Transcript: Robert Fisk on The Fantasy War | Oct 09, 2004

Robert Fisk stands on a small stage with a banner that reads “Carleton University.” He’s in his sixties, clean-shaven, with receding white hair. He’s wearing a striped shirt.

He says LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN, I WANT TO TAKE YOU
ALONG A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE,
AS THE TELEVISION STATIONS USED
TO SAY, TO 1917, WHEN THE
BRITISH ARMY FIRST INVADED IRAQ.
THE REASON I'M DOING THIS, IS
THAT I'M WRITING MY NEW BOOK ON
THE MIDDLE EAST AT THE MOMENT,
WHICH IS CALLED, “THE GREAT WAR
FOR CIVILISATION.”
WHICH WAS ENGRAVED ON THE BACK
OF THE MEDAL WHICH MY FATHER,
MUCH OLDER THAN MY MUM, WAS
AWARDED AT THE END OF THE FIRST
WORLD WAR, THE GREAT WAR FOR
CIVILISATION.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Robert Fisk. The Independent. The Fantasy War: Weapons of mass destruction and ‘Democracy.’ Carleton University. June 11, 2004."

Robert continues AND SO EACH
CHAPTER, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE
BOOK, I'M GOING BACK INTO WHAT
HAPPENED IN THE COUNTRY I
REPORTED IN, JUST AFTER MY
FATHER THOUGHT HE'D WON THE
FIRST WORLD WAR.
AND I'VE BEEN GOING THROUGH THE
ARCHIVES OF THE BRITISH
GOVERNMENT, AND OF IRAQI
SCHOLARS WHO LOOKED AT THE IRAQI
ARCHIVES, 1917 TO 1920.
I MAY, AS I SPEAK TO YOU, OCCASIONALLY DO
THIS...
IT MEANS QUOTATION MARKS, AND
I'M GOING TO BE DOING THIS A LOT
TONIGHT, WHICH TELLS YOU ABOUT
THE TIMES WE LIVE IN, BUT IT
SAVES ME SAYING, “QUOTE,
UNQUOTE,” ALL THE TIME.
IN ANY EVENT, I'M NOT GOING TO
BE SO STUPID AS TO SAY,
FALLUJAH, REMEMBER THE NAME,
WHEN IT POPS UP HERE.
BUT IF THINK YOU DON'T RECOGNISE
IT, I'LL DO THE QUOTATION MARKS.
AS LONG AGO AS 1914, AT WHICH
POINT, BY THE WAY, THE BRITISH
ARMY WERE IN BASRAH, BUT HADN'T
INVADED THE REST OF IRAQ, A
BRITISH OFFICIAL WAS TOLD BY,
“LOCAL ARAB NOTABLES,” THAT, “WE
SHOULD BE RECEIVED IN BAGHDAD
WITH THE SAME CORDIALITY AS IN
SOUTHERN IRAQ.
TURKISH TROOPS WILL OFFER
LITTLE, IF ANY OPPOSITION.”
BUT THE BRITISH INVASION OF IRAQ
HAD ORIGINALLY FAILED.
WHEN MAJOR GENERAL CHARLES
TOWNSEND TOOK 13,000 BRITISH
SOLDIERS UP THE BANKS OF THE
TIGRIS TOWARD BAGHDAD, HE WAS
SURROUNDED, AND DEFEATED BY
TURKISH FORCES AT KUT AL-IMARAH.
HIS SURRENDER WAS THE MOST
COMPREHENSIVE OF MILITARY
DISASTERS, AND ENDED IN A DEATH
MARCH TO TURKEY FOR THOSE
BRITISH TROOPS WHO HAD NOT BEEN
KILLED IN BATTLE OR DIED OF
DISEASE IN IMARAH.
THE GRAVES OF 500 OF THOSE
SOLDIERS ARE IN THE KUT WAR
CEMETERY TODAY, SUNK INTO SEWAGE
DURING THE PERIOD OF U.N.
SANCTIONS THAT FOLLOWED IRAQ'S
1990 INVASION OF KUWAIT, WHEN
SPARE PARTS FOR PUMPS, NEEDED TO
KEEP SEWAGE FROM THE GRAVES,
WERE NOT SUPPLIED TO IRAQ.
VISITING THE CEMETERY IN 1998,
MY COLLEAGUE AND FRIEND AT THE
INDEPENDENT, PATRICK COBURN
FOUND “TOMBSTONES STILL JUST
VISIBLE ABOVE THE SLIMY GREEN
WATER, A BROKEN CEMENT CROSS
STICKS OUT OF A REED BED, A
QUAGMIRE IN WHICH THOUSANDS OF
LITTLE GREEN FROGS SWARM LIKE
COCKROACHES AS THEY FEED ON
GARBAGE.”
IN ALL, BRITAIN, MY COUNTRY,
LOST 40,000 MEN IN THE
MESOPOTAMIAN CAMPAIGN.
THE BRITISH OCCUPATION WAS DARK
WITH HISTORICAL PRECEDENT.
IRAQI TROOPS WHO HAD BEEN
SERVING WITH THE TURKISH ARMY,
BUT WHO “ALWAYS ENTERTAINED
FRIENDLY IDEAS TOWARD THE
ENGLISH,” FOUND THAT IN PRISON,
THEY WERE, “INSULTED AND
HUMILIATED IN EVERY WAY.”
THESE SAME PRISONERS WANTED TO
KNOW IF THE BRITISH WOULD HAND
OVER IRAQ TO SHARIF HUSSEIN OF
HEJAZ, TO WHOM THE BRITISH HAD
JUST MADE FULSOME AND, OF
COURSE, MENDACIOUS PROMISES OF
INDEPENDENCE FOR THE ARAB WORLD
IF IT FOUGHT ALONGSIDE THE
ALLIES AGAINST THE TURKS, ON THE
GROUNDS, THAT “SOME OF THE HOLY
MUSLIM SHRINES ARE LOCATED IN
MESOPOTAMIA,” NAJAF, KERBAL AND
OF COURSE, KUFA.
BRITISH OFFICIALS BELIEVED THAT
CONTROL OF MESOPOTAMIA WOULD
SECURE BRITISH OIL INTERESTS.
IN PERSIA AS WELL, THE INITIAL
OCCUPATION OF BASRAH WAS
DESIGNED TO DO THAT.
AND THAT, “CLEARLY IT IS OUR
RIGHT AND DUTY, IF WE SACRIFICE
SO MUCH FOR THE PEACE OF THE
WORLD, THAT WE SHOULD SEE TO IT
THAT WE HAVE COMPENSATION, OR WE
MAY DEFEAT OUR END,” WHICH WAS
NOT HOW GENERAL MAUD EXPRESSED
BRITISH AMBITIONS IN A FAMOUS
PROCLAMATION OF 1917, PART OF
WHICH I SHALL READ TO YOU LATER.
EARL ASQUITH WAS TO WRITE IN HIS
MEMOIRS THAT HE AND SIR EDWARD
GREY, THE BRITISH FOREIGN
SECRETARY, AGREED IN 1915, THAT,
“TAKING MESOPOTAMIA MEANS
SPENDING MILLIONS IN IRRIGATION
AND DEVELOPMENT AND
RECONSTRUCTION.”
ONCE THEY WERE INSTALLED IN
BAGHDAD, THE BRITISH DECIDED
IRAQ WOULD HAVE TO BE GOVERNED
AND RECONSTRUCTED BY A “COUNCIL.”
[Murmuring]... FORMED MAINLY OF BRITISH
ADVISORS, OF COURSE, AND PARTLY
OF REPRESENTATIVE NON-OFFICIAL
MEMBERS FROM AMONG THE
INHABITANTS.
PAUL BREMER -- I DIDN'T SAY
THAT.
LATER, THE BRITISH THOUGHT THEY
WOULD LIKE “A CABINET, HALF OF
NATIVES, AND HALF OF BRITISH
OFFICIALS, BEHIND WHICH --
BEHIND WHICH MIGHT BE AN
ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL OR SOME
ADVISORY BODY CONSISTING
ENTIRELY OF PROMINENT NATIVES.”
INTERIM GOVERNMENT COUNCIL GIVES
WAY ON JUNE 30th... YOU KNOW.
THE TRAVELLER AND SCHOLAR,
GERTRUDE BELL, WHO BECAME, WOULD
YOU BELIEVE IT, ORIENTAL
SECRETARY TO THE BRITISH
MILITARY OCCUPATION AUTHORITY,
HAD NO DOUBTS ABOUT IRAQI PUBLIC
OPINION.
“THE STRONGER THE HOLD WE ARE
ABLE TO KEEP HERE, THE BETTER
THE INHABITANTS WILL BE
PLEASED,” SHE WROTE.
“THEY CAN'T CONCEIVE AN
INDEPENDENT ARAB GOVERNMENT.
NOR, I CONFESS, CAN I.
THERE IS NO ONE HERE WHO COULD
RUN IT.”
AGAIN, THIS WAS FAR FROM THE
NOBLE ASPIRATIONS THE BRITISH
HAD ORIGINALLY MADE.
BY SEPTEMBER OF 1919, EVEN
JOURNALISTS WERE BEGINNING TO
GRASP THAT BRITAIN'S PLANS FOR
IRAQ WERE FOUNDED UPON
ILLUSIONS.
“I IMAGINE,” THE TIME
CORRESPONDENT WROTE ON SEPTEMBER
THE 23rd, 1919, “I IMAGINE THAT
THE VIEW HELD BY MANY ENGLISH
PEOPLE ABOUT IRAQ IS THAT THE
LOCAL INHABITANTS WILL WELCOME
US BECAUSE WE'VE SAVED THEM FROM
THE TURKS, AND THAT THE COUNTRY
ONLY NEEDS DEVELOPING AND
RESTRUCTURING TO REPAY A LARGE
EXPENDITURE OF ENGLISH LIVES AND
ENGLISH MONEY.
NEITHER OF THESE IDEALS WILL
