Socialist Worker

Bush and Blair's 'military targets'

'We want to minimise the suffering of ordinary Iraqi people. This is a war not of conquest but liberation' Blair, 24 March

Issue No. 1844

Bodies in Iraq

Bodies in Iraq (Pic: Al Jazeera)

The pictures on this page are horrific. But we make no apology for printing them. They show the reality behind the talk from smooth spokesmen and 'embedded' media correspondents about a 'clean war', 'smart weapons' and 'an offensive directed solely at Saddam Hussein's regime'. The truth is children's mangled bodies.

They were blasted by the swooping F-16s of the US Air Force at the end of last week as waves of jets targeted Basra. At least 50 Iraqis were killed and 366 injured as the planes bombed the city with weapons including cluster bombs.

These are the weapons of mass destruction Bush and Blair do not talk about. Those killed included two young children. Four were victims from one family. The pictures of the dead we show (and some much worse) were freely available to newspapers and television stations in Britain.

Not one used them-because the pictures show Blair is a war criminal. These killings in Basra took place even before the US and British governments made three key moves on Monday in the face of resistance.

They declared that Basra, a city of 1.5 million people, was 'a legitimate military target'. It is now a freefire zone for troops, tanks and aircraft. On the same day US planes also began bombing civilian areas in Nassiriya, population 600,000. And B-52 bombers, not planes with even a pretence of 'smart' bombs, started pummelling areas around Baghdad.

Already night after night huge explosions have rocked Baghdad. We do not know just how many have died but the pro-war Daily Mail's correspondent in Baghdad wrote on Monday, 'Dozens are dead, including as many as 60 women and children. The hospitals are full of those who have been caught in the fallout.

A dead child in Iraq

A dead child in Iraq (Pic: Al Jazeera)

'One little boy has his spinal cord snapped by a piece of shrapnel. One woman had lost a leg, another her child. Both were weeping. So was I.' On Monday a missile from a US plane smashed into the Al-Azamiyah area of west Baghdad, killing five civilians.

At least 57 people were killed when the US launched 70 missiles on an area in north eastern Iraq, near the town of Halabja. Four missiles fell on the village of Khormal where most of the victims were killed. One was Omar Mohammed Saeed. He left a widow, Aisha, and ten children. His nephew said, 'This makes us love Saddam, not America. We were happy when the US promised to get rid of Saddam and his regime. But this is replacing Saddam with another form of tyranny.'

The US killed five Syrians when a missile hit their bus on Monday. They were fleeing from the fighting when they were blown up at Rutba, in western Iraq. There will be more blood on Bush and Blair's hands in the days ahead. It will be civilians in residential areas, civil servants in government buildings, conscript Iraqi troops and people who fight back because they do not want their country seized by the US.

Whenever US military leaders feel threatened by resistance they turn to still more terrible weaponry. They will bring more death and suffering rather than contemplate the thought of defeat for their imperial project.

British Tornado warplanes have already been upgraded to use special 'bunker-busting' missiles named Storm Shadow. They cost nearly £1 million each and are designed to penetrate protective concrete. If they hit civilian shelters they will cause a horrendous massacre. The forerunner of the Storm Shadow killed up to 1,000 people in the Amariya shelter in Baghdad in 1991.

And in the south of Iraq on Monday the A-10 aircraft were using thousands of depleted uranium shells to deal with 'pockets of resistance'. If it were not for the global anti-war movement the scale of the slaughter would already have been much worse. The murder in Iraq should be the spur to redouble resistance against Bush and Blair.

Scorn for all their talk about freedom

'Our forces will be met with applause and sweets and flowers,' predicted the US Pentagon at the start of the war. The reality has been very different. Again and again there are reports of hostility to the invasion in southern Iraq. This is the heartland of the Shia minority that rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 but which was then abandoned by George Bush's father.

They are fighting despite the policies of Saddam Hussein's regime because they fear the US more. There have been some stories of smiling Iraqi children greeting British and US troops. They should be treated with care.

Justin Huggler wrote in the Independent on Monday, 'Reporters witnessed a group of Iraqi youths smiling and waving as a convoy of British tanks and lorries passed. 'But once it had gone, leaving a trail of dust and grit in its wake, their smiles turned to scowls. 'We don't want them here,' tutted 17 year old Fouad.' A report in the Wall Street Journal was headlined ''We Hate You,' Says A Local.'

It went on, 'Far from being hailed as liberators, US and British forces in southern Iraq have faced deep hostility and gunfire from residents. 'In the dusty town of Az Zubavr, south of Basra, some Iraqis in civilian clothes fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns at British and US troops. 'The Americans are destroying our country. There will be a fight,' said Ismail Hantilsh, an engineer at the Iraqi oil company. Nearby, a local tailor cradled his baby boy and said, 'We hate you. You are all criminals.' A few weeks ago, coalition officers in Kuwait were making plans to fly TV crews to film cheering crowds in southern Iraq. Instead some Iraqis react with scorn to the American radio broadcasts promising a massive rebuilding. 'All this talk about bringing us freedom, it's just talk. All we have seen here so far is only destruction,' says Najib al Zubairi, a local government employee.'

Reuters reported from Safwan in Iraq on Sunday that, 'Civilians in southern Iraq are beginning to wonder if US and British troops who have captured their towns are liberators or occupiers. 'I swear it was better when Saddam was here,' said Jamal Kathim, as his angry friends nodded in agreement. When Iraqis are not worrying about food supplies, they wonder why US helicopters have swooped down on their villages and allegedly fired on civilian vehicles. 'The Americans and British said it was going to be a liberation but this is an occupation,' said Majid, 15.'

'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. You take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power and water. In days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted.' This is what the US military wants to do to Iraqi civilians. Harlan Ullman is the US military strategist who invented the 'shock and awe' tactic.

Ullman explained last weekend that the US wants a 'merciless and overwhelming bombing campaign' to terrify the Iraqi population into submission.

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Sat 29 Mar 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1844
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