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    War and Terror: Chaos, or just a little vase they're going through?
    Posted on Saturday, April 12 @ 22:18:33 UTC
    Topic: New Iraq
    New IraqBy Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star

    Okay, so the Anglo-American coalition ignored the United Nations and invaded Iraq because Iraq ignored the United Nations.

    I got that. I think.

    I think I also get the motivation how the hunt for weapons of mass destruction morphed into payback for 9/11, which, in turn, became regime change, which then became Operation Iraqi Freedom. Whatever slogan plays in order to wage war to achieve peace.

    Don't get me wrong, I am delighted that Saddam Hussein is, if not dead, then gone. That I get.

    But this I don't get: How do the Bushies continue to get away with lying to so many of the people so much of the time, still?

    All day long, all over the dial, the visuals revealed looting, lawlessness and chaos on the streets of Iraq. Nothing was off-limits, not stores, not homes, not embassies, certainly not Saddam Hussein's palaces nor government buildings and, most disgustingly, not even hospitals.

    CNN's Christiane Amanpour, clearly the Scud stud of this war (in my books anyway) just for her butt-kicking exchange the other night with Wolf Blitzer on the U.S. military killing journalists, called the scene the "Wild West."

    Over on CBC Newsworld, Patrick Brown, Don Murray and Nahlah Ayed were describing all-out anarchy while BBC World was saying that, contrary to U.S. military reports, calm had not been restored in Basra.

    Which is why, yesterday, I watched in astonishment when U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld told reporters that the media were overplaying the looting angle.

    "The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over and over and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times and you think, 'My goodness, were there that many vases?' he said to the journalists' laughter. "Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?"

    (Hey, Saddam had to hide the weapons of mass destruction somewhere.)

    Funny how it was okay to see that Saddam statue tumbling over and over and over again on Wednesday, in a scene that Rumsfeld called "breathtaking" and comparable to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Never mind how that video was tightly framed, showing a chanting crowd, when wider shots would have revealed a very different picture: a very large, mostly empty square surrounded by U.S. tanks.

    Now I should point out that the reporters embedded at the Pentagon are not to be compared with those journalists now relying on Wet Wipes in Iraq. The latter don't have to return to the briefing room day after day, hoping to be called upon by Rummy and his chummies.

    And, to their credit, a few members of the Pentagon pack attempted some tough follow-up questions yesterday, but Rumsfeld, by far the smoothest operator in President George W. Bush's cabinet, easily deflected them.

    "I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it,'' he retorted. " I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny 'The sky is falling.' I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot one thing after another.

    "It's just unbelievable how people can take that away from what is happening in that country!"

    (Speaking of taking away, several U.S. newspapers published a New York Times photo yesterday of a U.S. Marine holding a sword he 'found inside' Saddam's son Uday's house.)

    Now, if anybody is in a position to know something about Iraq, it's Rumsfeld. He's the guy who, while Saddam was gassing his own people, was conducting oil pipeline business with the brutal vicious dictator.

    Anyway, he had the audacity to open yesterday's press briefing with yet another lecture on freedom of expression, crowing about Nahwa Al-Hurrieh Toward Freedom an Anglo-American radio and TV service broadcasting in Arabic to the newly freed Iraqi people.

    While the radio service launched last month, the TV network debuted Thursday with canned speeches by Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a time and place where people had no power to hear those messages.

    But no matter.

    We're "working to expand the flow of free information to the Iraqi people," crowed Rumsfeld yesterday. "We're doing this because access to free information is critical to the building of a free society."

    This from the guy whose troops took out an Al-Jazeera office, attempted to obliterate an Abu Dhabi TV bureau and blew out a bunch of journalists in the Palestine Hotel, where some 150 international journalists were staying?

    Let me tell you, the only free anything the Iraqis are going to get in the next little while is going to be whatever they can "liberate" from electronics shops.

    Maybe Rumsfeld's marketing people can come up with a slogan for that.

    May I suggest, Operation Hitachi Freedom?

    Copyright 1996-2003. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.

    Reprinted from The Toronto Star:

    Related Links
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