BEAR MUCH EXAMINATION,” HE
WROTE.
“FROM THE POLITICAL POINT OF
VIEW, WE ARE ASKING THE ARAB TO
EXCHANGE HIS PRIDE AND
INDEPENDENCE FOR A LITTLE
WESTERN CIVILISATION, THE
PROFITS OF WHICH MUST BE LARGELY
ABSORBED BY THE EXPENSES OF
ADMINISTRATION.”
WITHIN SIX
MONTHS, BRITAIN WAS FIGHTING A
MILITARY INSURRECTION IN IRAQ,
AND DAVID LLOYD GEORGE, OUR
PRIME MINISTER WAS FACING CALLS
FOR A MILITARY WITHDRAWAL.
“IS IT NOT FOR THE BENEFIT OF
THE PEOPLE OF THAT COUNTRY,”
LLOYD GEORGE ASKS IN THE BRITISH
PARLIAMENT, “THAT IT SHOULD BE
GOVERNED SO AS ENABLE THEM TO
DEVELOP THIS LAND WHICH HAS BEEN
WITHERED AND SHRIVELLED UP BY
OPPRESSION.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WE WITHDREW?”
[Audience laughter]
YOU SEE, YEAH, YOU'RE GETTING
THE MESSAGE.
LLOYD GEORGE WOULD NOT ABANDON
IRAQ TO “ANARCHY AND CONFUSION.”
TRYING TO FRIGHTEN IRAQIS EVEN
THEN, RIGHT?
BY THIS STAGE, BRITISH OFFICIALS
IN BAGHDAD WERE BLAMING THE
VIOLENCE ON, “LOCAL POLITICAL
AGITATION ORIGINATING OUTSIDE
IRAQ.”
[Audience laughter]
AND THE BRITISH THOUGHT THAT
PROBABLY THE AGITATION WAS
COMING FROM SYRIA.
WE'RE IN 1919, LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN, IT'S A LONG, LONG WAY
TO 2003.
A.T. WILSON, THE SENIOR BRITISH
OFFICIAL IN IRAQ TOOK A
PREDICTABLE LINE.
“WE CANNOT MAINTAIN OUR POSITION
BY A POLICY OF CONCILIATION OF
EXTREMISTS,” HE WROTE.
“HAVING SET OUR HAND TO THE TASK
OF REGENERATING MESOPOTAMIA,”
REGENERATING, REBUILDING...
“WE MUST BE PREPARED TO FURNISH
MEN AND MONEY.
WE MUST BE PREPARED TO GO VERY
SLOWLY WITH CONSTITUTIONAL AND
DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS.”
SOUND FAMILIAR?
[Murmuring]
THERE WAS FIGHTING IN THE SHIITE
TOWN OF KUFA, AND A BRITISH
SIEGE OF NAJAF, AFTER A BRITISH
OFFICIAL WAS MURDERED.
THE BRITISH DEMANDED, “THE
UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER OF THE
MURDERERS AND OTHERS CONCERNED
IN THE PLOT.”
AND THE LEADING SHIITE DIVINE,
SAYED KHADUM YAZDI, NOT AL-
SISTANI, BUT IT COULD BE,
ABSTAINED FROM SUPPORTING THE
REBELLION, AND SHUT HIMSELF UP
IN HIS HOUSE.
ELEVEN OF THE INSURGENTS WERE
EXECUTED, BY US.
A LOCAL SHEIK BADDAR AL RUMAID,
BECAME A BRITISH TARGET IN
NAJAF.
“BADDAR MUST BE KILLED OR
CAPTURED,” A BRITISH POLITICAL
OFFICER WROTE, AND A RELENTLESS
PURSUIT OF THE MAN, UNTIL THIS
OBJECT IS OBTAINED, SHOULD BE
CARRIED OUT.
THE BRITISH NOW REALISED THAT
THEY HAD MADE ONE MAJOR
POLITICAL MISTAKE.
THEY HAD ALIENATED A MAJOR
POLITICAL GROUP IN IRAQ, THE
EX-TURKISH IRAQI OFFICIALS AND
OFFICERS OF THE OTTOMAN ARMY.
THEY HAD BEEN FIRED.
THE RANKS OF THE DISAFFECTED
SWELLED.
PAUL BREMER THOU SHOUDST BE WITH
US AT THIS HOUR.
ANOTHER INSURGENCY BROKE OUT IN
THE AREA OF FALLUJAH, WHERE
SHEIK DHARI KILLED A BRITISH
OFFICER, A CERTAIN COLONEL
LEACHMAN, AND CUT RAIL TRAFFIC
BETWEEN FALLUJAH AND BAGHDAD.
I SHOULD ADD THAT IN 2003, I
WENT TO A TOWN CALLED HAN DHARI,
THE HOME TOWN OF SHEIK DHARI,
WHERE THEY REMEMBERED THAT THE
HEAD OF THE DHARI CLAN HAD
KILLED COLONEL LEACHMAN.
AND THE REASON I WENT TO HAN
DHARI, WAS THAT IT WAS THE SCENE
OF THE FIRST KILLING OF AN
AMERICAN SERVICEMAN BY A
ROADSIDE BOMB.
WHEN I WENT TO HAN DHARI, I KNEW
NOTHING ABOUT IT.
THE BRITISH -- 1919 AGAIN --
ADVANCED TOWARD FALLUJAH, AND
INFLICTED, “HEAVY PUNISHMENT ON
THE TRIBE.”
THE LOCATION OF THIS BATTLE IS,
TODAY, HAN DHARI.
IN DESPERATION, THE BRITISH
NEEDED “TO COMPLETE THE FACADE
OF THE ARAB GOVERNMENT.”
AND SO, WITH CHURCHILL'S
ENTHUSIASTIC SUPPORT, THE
BRITISH GAVE THE THRONE OF IRAQ,
AS MANY OF YOU WILL KNOW, TO THE
HASHEMITE KING FEISAL, THE SON
OF SHERIF HUSAIN, A CONSOLATION
PRIZE FOR THE MAN WHO HAD BEEN
SO IGNOMINIOUSLY BOOTED OUT OF
DAMASCUS BY THE FRENCH.
PARIS WAS HAVING NO KINGS IN ITS
OWN MANDATED TERRITORY OF SYRIA,
FROM WHICH IT WAS ABOUT TO CUT
OFF LEBANON.
HENCEFORTH, THE BRITISH
GOVERNMENT, DEPRIVED OF
RECONSTRUCTION FUNDS BY AN
INTERNATIONAL RECESSION AND
CONFRONTED BY AN INCREASINGLY
UNWILLING SOLDIERY -- POOR
MORALE IN THE BRITISH ARMY,
WHICH HAD FOUGHT, OF COURSE THE
WHOLE 1914 TO 1918 WAR AND
WANTED TO GO HOME.
THEY WEREN'T RESERVISTS.
THE BRITISH WOULD HAVE TO RELY
ON AIR POWER TO IMPOSE THEIR
WISHES.
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, AGAIN WITH
CHURCHILL'S SUPPORT, BOMBED
REBELLIOUS VILLAGES AND
DISSIDENT TRIBESMEN, SHIITES,
SUNNIS AND KURDS.
CHURCHILL URGED THE USE OF
MUSTARD GAS, WHICH HAD ALREADY
BEEN USED AGAINST SHIA REBELS IN
1920.
SQUADRON LEADER ARTHUR HARRIS,
LATER MARSHALL OF THE ROYAL AIR
FORCE, AND THE MAN WHO PERFECTED
THE FIRESTORMS ON HAMBURG,
DRESDEN AND OTHER GREAT CITIES
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR, WAS
EMPLOYED TO REFINE THE BOMBING
OF IRAQI INSURGENTS.
THE RAF FOUND, HE WROTE -- I
QUOTE FROM HIS BIOGRAPHY, THAT,
“BY BURNING DOWN THEIR REED
HUTTED VILLAGES, AFTER WE HAD
WARNED THEM TO GET OUT, WE PUT
THEM TO THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF
INCONVENIENCE, WITHOUT PHYSICAL
HURT, AND THEY SOON STOPPED
THEIR RAIDING AND LOOTING.”
THIS WAS WHAT, IN ITS
EMASCULATION OF THE ENGLISH
LANGUAGE, THE PENTAGON CALL WAR
LITE.
BUT THE BOMBING WAS NOT AS
SURGICAL AS HARRIS' OFFICIAL
BIOGRAPHER WOULD SUGGEST.
AIR COMMODORE LIONEL CHARLTON,
WAS SO APPALLED AT THE
CASUALTIES INFLICTED ON INNOCENT
VILLAGERS, THAT HE RESIGNED HIS
POST AS SENIOR AIR STAFF
OFFICER, IRAQ, BECAUSE HE COULD
NO LONGER “MAINTAIN THE POLICY
OF INTIMIDATION BY BOMB.”
HE HAD VISITED AN IRAQI HOSPITAL
TO FIND IT FULL OF WOUNDED
TRIBESMEN, AND AFTER THE RAF HAD
BOMBED THE KURDISH REBEL CITY OF
SULAYMANIYAH, CHARLTON, “KNEW
THE CROWDED LIFE OF THESE
SETTLEMENTS, AND PICTURED WITH
HORROR THE ARRIVAL OF A BOMB
WITHOUT WARNING, IN THE MIDST OF
A MARKET GATHERING, OR IN THE
BAZAAR QUARTER.
MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WOULD
SUFFER EQUALLY.
I SHOULD ADD THAT IN 1920,
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE ARABS'
FRIEND, WROTE A LETTER TO THE
OBSERVER NEWSPAPER OF LONDON,
SAYING, “WHY CAN'T WE USE MORE
GAS ON THE IRAQIS?”
SO WHAT'S CHANGED?
NO, THE AMERICANS WILL NOT USE
