish-American photographer living in Islington, north London.  I had travelled in the Middle East before: as a student, I went to the Palestinian West Bank during the intifada. I also went to Afghanistan as a photographer for Newsweek.
I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver  taking me back to my hotel late at night. I explained that I was American and  said, as we shields always did, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good." He looked at me with an expression of incredulity.
As he realised I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam's regime. Until then I had only heard the President spoken of with respect, but now this guy was telling me how all of Iraq's oil money went into Saddam's pocket and that if you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family.
The [bus] driver's most emphatic statement was: "All Iraqi people want this war." He seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he  had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its  promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had.
Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis  thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we  explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come? "

Personally, I don't agree with humans being used to shield anything.  My hope is that this war is over swiftly, with minimal casualties on all sides.

Subscribe to Quantum Tea

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Follow me on Mastodon