Questions lingering on the battlefield

The toppling of the despised regime of the Saddam is presented in the American media precisely as it was intended to be by the spin masters at the Pentagon. Yet, anyone with access to the Internet can find so many holes in this Swiss cheese that it leaves a paltry meal indeed. Even without too much researching, an average US citizen with an inquiring mind can immediately be puzzled by the chain of events and the questions they leave behind. Here are some basic questions that seem at odds with the line of the Bush administration.

Donald Rumsfeld stated on the first day after the initiation of the attack on Iraq that there were some discussion with leaders of the Republican guards and we would “hear more about that later.” Was the halt in the advance into Baghdad part of these negotiations and not really related to the minimal disruptions of the supply lines? Why was the airport the first important asset handed over in Baghdad with little resistance? Who was loaded on the cargo planes at Baghdad airport during the three days when much publicity was given to daring raids into Baghdad and attacks on Journalists and conflicts on strategy? What was the real purpose of the surprise entrance of American troops into the heart of Baghdad and quick retreat into the airport area? Does anyone believe that you would send an expeditionary unit into the middle of a defended city just for psychological pressure? Why did the Iraqis leave bridges standing unscathed (a basic feature of any rational defense near rivers is blowing up the bridges)? And earlier on, what was this business of a Russian diplomatic convoy being “mistakenly” attacked but instead of proceeding to Syria decided to double back to the war zone of Iraq? Basically why was there such stiff resistance in the South while apparently the resistance in Baghdad (where all of the forces were concentrated) was non-existent?

The concerted attack on the offices of Abu Dhabi TV, Al-Jazeera, and the Palestine Hotel (killing several journalists) raises even more questions. What was that about? And why did the attack on Baghdad’s electric power plant held off until just before these “operations”? Why was all of this done as planes were landing and taking off from the Baghdad airport which was essentially off limits even to embedded reporters in those crucial three days?

What was the real purpose of seizing the two small isolated airports near the Jordanian border by US Special Forces operating out of Jordan (also off limits to reporters)? While the Jordanian government proclaimed that no US forces initiated actions from Jordanian territory against Iraq, even the US Government implicitly acknowledged such cooperation. But in either case, the question is why? Evidently there was no missiles in the area threatening Israel with chemical attacks as was initially claimed.

One must ask why looting did not really transpire at the Ministries of Oil and the Interior (key ministries with records on natural resources) while it was rampant at all other civil ministries (water, environment, health, education etc.)? Why where the American troops instructed to guard certain “assets” while watching the ransacking of a national museum containing thousands of artifacts dating from the dawn of human civilization? Even after this museum was ransacked and the world cried in anguish, US troops where not given instructions to protect Iraq’s national library (equivalent to our library of Congress but with far older manuscripts)? Why didn’t any US leading journalist investigate the background and dealings of Rumsfeld’s henchmen: Chalabi, Khalilzad, and even Feith, Perle, and Wolfowitz?

As the fog of war and propaganda begin to dissipate, isn’t it time for some real journalism? Or are we becoming a mirror of Nazi Germany in the 1930s where the media acquiesced to a slowly fading democracy while the people of Germany where drawn into fascism and dictatorship (also using the same language of “threats to the homeland”). And talking about that, has any journalist really looked into the so-called PATRIOT II program? In the meantime, Exxon/Mobil, BP/Shell, Halliburton, and others are set to reap billions per year and the cabal around Bush will be comfortably employed by the think tanks in Washington DC that have originally loaned them to our government. Their books of triumph will be peddled by the same media. But when the real history of this war is revisited after a few decades, it will be seen as one of the most brilliant public deceptions in the history and one of the most devastating in its ramifications to global security.

This war in contravention of the UN charter devastated Iraq’s infrastructure and traumatized its people. But Iraq is now “open for business.” The US public is lulled with endless talk of a war on terrorism while tax breaks to the rich are enacted. Needed social and health care funds are drained to line the pockets of oil and military corporate executives. Meanwhile many more Americans and Iraqis lose their jobs leaving them few options. Thousands more US soldiers and marines (most from disadvantaged minorities) will come back to be added to the tens of thousands already disabled by the Gulf War Syndrome and effects of depleted Uranium. Iraq’s health effects will be far more long lasting and the battles continue. The US budget deficits will continue to grow and so will our national debt and we are only at the beginning (Syria is rumored to be next). Was Osama Bin Laden more successful than he ever imagined? Osama who?

(Dr. Mazin B. Qumsiyeh is Chair of the Media Committee, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.)

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