GAS.
BUT THE NEW PATTERN OF AMERICAN
AIR ATTACKS TODAY, ON HOUSES OF
“SUSPECTED REBELS,” ON MOSQUES
IN WHICH WEAPONS ARE SUPPOSEDLY
STORED, ON “TERRORIST GROUPS,”
WHICH TURN OUT TO BE WEDDING
PARTIES, SHOWS ALL TOO CLEARLY
HOW THE BRITISH PATTERN CAN BE
CONTINUED WHEN “FULL
SOVEREIGNTY” -- I LOVE THE FULL
BIT.
FULL SOVEREIGNTY IS HANDED OVER
FROM ONE GROUP OF AMERICAN
CHOSEN IRAQIS ON JUNE 30th, TO
ANOTHER GROUP OF AMERICAN CHOSEN
IRAQIS.
SO HOW DO YOU SPIN A WAR?
HOW DO YOU PERSUADE PEOPLE YOU
ARE WINNING, WHEN YOU ARE
LOSING?
WELL LET'S TAKE A LOOK DOWN A
SHORTER MEMORY LANE OF THE PAST
YEAR.
LET'S START OFF WITH THE FAMOUS
OIL PRODUCTION FIGURES.
I'M GOING IN AND OUT OF IRAQ
EVERY TWO MONTHS, AND
WEARYINGLY, EVERY THURSDAY, NOT
FRIDAYS, OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE
MUSLIM SABBATH, EVERY THURSDAY,
THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED THE
5 o’clock FOLLIES.
SOMETIMES IT'S THE 3 o’clock FOLLIES,
IN WHICH THE COALITION
PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY, AKA THE
OCCUPATION POWER, GIVE PRESS
CONFERENCES TO SAY HOW MUCH
BETTER THINGS ARE BECOMING.
SOMETIMES YOU ACTUALLY HEAR THE
THUNDER OF EXPLOSIONS AS THEY'RE
SPEAKING TO YOU IN THE
CONFERENCE CENTRE, WHICH SADDAM
ONCE BUILT FOR THE NON-ALIGNED
NATIONS.
HERE'S THE OIL PRODUCTION FIGURE
PROBLEM.
IN JULY OF LAST YEAR, WE WERE
TOLD -- WE'RE TALKING 10 MONTHS
AGO -- THAT OIL PRODUCTION WAS
UP TO 1 MILLION BARRELS A DAY,
THAT BAGHDAD AIRPORT WAS
REOPENING, THAT EVERY UNIVERSITY
IN IRAQ WAS FUNCTIONING AGAIN,
THE HEALTH SERVICES WERE
RECOVERING RAPIDLY, MOBILE
PHONES HAD MADE THEIR FIRST
APPEARANCE IN BAGHDAD, THERE WAS
AN IRAQI INTERIM COUNCIL UP AND
HOBBLING.
BUT THERE WAS A KIND OF LOOKING
GLASS FANTASY TO ALL THESE
ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE OCCUPYING
POWER.
I REMEMBER IN LATE JULY, GOING
TO THE MINISTRY OF OIL, AND
FINDING THAT THEIR PRODUCTION
FIGURES BORE NO RELATION TO THE
FIGURES PUT OUT BY GENERAL
RICARDO SANCHEZ, THE SENIOR U.S.
COMMANDER IN IRAQ, WHO MAY VERY
SOON NO LONGER HAVE A JOB THERE.
HE EVEN CHOSE TO USE THESE
FIGURES IN HIS FAMOUS, “GREAT
DAY FOR IRAQ” PRESS CONFERENCE,
WHEN 200 AMERICAN SOLDIERS IN
MOSUL HAD KILLED THE SONS OF
SADDAM, RATHER THAN TAKE THEM
PRISONER.
BUT GENERAL SANCHEZ, WHEN HE
USED THAT FIGURE, WAS TALKING
RUBBISH.
ALTHOUGH OIL PRODUCTION WAS
INDEED STANDING AT 900,000
BARRELS A DAY, IN JUNE LAST
YEAR, ALBEIT 100,000 BARRELS A
DAY LESS THAN THE SANCHEZ
VERSION, IT FELL THE FOLLOWING
MONTH TO 750,000.
THE DROP WAS CAUSED, AS IT IS
STILL BEING CAUSED TODAY, BY
POWER CUTS, WHICH ARE
CONTINUING.
WE'RE NOW DOWN TO 7 OUT OF 24
HOURS A DAY ELECTRICITY IN
BAGHDAD, BY THE WAY.
IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE 24 HOURS.
AND THE RESULT, IRAQ, WITH THE
WORLD'S SECOND HIGHEST RESERVES
OF OIL, STILL IS IMPORTING FUEL
FROM OTHER OIL PRODUCING
COUNTRIES TO MEED DOMESTIC
DEMANDS, WHICH IS WHY, SHOULD
YOU BE FANCYING A HOLIDAY IN
BAGHDAD, YOU CAN FILL YOUR TANK
AT THE MOMENT, AT 5 U.S. CENTS A
GALLON.
THEN COMES BAGHDAD AIRPORT.
YEAH, IT HAS REOPENED.
BUT IT HAPPENS THAT THE AIRPORT,
WITH ITS HUGE AMERICAN MILITARY
BASE, STILL COMES UNDER NIGHTLY
GRENADE AND MORTAR AND ARTILLERY
ATTACK.
NO MAJOR AIRLINE WOULD DREAM OF
FLYING ITS AIRCRAFT INTO THE
FACILITY IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.
SO, STARTING FROM LAST JULY,
WEIRD THINGS HAPPEN -- THE
IRAQIS WERE TOLD, FOR EXAMPLE,
THE FIRST FLIGHTS WOULD BE RUN
BY TRANSCONTINENTAL AIRLINES.
IT DOESN'T SORT OF FLIP OFF THE
TONGUE LIKE AIR CANADA, BRITISH
AIRWAYS...
A NAME ODDLY SIMILAR TO THE
CIA'S TRANSPORT AIRLINE IN
VIETNAM, AND ITS DESTINATION,
INITIALLY FROM BAGHDAD, WOULD BE
THE OLD EAST BERLIN AIRPORT OF
SHOENEFELD, A BRITISH OUTFIT
CALLING ITSELF MAYHILL AVIATION,
NOT EXACTLY BRITISH AIRWAYS, RAN
ADVERTISEMENTS IN THE IRAQI
PRESS FOR WEEKLY FLIGHTS ON A
BOEING 747 TO BASRAH, TAKING OFF
FROM GATWICK, WHICH IS AN AREA
VERY CLOSE TO MAJOR MILITARY
CAMPS IN BRITAIN.
WHEN YOU FLY OUT OF BAGHDAD NOW,
UNLESS YOU WANT TO GO TO MOSCOW,
YOU GO OUT ON A ROYAL JORDANIAN
CONTRACT COMPANY.
EVERYTHING IS CONTRACT,
INCLUDING THE MERCENARIES IN
BAGHDAD AND THE REST OF IRAQ.
THIS COMPANY, WHICH IS PART OF
ROYAL JORDANIAN, HAS USUALLY A
GERMAN PILOT, WHO GETS DOWN
AFTER THE FLIGHT AND CHECKS
ROUND THE AIRCRAFT TO SEE HOW
MANY BULLET HOLES ARE IN THE
MACHINE.
I KID THEE NOT.
TAKING OFF IS FUN.
YOU BOARD THE AIRCRAFT, AND
INSTEAD OF DOING THAT WONDERFUL,
SORT OF SLOW APPROACH TO TAKEOFF
AND UP, UP AND AWAY, YOU CLIMB
SUDDENLY LIKE THIS, AND GO UP
LIKE YOU'RE CLIMBING THE
CORKSCREW OF A WINE BOTTLE.
AND AS YOU GO ROUND, YOU SEE
BAGHDAD AIRPORT DOWN HERE, AND
THEN SUDDENLY, YOU SEE BAGHDAD
AIRPORT DOWN THERE.
AND AT ABOUT 30,000 FEET, YOU
LEVEL OFF, AND THE STEWARDESS
COMES ROUND AND SAYS, “SIR,
ORANGE JUICE OR RED WINE?”
[Audience laughter]
WHICH DID I CHOOSE?
NOW IT'S ONLY ORANGE JUICE, OF
COURSE, BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT
ALL THE PASSENGERS WERE
CHOOSING.
OPEN UNIVERSITIES, NOW THEY WERE
GOOD NEWS, AND FEW WOULD BLAME
PAUL BREMER WHEN HE FIRED 300--
NO SORRY, 436 PROFESSORS WHO
WERE MEMBERS OF THE BATH PARTY
THIS WAS LAST YEAR.
IN THE SAME WAY, THE CPA
ANNULLED THE ACADEMIC SYSTEM
WHEREBY STUDENT PARTY MEMBERS
WOULD GET HIGHER GRADES.
FAIR ENOUGH, THIS IS GENUINE
DEBATHIFICATION.
BUT THEN IT TURNED OUT THERE
WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH QUALIFIED
PROFESSORS TO GO AROUND.
QUITE A NUMBER OF THE 436 WERE
PARTY MEN, IN NAME ONLY OF
COURSE, AND RECEIVED THEIR
DEGREES AT FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES.
WE NEEDED THEM BACK.
SO BREMER SAID THEY COULD BE
HIRED BACK, PROVIDED THEY SIGNED
FORMS IN WHICH THEY DENOUNCED
THE BATH PARTY.
YOU CAN HEAR THE SCRATCHING OF
THOSE PENS, YOU KNOW, WE
DENOUNCE IT.
BACK THEY WERE.
BREMER HAD A HABIT OF REVERSING
DECISIONS.
HE FIRED THE ENTIRE IRAQI ARMY,
REALISED HE'D PUT 1 and a half MILLION
MEN ON THE STREETS OF IRAQ WITH
GUNS, AND THEN REHIRED THEM AGAIN.

