March 28, 2003

When Bombs Replace Reason
Technological Massacre

We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy.

--Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Jackson, U.S. Representative to the International Conference on Military Trials, August 12, 1945

Bombs rained on Baghdad.

Buildings I had visited in September 2002 had disappeared in fire and smoke. I hoped that the smiling Iraqi janitors and maintenance staff who had said welcome in heavily accented English had not remained on the premises. In Tariq Aziz's office, now obliterated, the Deputy Prime Minister resisted former Senator Jim Abourezk and Congressman Nick Rahall's persuasive arguments to allow the UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq. "Without guarantees that he [Bush] will not attack, why should we concede?" he asked. The inspectors, after all, had given President Clinton the coordinates for targets to bomb and had provided US and British intelligence with data on military matters far a field from weapons of mass destruction. "If you're doomed if you do [let the inspectors in] and doomed if you don't," said Aziz, "you'd better don't." Iraqi leaders overruled him and the inspectors returned. I don't know if they will find evidence of the much touted hidden weapons, but Aziz has proven correct.

The liberation of Iraq, announced the president on March 19, was underway. I watched the improved rerun of the TV light show of bombs and missiles destroying property, followed by truly shocking and awesome shots of flames and smoke, while an embedded voice prattled on with details of the coalition's progress. The 103rd captured blah blah, while the 74th marched northward with little opposition. Corporal Smith of the 3rd infantry wrote a letter to his wife, while Private Jones talked with tears in his eyes about his newborn baby girl.

A few marine casualties, no reports of the numbers of Iraqi dead, some speculation as to the number of Iraqis who had surrendered, rumors of Saddam being dead or wounded. Then, some war footage of US technology obliterating the primitive Iraqi forces. Yes, truth becomes war's first victim. Indeed, it had suffered near fatal wounds before the war. But how do we separate the big lies from the innocuous ones?