TAKING IT FROM THE TOP 

TAKING IT FROM THE TOP

THE UN BOMBING IN IRAQ If you have a high-speed connection, and you have a strong stomach, you might want -- note, I say, might -- to view this unedited CBS News "as it happened" footage of the UN bombing today [Tuesday] in Baghdad: CBSNews.com or try: http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/videoplayer/newVid/framesource2.html?clip=/media/2003/08/19/video569057 Yes, while watching this, I felt anger and disgust at the demons who do such things to innocent men and women. Anyone (else) who was around the aftermath of an IRA bombing in the Seventies would feel the same outrage, whether the innocent lives lost were taken in Belfast or Jerusalem, Beirut or New York City. But the same kind of anger and disgust, I believe, must be directed at the man ultimately responsible for the madness in Baghdad these days. And yes, the buck stops there. No one put a gun to George W. Bush's head and made him decide that a preemptive war in Iraq was in America's -- and the world's -- best interests. No one but the Bush cabal (ok, yes, Tony Blair went along for the ride, as did our cowardly Congress) believed that war was inevitable in Iraq. No one but the Bushies believed that, as Lt. Calley might say, we had to destroy Iraq in order to save it. The buck stops there. Period. The Pentagon today was quick to blame today's horrific crime on Al Quaeda "infiltrators." Perhaps the military is correct. But I can't help but wonder just how many "terrorists" we ourselves created with our now-famous "shock and awe" bombing campaign last March. Unfortunately, there were no CBS News cameras around Baghdad during those dark early days of war. Americans then had no access to remarkable "as it happens" video footage like today's. There were no action shots of bombs ripping apart homes and shops, of people trapped in rubble, of screaming mothers desperately looking for their children. No, this was, as we were told daily by Donald Rumsfeld, a surgical war, the cleanest war ever fought in human history. And so most Americans went about their business, convinced that he was correct, convinced that this indeed was a "good" war, a surgically precise campaign in which casualty figures were unimportant. Few among us here in the States, for example, got to see what really happened to the folks at that Baghdad restaurant on the night of March 24th, where, we were told (at first), we'd nailed Saddam Hussein. We hadn't, of course, but the news reports diligently added that a dozen civilians were killed. Remember? Just a dozen. Just a number. There was no blood, no carnage, no gore on the television screen. Just a comment from Wolf Blitzer or whomever. Just a few unfortunately dead Iraqis. How unfortunate. Pity we couldn't see what was really happening to those real live human beings back then, just like we can see what happened Tuesday in that CBS News video. Pity we couldn't have heard the wounded moan; pity we couldn't have seen, yes, the blood and the gore... Had we been able to do so, maybe, just maybe, we'd understand why American forces haven't exactly received the hero's welcome they expected once they "liberated" Iraq. Maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't be so quick to blame everything that's gone wrong since our May 1st declaration of victory upon "Saddam loyalists" or "foreign infiltrators." And maybe we'd finally stop swallowing the mainstream media pablum that continues, remarkably, blaming all our problems on Al Queda and/or Hussein loyalists. Maybe, just maybe, we'd wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe we'd understand that there's many a father and son -- and daughter and mother -- walking the streets of Baghdad with a serious axe to grind against the American military... Perhaps today's murderous culprit wasn't actually a Taliban fanatic or a disguntled Republican Guard. Perhaps the bomber was just one of those thousands of grieving Iraqis, himself just one of millions of fellow citizens who were just trying to get through life as best they could in Saddam Hussein's Baghdad, trying to make ends meet, trying to stay out of trouble. Just like most folks, well, just about everywhere. This, of course, before a bunch of abstract poltical theorists in Arlington, Virginia, had a better idea. They decided that they knew what was in his country's best interest. And decided that "shock and awe" was just the ticket. Perhaps today's murderous culprit was just as angry at the terror that came lashing out of the sky into his or her personal life last March, as the families in New York City were who suffered parallel catastrophes on September 11th, 2001. Perhaps he too will never forgive those who so changed his life, those who did so much to destroy his world. How ironic that today's dose of human suffering was delivered to neither Iraqis nor Americans, but to citizens of the entire world, people whose only crime was to work for the one organization that most sentient beings realize is the only real hope for our planet's long-term future. How tragic that today's victims were the very people who have sought, through their own courageous actions, to demonstrate that the kind of unilateral sabre-rattling practiced by the Rumsfelds and Cheneys of this world is hopelessly outdated, and has no place in twenty-first century civilization, if indeed that civilization is to survive another century. None of us should be surprised at the disastrous consequences that have come from Gulf War Two. This, after all, was a war launched by "leaders" who were at best misguided and ill-informed, and at worst, liars and scoundrels. You reap what you sow, as the Bible says. You reap what you sow.

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