[Audience laughter]

Robert continues HEALTH SERVICES,
WELL YES.
THE NEW IRAQI HEALTH SERVICE WAS
ENCOURAGED TO REHABILITATE THE
COUNTRIES HOSPITALS AND CLINICS.
BUT AN AMERICAN COMPANY CALLED
ABD ASSOCIATES, TURNED UP IN
BAGHDAD, TO GIVE, I'M NOT GOING
TO TRY AND IMITATE IT, “MINISTRY
OF HEALTH TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE,
SUPPORT TO USAID AND RAPID
RESPONSE GRANTS TO ADDRESS
HEALTH NEEDS IN COUNTRY.”
NEEDLESS TO SAY, IT DECREED THAT
ALL MEDICAL EQUIPMENT MUST
ACCORD WITH U.S. TECHNICAL
STANDARDS, AND MODIFICATIONS,
WHICH MEANT THAT ALL NEW
HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT HAD TO COME
FROM AMERICA, NOT FROM EUROPE.
THEN THERE WERE THE MOBILE
PHONES.
BACK IN JULY, MY LEBANESE MOBILE
PHONE PINGED INTO LIFE ONE NIGHT
AT MIDNIGHT.
I DIDN'T EVEN BELIEVE IT.
AND IT WORKED FOR ABOUT A WEEK,
AND THEN THE OCCUPYING
AUTHORITIES SAID, “HOLD ON, IT'S
BEING RUN BY A KUWAITI COMPANY,
THEY HAVEN'T FORMED A CONTRACT,
SWITCH IT OFF.
SO WE HAD SEVERAL MONTHS WITHOUT
A MOBILE PHONE.
THEN THEY SAID -- THIS WAS THE
INTERIM GOVERNING COUNCIL
ANNOUNCED IT, THREE COMPANIES
WILL RUN THE MOBILE PHONE SYSTEM
IN IRAQ, ACTUALLY, ONLY IN
BAGHDAD, BUT THAT DOESN'T
MATTER, THAT'S PART OF IRAQ, AND
THE PHONES CAME ON AGAIN.
THEY ANNOUNCED THAT THESE WERE
ALL ARAB COUNTRIES WITH WHOM THE
CONTRACTS HAD BEEN AGREED,
ALBEIT THAT TWO OF THEM, THE
MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS, ONE WAS
AMERICAN, ONE WAS BRITISH, NEVER
MIND.
HOWEVER, I CAN NOW TELL YOU THAT
MY NEWSPAPER CAN NO LONGER
CONTACT PATRICK COBURN IN
BAGHDAD ON HIS MOBILE PHONE, NOR
ME ON MY MOBILE PHONE, NOR,
INDEED, JUSTIN HUNTER, OUR OTHER
CORRESPONDENT, BECAUSE THE
MOBILE PHONE SYSTEM HAS
VIRTUALLY COLLAPSED.
WE'RE BACK USING SATELLITE
PHONES IN BAGHDAD AND THE REST
OF IRAQ.
TELLS YOU SOMETHING OF THE
STORY.
WE'RE BACK TO USING THE SAME
PHONE SYSTEM WE HAD TO USE IN
AFGHANISTAN.
OF COURSE IRAQIS PROTEST AT MUCH
OF THIS.
THEY PROTEST IN THE STREETS,
ESPECIALLY AGAINST THE
AGGRESSIVE AMERICAN MILITARY
RAIDS, AND THEY PROTEST IN THE
PRESS.
MUCH GOOD DOES IT DO THEM.
YOU WILL KNOW YOURSELVES THAT
WHEN EX-IRAQI SOLDIERS
DEMONSTRATED OUTSIDE BREMER'S
OFFICE IN BAGHDAD, TWO WERE SHOT
DEAD.
ANOTHER 18 GUNNED DOWN DURING A
PROTEST IN FALLUJAH, IN APRIL
2003.
THAT'S WHAT STARTED THE
RESISTANCE OFF.
FAMILIES AND TRIBES WANTED TO
TAKE REVENGE FOR THE KILLING OF
THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS BY MEMBERS
OF THE 82nd AIRBORNE.
AMERICAN SOLDIERS WERE SHOT.
THE AMERICANS SAID, “TERRORISM,”
AND A WAR STARTED.
AND FAMILY REVENGE AND
RETALIATION TURNED INTO
RESISTANCE AND INSURRECTION.
AGAIN, 11 MORE GUNNED DOWN
DURING A PROTEST IN MOSUL.
WE FORGET THIS, NOW, AT OUR
COST.
ALL THIS MIGHT BE
INCOMPREHENSIBLE IF ONE FORGOT
THAT THE WHOLE ILLEGAL IRAQI
INVASION HAD NOT BEEN HATCHED UP
BY A BUNCH OF RIGHT WING,
LARGELY PRO-ISRAELI IDEOLOGUES
IN WASHINGTON, AND THAT BREMER,
THOUGH NOT A MEMBER OF THEIR
GROUP, FITTED SQUARELY INTO THE
SAME BRACKET.
HENCE PAUL WOLFOWITZ, ONE OF THE
PRIME INSTIGATORS OF THIS
DISASTROUS WAR, HE WAS AMONG THE
LOUDEST TO BEAT THE DRUM FOR WAR
AT THE TIME, AND OVER WEAPONS OF
MASS DESTRUCTION THAT DIDN'T
EXIST, LATER TRIED TO DEFLECT
ATTENTION FROM HIS DISASTROUS
ADVICE TO THE U.S.
ADMINISTRATION, BY ATTACKING THE
PRESS, PARTICULARLY AL JAZEERA.
THEY WERE INCITING IRAQIS TO
VIOLENCE AGAINST AMERICAN
TROOPS, SO SWITCH OFF THE
MESSENGER, QUICKLY.
NEWSPAPERS, AS WE KNOW, WHICH
HAVE OFFENDED THE AMERICANS,
HAVE BEEN RAIDED BY U.S. TROOPS.
THIS ISN'T SOMETHING NEW.
THE CLOSING OF THE AL-HAWZA
NEWSPAPER, BELONGING TO MUQTADA
AL-SADR IS NOT NEW.
ORIGINALLY, THERE WERE RAIDS ON
THE OFFICES OF THE SUPREME
COUNCIL OF THE ISLAMIC
REVOLUTION IN IRAQ.
MOHAMMED AL-HAKIM, THE LEADER,
AFTER ALL, WAS ON THE INTERIM
COUNCIL.
THE COUNCIL ITSELF WAS ALREADY
THE SUBJECT OF MUCH HUMOUR IN
BAGHDAD, NOT LEAST BECAUSE ITS
FIRST ACTS INCLUDED THE PURCHASE
OF CARS FOR ALL ITS MEMBERS, A
DECISION TO WORK OUT OF A FORMER
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE, AND, THIS,
THE LUNATIC BRAINCHILD OF OUR
FAVOURITE FRAUDSTER, AHMED
CHALABI, THE DECLARING OF A
NATIONAL HOLIDAY EVERY APRIL
9th, TO HONOUR IRAQ'S LIBERATION
FROM SADDAM.
NOW OF COURSE IT SOUNDS PRETTY
GOOD TO US WESTERNERS.
WHY NOT, LIBERATION DAY!
BUT OF COURSE TO AN IRAQI, THE
DAY MARKED THE FIRST DAY OF ITS
FOREIGN OCCUPATION.
NOT EXACTLY SOMETHING THEY WERE
GOING TO GO OUT AND CELEBRATE,
WAS IT?
THEN WE COME TO AL-HAWZA
NEWSPAPER.
THIS IS A NEWSPAPER WITH A
CIRCULATION OF 14,000.
I MEAN HEAVENS, THE OTTAWA
CITIZEN IS BETTER THAN THAT.
[Audience laughter]
BIGGER, ANYWAY.
AND AL-HAWZA, I HAVE TO SAY, IS
A TRASHY NEWSPAPER, IT ALWAYS
WAS.
IT LIED, YEAH, IT WAS A TRASH
PAPER, AND IT MADE A NUMBER OF
VERY RUDE COMMENTS ABOUT PAUL
BREMER.
IT SAID HE WAS FOLLOWING IN THE
FOOTSTEPS OF SADDAM, WHAT A
TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE THING TO SAY.
IT MIGHT HAVE SAID HE WAS
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF
THE BRITISH, THAT, AT LEAST
WOULD BE ACCURATE.
BUT HE CLOSED IT DOWN, AND THUS
ENABLED THE INSURRECTION TO
EMBRACE THE SHIITE AS WELL AS
THE SUNNI COMMUNITY, VERY
CLEVER.
SO, THERE HAS NOW BEGUN, INDEED
THERE HAS BEEN UNDERWAY FOR SOME
TIME, THE FAINT BUT SINISTER
SHADOW OF A DIFFERENT KIND OF
DEMOCRACY FOR IRAQ, WHICH WE OF
COURSE ARE DESPERATE TO BESTOW
UPON IRAQ.
A DEMOCRACY IN WHICH A NEW RULER
WOULD HAVE TO USE A
PATERNALISTIC RULE, MODERATION
MIXED WITH DEMOCRACY -- ATATUK
COMES TO MIND.
TO GOVERN IRAQ, AND ALLOW THE
AMERICANS, OF COURSE, TO GO
HOME.
YOU HAVE TO REALISE THAT THE
DEVASTATING EQUATION IN IRAQ
TODAY, AND THIS IS THE STORY
WHICH WE ARE REPORTING, OR
SHOULD BE, IS THAT THE AMERICANS
MUST LEAVE IRAQ, AND THEY WILL
LEAVE IRAQ, AND THEY CAN'T LEAVE
IRAQ.
WATCH THIS SPACE, THAT IS WHAT
OUR STORY IS ABOUT, NOT ABOUT
NEW GOVERNMENTS, AND FULL
SOVEREIGNTY.
THAT IS WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT
FOR THE COMING MONTHS.
SO, LET'S GO BACK TO THE NEW
KIND OF DEMOCRACY.
IN THE NEXT FEW MINUTES, THE
NEXT ONE MINUTE, I ASK YOU NOT
TO LAUGH.
I WANT YOU TO BE
COMPLETELY SERIOUS AS I READ YOU
THESE QUOTATIONS FROM AN ARTICLE
BY DANIEL PIPES, FROM THE MIDDLE
EAST FORUM.
HE NOW ARGUES
THAT, “DEMOCRATIC MINDED AUTOCRATS...”
[Audience laughter]
PLEASE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN... “...CAN GUIDE THE COUNTRY.”
GUIDE IS A WONDERFUL WORD.
YOU KNOW, BEFORE THE 2003
INVASION, THE BRITISH MINISTER
FOR EUROPE SAID THAT ONE OF TONY
BLAIR'S JOBS WAS TO BE A GUIDE
TO THE BRITISH PEOPLE.
GERMANS PRESENT AT THE E.U.
MEETING REMEMBERED THAT THE WORD
FOR GUIDE WAS FUHRER.
[Audience laughter]
ANYWAY, BACK TO DANIEL PIPES.
HE ARGUED THAT “DEMOCRATIC
MINDED AUTOCRATS...”
NO LAUGHTER -- “CAN GUIDE...”
NO LAUGHTER -- “THE COUNTRY...”
IRAQ -- “TO FULL DEMOCRACY
BETTER THAN SNAP ELECTIONS.”
WHO WOULD WANT SNAP ELECTIONS?
“WHAT IRAQ NEEDS,” HE SAID, “IS
A DEMOCRATICALLY MINDED STRONGMAN...”
[Murmuring]
“... WHO HAS REAL AUTHORITY.”
WHO WOULD BE, “POLITICALLY
MODERATE, BUT OPERATIONALLY TOUGH.”
[Audience laughter]
I DID ASK YOU NOT TO LAUGH.
OF COURSE IT'S DIFFICULT TO
RESIST A SMILE, ISN'T IT, AT
SUCH DOUBLE STANDARDS, ALTHOUGH
THEIR MEANING IS QUITE CLEAR.
WHAT DOES “OPERATIONALLY TOUGH”
MEAN, OTHER THAN SECRET
POLICEMEN, INTERROGATION ROOMS,
TORTURERS -- FAINTLY FAMILIAR,
ISN'T IT?
WHAT DOES “STRONGMAN” MEAN,
OTHER THAN A TOTAL REVERSAL OF
THE PROMISE OF DEMOCRACY, WHICH
MESSIEURS BUSH AND OUR OWN DEAR
MR. BLAIR MADE TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE?
DEMOCRACIES ARE NOT LED BY
AUTOCRATS, AND AUTOCRATS ARE NOT
LED BY ANYONE BUT THEMSELVES.
THE PIPES VERSION OF THE
STRONGMAN DEMOCRACY, BY THE WAY,
INVOLVED WITHDRAWAL OF AMERICAN
TROOPS TO, “MILITARY BASES AWAY
FROM POPULATION CENTRES...”
[Panting]...
WHERE THEY THIS IS BETTER,
“SERVE AS THE MILITARY PARTNER
OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT,
GUARANTEEING ITS ULTIMATE
SECURITY.”
SO MR. ALAWI HAS NO PROBLEMS,
