Comment: The New Hiroshima

A Baghdad diarist is indeed "shocked" by US war plans to dominate Iraq.

Comment: The New Hiroshima

A Baghdad diarist is indeed "shocked" by US war plans to dominate Iraq.

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

With a heavy heart I open my e-mail a number of times a day to read endless opinions for and against the war. But since I received "Is Baghdad the new Hiroshima?" a few days ago I am dazed and haunted.

According to CBS News, my correspondent tells me, the Pentagon's war plan is based upon the "rapid dominance" theory of one Harlan Ullman, formerly "head of extended planning" in the US Navy and, during his tenure at the National War College, a teacher of Secretary of State Colin Powell. Ullman's theory calls for "800 cruise missiles in the first two days of the war . . . one every four minutes, day and night, for 48 hours."

The missiles "will destroy everything that makes life in Baghdad liveable," Ullman told CBS reporter David Martin. "We want them to quit; we want them not to fight. . . . You take the city down. . . . You have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima - not taking days or weeks, but in minutes."

"Shock and awe", Ullman calls it. Shock there will be. Awe less likely, as so many will be dead by then.

The disgraceful Arabs, who have never learned the meaning of "unity" or "initiative", met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh last week. All they produced, apart from a slanging match between Libya and Saudi Arabia, was a statement saying no Arab country should help with the war against Iraq. Yet most of them already have US forces stationed on their territory ready for battle. Does that give the US and Britain the right to occupy Iraq, to be the new colonial masters?

The US is waiting for the UN to give it permission to attack, but gives all indications of being ready to do it without permission. The UN, for its part, maintains a shameful silence as Israel invades Palestinian areas, demolishes, kills pregnant women and children and razes houses with people still inside - all this from behind the safety shield of missiles and armed vehicles. This silence is unlikely to change when the US attacks Iraq. The shock-and-awe tactic will mean there are no body bags to send home to America. Iraqi dead will be called "collateral damage" again and quickly forgotten.

Yet North Korea is allowed to go into nuclear production. The gentle North Korean people are to be dialogued with. No double standards here!

I talked to my 85-year-old mother in Baghdad a few days ago. Everyone there is going about his or her normal business, quite used to war tension by now. They seem quite fatalistic.

My neighbour was going to Baghdad and I asked my mother what I could send her. "Nuts, please," she said. So I sent nuts - and chocolates and water purification tabs - and I told her: "In case war starts, please move to my house in the orchard. It's so much safer than yours on the river . . ."

The river is always bombed, because of the bridges. And it acts like a tunnel. It carries so much noise - huge reverberations flow down it.

Another of today's e-mails says that US Marines have confirmed they have already shipped toxic riot control agents, CS gas, pepper spray and calmative gases - like those used in the Moscow theatre episode, when scores of people died? Meanwhile, in Iraq, the UN is dismantling and blowing up all Iraq's weapons. No double standards here!

The world is crying "no to war" but Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are single-minded and the B-52 bombers have already started arriving in Britain. I've been under those bombers in Gulf War I. The earth shakes even before they drop their lethal payloads.

The United Arab Emirates have suggested that Saddam step down to avoid war, but it doesn't look as if anything will satisfy the United States now except full control of Iraq. And the US will be there to stay. Like Israel in the occupied territories, it will put down roots. What's the difference between one occupying force and another? The US occupies Iraq to spare the world from terror, having convinced 65 per cent of Americans that al-Qaeda and Iraq are allies; Israel occupies the West Bank and Gaza to spare itself from terror.

As fast as Iraqi missiles are being destroyed, so the US and Britain increase their bombing of the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. Getting rid of Iraqi defences: getting ready for the invasion which I think has already started.

Nuha al-Radi is an Iraqi artist and author of the best-selling Baghdad Diaries, which she began to write in Baghdad during the last Iraq war. She now lives in Beirut.

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