CIAS OR ANYWAY.
IN OTHER WORDS, U.S. FORCES WILL
HIDE IN THE DESERT TO AVOID
FURTHER CASUALTIES, UNLESS IT IS
NECESSARY TO STORM BACK TO
BAGHDAD TO GET RID OF THE
STRONGMAN IF HE FAILS TO OBEY
OUR ORDERS, OR IF HE IS
OVERWHELMED, WHICH IS VERY MUCH,
I SUSPECT THE POLICY WHICH THE
LATEST BUSH INITIATIVE ON FULL
SOVEREIGNTY IS ABOUT.
THE BREMER POLICIES HAVE BEEN A
TOTAL FAILURE.
THE BRITISH ARE NOW URGING
BREMER TO BE SEEN CLIMBING ON
THE AIRPLANE, LEAVING ON THE 30th.
“PLEASE LET THE IRAQIS KNOW
YOU'RE LEAVING, IT'S GOT TO BE
REAL,” THE BRITS ARE SAYING.
THEY ACTUALLY ARE MESSAGING FROM
DOWNING STREET TO WASHINGTON.
THEY'RE VERY WORRIED THE IRAQIS
WILL SAY, “BREMER'S STILL HERE.
WE NEVER SAW HIM GET ON THE
PLANE.”
REMEMBER THE FAMOUS, IT'S NOT
SADDAM, IT IS SADDAM; IT'S NOT
THE SONS, IT IS THE SONS.
THE BREMER'S POLICIES, MILITARY
POLICIES -- REMEMBER HE WAS
APPOINTED AS A GREAT ANTI-TERROR
EXPERT.
HE'S SEEN MORE TERROR, IF YOU
WANT TO CALL IT THAT, THAN HE
HAS IN THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
LET'S TALK ABOUT ONE OF MY LEAST
FAVOURITE MILITARY OPERATIONS BY
THE AMERICANS.
ON AN OPERATION IN THE TOWN OF
DULUIYA, TWO INNOCENT MEN --
THAT'S NORTH OF BAGHDAD TOWARDS
BAKUBA.
TWO INNOCENT MEN WERE KILLED,
AND THE AMERICANS--
AMERICA'S IRAQI INFORMER,
ORIGINALLY PARADED BEFORE THOSE
HE WAS TO BETRAY, IN A HOOD TO
KEEP HIS IDENTITY SECRET, WAS
EXECUTED BY HIS OWN FATHER.
THE ENTERPRISING NEWSPAPER, IRAQ
TODAY, WHICH STILL EXISTS --
AMAZING -- FOUND THAT THE
INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS OF THE
U.S. FOURTH INFANTRY DIVISION,
EVEN LEFT BEHIND THEIR MUG SHOTS
IN THE VILLAGE, AERIAL
RECONNAISSANCE PHOTOGRAPHS, AND
SECRET OPERATIONAL DOCUMENTS,
COMPLETE WITH TARGET HOUSES AND
BRIEFING NOTES, AT THE SCENE.
THE PAPER, IN THE TRUE TRADITION
OF JOURNALISM, PUBLISHED THE
LOT, INCLUDING THE COMMENT OF
THE FATHER OF SABAH SALEM
KERBUL, THE YOUNG INFORMER WHO
WORKED FOR THE AMERICANS DURING
OPERATION PENINSULA STRIKE.
HE SHOT HIS SON FIRST IN THE
FOOT AND THEN IN THE HEAD, “I
HAVE KILLED HIM,” HE SAID, “BUT
HE IS STILL A PART OF MY HEART.”
INDEED, ANARCHIC VIOLENCE HAS
LONG BECOME EMBEDDED IN IRAQI
SOCIETY, IN A WAY IT NEVER WAS
UNDER THE GENOCIDAL SADDAM.
SCARCELY A DAY GOES BY NOW, WHEN
I DO NOT ENCOUNTER THE EVIDENCE
OF THIS IN MY DAILY REPORTING IN
BAGHDAD.
LET ME GIVE YOU A LITTLE EXAMPLE
OF LAST YEAR.
I VISIT -- THIS IS OCTOBER -- I
VISIT THE YARMOUK HOSPITAL IN
BAGHDAD TO SEEK THE IDENTITY OF
CIVILIANS KILLED BY AMERICAN
TROOPS IN MANSUR THE PREVIOUS DAY.
I COME ACROSS FOUR BODIES LYING
OUT IN THE YARD BESIDE THE
BUILDING IN THE 50 DEGREE HEAT.
ALL HAD BEEN SHOT, NO ONE KNEW
THEIR IDENTITIES, THEY WERE ALL
YOUNG, SAVE FOR ONE, WHAT COULD
HAVE BEEN A MIDDLE AGED MAN WITH
A HOLE IN HIS SOCK.
I FOUND MYSELF WONDERING, IF
EVER YOU GET SHOT, DON'T HAVE A
HOLE IN YOUR SOCK.
THREE DAYS
EARLIER, ON A VISIT TO A LOCAL
SUPERMARKET, I NOTICE THAT THE
WOMAN CASHIER, WHOM I KNEW, WAS
WEARING BLACK.
YES, SHE SAID, HER BROTHER HAD
BEEN MURDERED A WEEK EARLIER.
NO ONE KNEW WHY.
IN A CONVERSATION WITH MY
DRIVER'S BROTHER, WHO OWNS A
PHOTOCOPYING SHOP, ACTUALLY
QUITE NEAR BREMER'S PALACE
HEADQUARTERS, A YOUNG MAN
SUDDENLY LAUNCHED INTO PRAISE
FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN.
“WHY?” I ASKED, “WHY?”
WELL, HE SAID, HIS FATHER'S NEW
CAR HAD JUST BEEN STOLEN BY
ARMED ME.
TRYING TO CONTACT AN EX-
PRISONER, WHO HAD BEEN ILLEGALLY
HELD BY THE AMERICANS AT HIS
HOME IN A SUBURB OF BAGHDAD, I
DROVE TO THE LOCAL MUKTA'S HOUSE
TO FIND THE CORRECT ADDRESS.
THE MUKTA, AS YOU KNOW IS THE
LOCAL MAYOR.
BUT I WAS GREETED BY A GROUP OF
LONG FACED RELATIVES WHO TOLD ME
THAT I COULD NOT SPEAK TO THE
MUKTA, BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN
ASSASSINATED THE PREVIOUS NIGHT.
SO IF THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE, IN
JUST FOUR DAYS, HOW MANY MURDERS
AND THEFTS ARE OCCURRING ACROSS
BAGHDAD, INDEED ACROSS IRAQ.
YOU KNOW, IN BASRAH, ALONE, 12
PEOPLE WERE KILLED IN ONE MONTH
FOR SELLING ALCOHOL, AND 40
BODIES, TRUSSED UP, SHOT IN THE
BACK OF THE HEAD, OF BATH PARTY
MEMBERS, WERE FOUND IN THE
STREETS, PARTICULARLY AT A
RUBBISH DUMP, WHICH IS WELL
KNOWN IN BASRAH.
THE BRITISH ARMY, WHICH CONTROLS
BASRAH, AND HAS NOW BEEN FOUND
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF 12
INNOCENT CIVILIANS IN CUSTODY,
ONE OF WHOM MY PAPER HAS--
I HAVE INVESTIGATED FOR MY
PAPER, AND HE WAS CLEARLY
MURDERED -- DID NOT REPORT THE
KILLINGS OF THESE FORMER BATH
PARTY MEMBERS.
THEN THERE WAS A DISTURBING
MOMENT, WHEN CHARLES HEATLEY,
WHO WAS THEN THE BRITISH
SPOKESMAN FROM THE FOREIGN
OFFICE, APPOINTED BY TONY BLAIR
AT THE BEHEST OF ALISTAIR
CAMPBELL, YOU'LL KNOW A LOT OF
THESE STAGE PEOPLE, TALKED ABOUT
THE REPORTS OF ABDUCTION AND
RAPE IN IRAQ.
HE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THERE HAD
BEEN SOME CASES, BUT THEN, AND I
ENJOYED THE BEAUTIFUL WAY IN
WHICH HE TRIED TO DESTROY ANY
JOURNALISTIC INTEREST IN THIS
TERRIBLE SUBJECT, TALKED ABOUT
THE NUMBER OF RUMOURS WHICH
TURNED OUT TO BE UNTRUE WHEN
CHECKED OUT.
BUT THIS IS NOT THE EXPERIENCE
OF MY NEWSPAPER, WHICH
DISCOVERED IN JUST ONE DAY LAST
YEAR, DISCOVERED THE IDENTITY OF
ONE YOUNG WOMAN WHO HAD BEEN
KIDNAPPED, RAPED AND THEN FREED,
ONLY TO ATTEMPT SUICIDE THREE
TIMES AT HER HOME.
ANOTHER FAMILY GAVE OUR PAPER A
PHOTOGRAPH OF THEIR ABDUCTED
DAUGHTER IN THE HOPE THAT IT
MIGHT BE REPRINTED IN THE IRAQI
PRESS.
WE PRINTED IT, THE IRAQI PRESS
DID NOT.
EVEN MORE RECENTLY COMES THE
APPALLINGLY SAD STORY OF A YOUNG
WOMAN, ABDUCTED FROM HER HOME BY
ARMED MEN, GANG RAPED BY THEM,
SHOT AND DUMPED ON A STREET
CORNER, AND SHE SURVIVED.
TAKEN TO THE SAME YARMOUK
HOSPITAL, SHE TOLD THE NURSE HER
STORY, AND WAITED FOR HER MOTHER
TO COME AND VISIT HER, THE ONLY
PERSON SHE LOVED IN THE WORLD.
BUT HER MOTHER, OF COURSE,
COULDN'T GO.
ISSUES OF FAMILY HONOUR WERE AT
STAKE, AND AFTER THREE DAYS, SHE
DECIDED TO DIE, AND THAT'S WHAT
SHE DID.
WHY DON'T, AND WHY HAVEN'T THE
OCCUPATION AUTHORITIES REALISED
THAT IRAQ CANNOT BE SPUN?
IRAQ IS LIVING A TRAGEDY OF EPIC
PROPORTIONS, AND NOW, AFTER ITS
DESCENT INTO HELL UNDER SADDAM,
WE ARE DOOMED TO SUFFER ITS
CONTAGION AND STILL WE DENY
THIS.
BY OUR HUBRIS, AND BY OUR LIES
AND BY OUR FANTASIES, INCLUDING
THE FANTASIES OF OUR OWN DEAR
MR. BLAIR, WE ARE DESCENDING
INTO THE PIT.
FOR THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ, THE NEXT
STAGE IN THEIR CALVARY IS
UNDERWAY.
AND I FEAR IT STARTS ON JUNE
30th.
FOR US, ANOTHER COLONIAL
HUMILIATION, THE LIKE OF WHICH
MAY END THE CAREER OF MR. BUSH,
AND INDEED, WHO KNOWS, PERHAPS
OF MR. BLAIR AS WELL.
A FEW THOUGHTS THEN, ON THIS
WAR, WHICH BEGAN IN MARCH OF
LAST YEAR, AND CONTINUES RIGHT
UP TO THE MINUTE THAT WE'RE
SPEAKING NOW.
THE HORRIFIC SADDAM LIED TO US,
THE AMERICANS LIED TO US, AND
YES, THE BRITISH LIED TO US.
WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN PRETTY GOOD AT
SPOTTING SADDAM'S LIES AND
DECEIT AND MENDACITY AND
CRUELTY.
WE WERE REPORTING HIS MASS
KILLINGS FROM THE LATE '70s,
WHEN THE U.S. GOVERNMENT DIDN'T
WANT ANYTHING BUT GOOD RELATIONS
WITH THE IRAQI REGIME.
I RECALL ONE AWFUL DAY IN 1982,
WHEN I WAS TRAVELLING FROM THE
IRAQ-IRAN WAR FRONT BACK TO
TEHRAN ON AN IRANIAN MILITARY
HOSPITAL TRAIN.
ALL THE SOLDIERS HAD BEEN
GASSED.
THEY SAT, THOSE IRANIANS, ALL
VICTIMS OF SADDAM, COUGHING AND
CHOKING UP BLOOD AND MUCUS INTO
TOWELS.
THEY HELD THEM TO THEIR FACES,
THESE TOWELS, AS THEY READ THEIR
KORANS.
AFTER SOME TIME, I SMELLED
SOMETHING STRANGE, LIKE A KIND
OF SICK PERFUME, AND THEN I
REALISED, AND I RAN ROUND THE
CARRIAGES THROWING OPEN THE
COMPARTMENT WINDOWS.
THE DYING MEN WERE COUGHING UP
THE GAS AGAIN, AND THE WHOLE
TRAIN WAS BREATHING IT IN.
BACK IN LONDON -- I WAS WORKING
FOR THE LONDON TIMES AT THIS
TIME, MY PAPER FRONT PAGED MY
STORY OF THE DEATH TRAIN.
AND LATER THAT WEEK, A BRITISH
FOREIGN OFFICE OFFICIAL TOLD MY
THEN EDITOR OVER LUNCH, THAT
ROBERT FISK'S STORY HAD NOT BEEN HELPFUL.

[Murmuring]

He continues BECAUSE OF
COURSE, BRITAIN WAS SUPPORTING
SADDAM AGAINST THE IRANIANS.
AND THE AMERICANS WERE
SUPPORTING SADDAM AGAINST THE
IRANIANS.
AND THAT SAME WEEK I WAS ON THE
HOSPITAL TRAIN, THE UNITED
STATES SENT A SPECIAL DELEGATE
TO IRAQ TO SEE SADDAM HUSSEIN.
HE WANTED TO
OPEN THE AMERICAN EMBASSY AGAIN.
AND YOU KNOW WHO THAT WAS -- MR.
RUMSFELD.
THROUGHOUT ALL THESE EARLY
YEARS, AS YOU ALSO KNOW, WE WENT
ON SUPPORTING SADDAM'S
DESPICABLE REGIME.
HE WAS OUR MAN AGAINST IRAN.
U.S. TRADE DELEGATIONS WOULD
PARTICIPATE IN TRADE FAIRS IN
BAGHDAD.
I WAS THERE WHEN U.S. MILITARY
DELEGATIONS SENT WEAPONS
SALESMEN TO THE MILITARY TRADE
FAIR AT [Inaudible] AIRPORT,
ALL TREATED OF COURSE TO CAKES
AND CHAMPAGNE BY SADDAM'S
HENCHMEN.
WHEN AN IRAQI AIRCRAFT FIRED A
MISSILE AT THE AMERICA FRIGATE,
U.S.S. STARK IN THE GULF IN
1987, ALMOST SINKING THE VESSEL
HOW QUICKLY WE FORGOT THAT.
WASHINGTON SENT A HIGH LEVEL
NAVAL DELEGATION TO BAGHDAD, TO
SHARE IN A JOINT ENQUIRY WITH
THE IRAQIS.
JOINT ENQUIRY.
WELL, THE PENTAGON THEN
CHARITABLY CONCLUDED THAT THE
IRAQI ATTACK HAD BEEN A MISTAKE.
THAT THE PILOT HAD THOUGHT HE
WAS FIRING AT AN IRANIAN SHIP,
OF COURSE, AND, SO THEY
SUPPOSED, THE PILOT HAD ALREADY
BEEN EXECUTED ON SADDAM'S
ORDERS.
HE HADN'T BEEN ALLOWED TO HAVE
BEEN INTERVIEWED, SO OBVIOUSLY
HE'D BEEN EXECUTED.
ONLY FEW MONTHS AGO IN BAGHDAD,
I MET THAT PILOT'S COLLEAGUES IN
BAGHDAD, ALONG WITH ONE OF THE
MOST SENIOR OF SADDAM'S AIR
FORCE OFFICERS, NUMBER 2 AT THE
HABANIER AIR BASE, ACTUALLY.
THE PILOT WHO ATTACKED THE
U.S.S. STARK WAS NOT EXECUTED,
HE IS ALIVE IN BAGHDAD.
HE DIDN'T KNOW HE WAS FIRING AT
AN AMERICAN SHIP, BUT HE HAD
ORDERS TO ATTACK ANY VESSEL IN A
SO-CALLED “FORBIDDEN ZONE,” AN
IRAQI PHRASE, OFF THE IRAQI
COAST.
THE AMERICANS, I WAS TOLD BY
THESE IRAQI PILOTS, HAD BEEN
WARNED NOT TO ENTER THIS ZONE,
BUT THE U.S.S. STARK HAD DONE
SO.
AFTERWARDS, THEY SAID,
WASHINGTON OBEYED THE IRAQI
RULES, NO MORE AMERICAN SHIPS
ENTERED SADDAM'S FORBIDDEN ZONE.
AND ALL THIS TIME, OF COURSE,
THE PENTAGON AND THE CIA KNEW
THAT SADDAM WAS USING GAS, KNEW
THAT HIS INTELLIGENCE MEN WERE
TORTURING PRISONERS, KNEW THAT
SADDAM'S OPPONENTS WERE TIPPED
INTO MASS GRAVES, KNEW ABOUT THE
RAPING ROOMS, AND KNEW THAT
POLITICAL PRISONERS WERE WHIPPED
TO DEATH WITH ELECTRIC CABLES AS
THEY LAY IN SEWERS IN SADDAM'S
BAGHDAD INTELLIGENCE
HEADQUARTERS.
THAT WAS THE NATURE OF AMERICA'S
RELATIONSHIP WITH SADDAM.
WE SUPPORTED THIS TERRIBLE
REGIME, BRITAIN, TOO.
NO WORSE THAN SOME OTHERS IN THE
WORLD, NO DOUBT, BUT WICKED
ENOUGH.
HE WAS OUR FRIEND, AND HIS
GREATEST FRIEND WAS US.
AND BE IN NO MISTAKE ABOUT WHAT
THIS REALITY MEANT IN IRAQ, FOR
WHEN SADDAM'S REGIME FELL, WE
JOURNALISTS CAME ACROSS THE
PROOF, NOT JUST IN THE EXECUTION
ROOMS AND THE OPEN MASS GRAVES,
BUT IN A TERRIFYING SERIES OF
VIDEOTAPES TAKEN BY SADDAM'S OWN
SECRET POLICEMEN, SHOWING THE
TORTURE BY WHIPPING OF COUNTLESS
POLITICAL PRISONERS, MOST OF
THEM SHIITE MUSLIMS.
MANY OF THEM HAD PARTICIPATED IN
THE 1991 REBELLION WHEN WE
ENCOURAGED THEM TO RISE UP, AND
THEN LEFT THEM TO SADDAM'S MERCY.
GIVEN THAT FACT THAT WE'VE SEEN
A LOT OF PICTURES OUT OF ABU
GHRAIB, LET'S REMEMBER THAT FOR
THE SAME PURPOSE, PUBLIC
HUMILIATION, SUCH PICTURES WERE
TAKEN BEFORE.
WE FOUND HOURS OF THIS MATERIAL,
VILE AND OBSCENE, FRIGHTENING,
VICIOUS.
NOW BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN WHAT I
CALL THE DEPARTMENT OF HOME
TRUTHS, THE DOOR SHOULD ALWAYS
BE OPEN, BUT IT NEVER IS, I'M
GOING TO SHOW YOU NOW, A VERY,
VERY SHORT SEQUENCE FROM A
VIDEOTAPE MADE IN BAGHDAD BY THE
IRAQI INTELLIGENCE SERVICE.
THIS IS NOT ABU GHRAIB PRISON,
IT'S THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
HEADQUARTERS BEHIND THE
INTERNATIONAL FAIR, SLIGHTLY
MORE DISTURBING TO PEOPLE WHO
WERE IRAQI AND WHO WERE TAKEN
THERE AND KNEW WHAT IT MEANT.
THIS WAS TAKEN LATER IN THE
1990s, AS PRISONERS WERE WHIPPED
AND BEATEN WITH CABLES ON THE
ORDERS OF A SENIOR INTELLIGENCE
OFFICER.
WHEN YOU SEE THIS CLIP OF FILM,
I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER THAT
THESE TO WHOM WE GAVE
INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION IN THE
WAR, IN THEIR WAR AGAINST IRAN,
AGAINST THE SHIITE NEIGHBOURS OF
THE POOR MEN YOU WILL NOW SAY.
I SHOULD SAY THAT THOUGH BRIEF,
THESE SCENES ARE SHOCKING,
LARGELY UNSEEN OUTSIDE IRAQ.
SOMETHING MOST OF YOU WILL ONLY
HAVE SEEN BEFORE IN THE MOST
VIOLENT OF HOLLYWOOD MOVIES.
SECRET POLICEMEN SAVAGELY BEAT A
PRISONER, A GROUP OF TERRIBLY
BEATEN INMATES ARE HERDED BACK
TO THEIR CELLS.
THIS IS A REAL LIFE HORROR, NOT
HOLLYWOOD, AND IF YOU WANT TO
CLOSE YOUR EYES FOR THE NEXT
MINUTE AND A HALF, I'LL
UNDERSTAND, BECAUSE I AND MY
COLLEAGUES HAVE DONE THE SAME.
DAVE, CAN WE HAVE THIS CLIP OF FILM?
LIGHTS DOWN, AND CAN WE HAVE THE
TV LIGHT OFF AS WELL, PLEASE.

The lights dim down and a clip plays on screen.
In a small room several men in uniforms gather a group of about 10 male prisoners in their thirties and forties. The prisoners are dishevelled and look frightened. Most of them are shirtless.

[Indistinct conversations]

The officers yell at the men and guide them into another room.

The screen now shows the reaction of the audience in the auditorium. People look horrified and cover their mouths as violent screams and sounds of beating can be heard.

The screen goes black.

Robert says THANK YOU, DAVE,
PAUSE IT THERE FOR A SECOND.

He sighs as the lights go on again and says
UH, YEAH.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE
ENORMITY OF WHAT YOU'VE JUST
SEEN CAN BE JUDGED BY THE FACT
THAT THE WHOLE TAPE, WHICH I
HOPE YOU WILL NEVER SEE, LASTS
MORE THAN 45 MINUTES.
ONE MAN DIES ON THIS TAPE AS A
GUARD PUSHES A STAKE INTO HIS
THROAT.
AND THIS WAS A SCENE BEING
ENACTED THROUGH ALL THE LONG
YEARS OF OUR FRIENDSHIP FOR
SADDAM.
WHO WERE THESE FILMS MADE FOR?
WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO WATCH THEM?
UDAY AND QUSAY, THE SONS,
SADDAM?
OR THE VICTIMS THEMSELVES, OR
THEIR FAMILIES, TO HUMILIATE THEM?
DID YOU NOTICE
THERE WERE SPECTATORS?
MEN IN UNIFORM IN THE
BACKGROUND, BATH PARTY
OFFICIALS, WATCHING THESE
TERRIBLE SCENES, DID THEY SEE
THE TAPE, TOO?
NOW AMONG OTHER VIDEOTAPES,
WHICH ARAB AND WESTERN
JOURNALISTS ALSO FOUND, WAS THE
NON-VIOLENT, BUT EQUALLY
CHILLING SEQUENCE WHICH I'M
GOING TO SHOW YOU NOW.
IT'S ONE OF THE SADDAM FAMILY.
THIS IS SADDAM HOME VIDEOS INC.
THE HAPPY FAMILY MAN WITH HIS
WIFE AND QUSAY, HIS SON AND
OTHER CHILDREN IN THE HILLS OF
NORTHERN IRAQ.
CAN WE SEE THE SADDAM-- AT SOME
POINT I'M GOING TO GET TIRED AND
TELL YOU TO SWITCH OFF SADDAM
PICTURES, DAVE, BUT LET'S GO
WITH IT FOR THE MOMENT, IF WE
CAN HAVE THE LIGHTS DOWN?
GREAT.

A new cli plays in which Saddam Hussein in his early forties walks in a snowy landscape with a blond woman about the same age.
They walk in a landscape of snowy mountains and valleys.

Robert continues THOSE OF YOU WHO
DO REMEMBER, THE PICTURES OF
HITLER WITH EVA BRAUN AT
BERTESGARTEN MIGHT FIND THIS
SLIGHTLY FAMILIAR.
ONE OF THE KEY -- THERE'S HOURS
AND HOURS OF THIS STUFF BY THE WAY.
I'M NOT GOING TO BORE YOU WITH
ALL OF IT.
BUT ONE OF THE KEY ISSUES, OF
THE SADDAM PICTURES, IS THAT
APART FROM HIS IMMEDIATE RETINUE
IN THE FAMILY, YOU NEVER SEE
ANYONE ELSE.
THERE ARE NO ORDINARY IRAQIS IN
THESE PICTURES.
JUST THE HAPPY FAMILY MAN
LOOKING ACROSS--
THIS IS ACTUALLY IN KURDISTAN.
WE THINK THIS IS ABOUT 100 MILES
NORTHWEST OF MOSUL.

The clip changes to another one in which Saddam Hussein and several officials walk outdoors in summer clothes.

Robert continues NOW IT'S SPRING.
QUSAY, SECOND WIFE.
HERE'S SADDAM, LIKE ANY ORDINARY
GRANDFATHER, HE'S IN THE UNIFORM
OF BRIGADIER GENERAL ON PICNIC.
TAKE A LOOK, HE HAS THAT STICK
IN HIS HAND FOR SOME REASON, HE
HAS A STICK IN HIS HAND.
THERE HE IS.

Saddam walks around in the wilderness surrounded by officials and carries a stick in his hand.

Robert continues I THINK THIS IS THE FIRST TIME
THIS FILM HAS BEEN SHOWN IN CANADA.
I'VE SHOWN IT ONCE IN THE STATES.
I THINK I'M JUST GOING TO LET
YOU LOOK AT IT.
IT SPEAKS ITS OWN WORDS.

Qusay Hussain helps a boy around 10 walk on some rocks.

Robert continues THIS IS QUSAY'S SON, WHO AT AGE
14, WAS KILLED IN MOSUL BY U.S.
TROOPS LAST YEAR.
OF COURSE HE'S MUCH YOUNGER IN
THE PICTURE HERE.

Two young women wearing long gowns rest by a stream.

Robert continues SADDAM'S DAUGHTERS.

Saddam helps a girl hop onto a rock to cross the stream.

Robert continues THIS IS SADDAM TO THE RESCUE.

The clip ends.

Robert continues SO FOR 20 YEARS,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE LOVED
THIS MAN.
WE ADMIRED HIM, SOME OF US,
IGNORED HIS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES,
ALLOWED HIM TO TORTURE HIS
PEOPLE, PROVIDING HE FOUGHT IRAN
AND ENSURED STABILITY IN IRAQ,
AND LATER MAINTAINED SOME UNITY
UNDER SANCTIONS.
BUT NOW WE CLAIM, 20 YEARS TOO
LATE, THAT WE CAME TO RESCUE THE
IRAQI PEOPLE, WE CAME TO
LIBERATE THEM.
YOU SEE, AND TO DISCOVER WHAT OF
COURSE, WE'D KNOWN ALL ALONG FOR
TWO DECADES, WHEN HE WAS OUR
FRIEND, THAT OUR SADDAM WAS A
MONSTER.
AND NOW WE HAVE LIBERATED THE
IRAQIS, AND WE EXPECTED THEM TO
BE GRATEFUL FOR OUR VERSION OF
HISTORY.
I RECALL ALL THIS BECAUSE OF THE
WAY IN WHICH MANY OF OUR REPORTS
DURING THE WAR, WELL THE WAR IS
STILL GOING ON, THE INVASION, IS
WHAT I MEAN, WHICH SUGGESTED
THAT THE AMERICANS MAY HAVE BEEN
BOMBING CIVILIANS RATHER THAN
MILITARY TARGETS, WERE
IMMEDIATELY ATTACKED BY THE U.S.
OR THE BRITISH GOVERNMENTS, AS
REPORTS FROM BEHIND ENEMY LINES,
WRITTEN BY JOURNALISTS WHO WERE
SUPPOSEDLY ACTING AS SADDAM'S
PROPAGANDA HENCHMEN, DUPED BY
HIS SECRET SERVICES INTO LYING
ABOUT ANGLO-AMERICAN AIR RAIDS.
BEFORE THE WAR, I ACTUALLY WENT
TO SEE MY OWN EDITOR, SIMON
KELNER IN LONDON, AND SAID,
“SIMON, I PROMISE YOU THE
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE WILL SEND
YOU A LETTER JUST BEFORE THE
WAR, SAYING THAT ONLY EMBEDDED
JOURNALISTS SHOULD BE OKAY, AND
THAT NO ONE APART FROM THEM
SHOULD ENTER IRAQ.
I ACTUALLY TYPED UP A VERSION OF
WHAT I THOUGHT THE MINISTRY
LETTER WOULD BE.
HE RANG ME UP DURING THE FIRST
AIR RAID.
THE MINISTRY LETTER DID GO TO
OTHER EDITORS, THE TELEGRAPH
WITHDREW THEIR MAN FROM BAGHDAD,
THE TIMES WITHDREW THEIR MAN
FROM BAGHDAD -- WE WERE VERY
HAPPY AT THAT.
AND HERE IS THE MINISTRY OF
DEFENCE LETTER, IT ACTUALLY
TURNED UP.
“26th OF MARCH, 2003, DEAR SIR,
I URGE YOU TO CONSIDER VERY
CAREFULLY.
OUR CURRENT ADVICE IS, THAT WITH
THE EXCEPTION OF THOSE
JOURNALISTS EMBEDDED WITH
COALITION FORCES, NO OTHER
JOURNALIST SHOULD ENTER IRAQ.”
HE CALLED ME UP AND SAID, “YOU
WERE ALMOST WORD PERFECT,
ROBERT, STAY WHERE YOU ARE.”

[Audience laughter]

Robert continues SO, LET ME NOW
GIVE YOU A LITTLE PICTURE
PORTRAIT OF IRAQ UNDER INVASION
LAST YEAR, TAKEN THROUGH THE
LENS OF MY OWN CAMERA, WHICH I
ALWAYS CARRY TO WAR WITH ME.
NONE OF WHAT I'M
GOING TO SHOW YOU NEGATES THE
EVIDENCE OF SADDAM'S KILLING
FIELDS, HIS BUTCHERY AGAINST THE
KURDS AND THE SHIITES, HIS
TORTURE CHAMBERS, WHICH I'VE
JUST SHOWN YOU.
BUT IT'S WORTH A GLANCE, I
THINK, AT THESE PICTURES TO SEE
THAT WARS ARE NOT THE CLEAN AND
BLOODLESS SAND PITS THAT OUR
TELEVISION COLLEAGUES LIKE TO
PRETEND.
NOW THIS FIRST PICTURE, IF WE
COULD TURN THE LIGHTS DOWN HERE,
AND THE TV LIGHT AS WELL, IF WE CAN.

A picture shows a girl around 8 lying on a bed with an eyepatch on.

Robert continues NOW I TOOK THIS PICTURE OF THE
LITTLE IRAQI GIRL IN HILEL
HOSPITAL.
LIKE MANY OF THE PATIENTS
BROUGHT IN THAT DAY, SHE'D BEEN
THE VICTIM OF A CLUSTER BOMB
ATTACK ON HER VILLAGE.
WE THOUGHT THE CLUSTER BOMBS
WERE DROPPED FROM THE AIR.
THEY WEREN'T, THEY WERE FIRED BY
ARTILLERY.
WERE THERE IRAQI MILITARY NEAR
HER VILLAGE?
I SUSPECT SO.
COULD AMERICAN AIRCRAFT, WHICH
SAW THESE MUNITIONS BEING
DROPPED HAVE REALISED THAT A
CIVILIAN TARGET WAS ALSO BEING
ATTACKED?
OF COURSE.
NOW, IF WE COULD HAVE THE NEXT
PICTURE...

Another picture shows the same girl on the bed as a girl nearly the same age stands next to the bed. The standing girl has blood on her head.

Robert continues WHAT I DIDN'T NOTICE WHEN I TOOK
THIS YOUNG GIRL'S PICTURE, THE
GIRL ON THE RIGHT, WAS HER SISTER.
YOU CAN SEE HER ON THE LEFT.
NOW I IMAGINE SHE HAD A KIND OF
GREEN, OR SORRY, RATHER, RED
SCARF IN HER HAIR.
IT WAS ONLY WHEN I TOOK A LOOK
AT THE PICTURE THAT I REALISED
THAT SHE HAD RECEIVED A PIECE OF
CLUSTER BOMB IN HER HEAD.
IT'S JUST UP TO THE LEFT OF HER
LEFT EYEBROW, THERE'S A HOLE IN
HER HEAD, AND THE RED IS BLOOD
ON HER SCARF, IT'S A WHITE
SCARF.
IF YOU LOOK CAREFULLY, AS I SAY,
YOU'LL SEE THE WOUNDS.
AS ALWAYS IN WAR, YOU HAVE TO
LOOK CAREFULLY AT THEM.
COULD WE HAVE THE NEXT PICTURE.

Another picture shows an elderly woman lying on a hospital bed with her right arm completely wrapped in blood-drenched bandages. She has a grim expression.

Robert continues THIS OLD LADY REALLY DOESN'T
NEED A CAPTION.
THE PIECES OF CLUSTER BOMB, THE
TINY BOMBLETS WHICH, IN THE
WORDS OF THIS AND OTHER WOMEN,
FELL LIKE GRAPES WHEN THE FIRST
MUNITIONS WERE USED, STILL LAY
AROUND HER VILLAGE.
SKY TELEVISION ACTUALLY
COLLECTED THEM FROM THE GROUND
AND BROUGHT THEM BACK TO
BAGHDAD, WHERE WE TOOK THEM TO
BITS WITH SOME CARE.
YOU CAN SEE WHAT'S LEFT OF THE
LADY'S RIGHT ARM.
IT'S THAT BLOODY BANDAGE YOU SEE
ON THE LEFT OF THE PICTURE.
IF WE COULD HAVE THE NEXT PICTURE.

A new picture shows armoured vehicles driving towards a riverside city as a huge fire breaks by the water.

Robert continues NOW THE ENTRY INTO BAGHDAD.
WAS IT LIBERATION OR OCCUPATION?
NOW HERE'S MY PICTURE OF THE
VERY FIRST AMERICAN VEHICLES
COMING INTO BAGHDAD.
THERE'S THE TIGRIS RIVER AT THE
BOTTOM, TOP LEFT, THESE ARE TWO
BRADLEY ARMOURED FIGHTING
VEHICLES, THERE'S ACTUALLY AN
M1A1 TANK JUST BEHIND, IF YOU
SEE, AND THIS IS WHAT'S LEFT
AFTER THEY FIRED AT AN IRAQI
POSITION.
SOME OF THE IRAQIS GOT AWAY FROM
THIS CAULDRON, JUMPED IN THE
RIVER.
THE REST ARE BEING BURNED ALIVE
THERE.
IF WE COULD HAVE THE NEXT PICTURE.

A new picture shows a concrete bridge over a calm river, and large concrete buildings on the far side of it.

Robert continues NOW THIS IS THE JUM HAREA, THE
REPUBLIC BRIDGE OVER THE TIGRIS
RIVER, TAKEN FROM THE PALESTINE
HOTEL BY ME.
NOW I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN SEE,
AND I DON'T HAVE A POINTER.
THERE ARE TWO TANKS ON THIS
BRIDGE, IF YOU LOOK AT THE
STANCHION, THE FIRST SUPPORT OF
THE BRIDGE, TO IMMEDIATELY ABOVE
IT, THERE'S A TANK ON IT.
THIS IS THE TANK WHICH, SHORTLY
AFTER I TOOK THIS PICTURE, FIRED
ONE ROUND AT THE PALESTINE HOTEL
AND KILLED TWO OF MY COLLEAGUES,
ONE FROM REUTERS, ONE FROM
SPANISH TELEVISION.
THE COMMANDER OF THE U.S. FIRST
INFANTRY DIVISION, GENERAL
BUFORD BLOUNT, CLAIMED THAT
LIGHT ARMS FIRE HAD BEEN
DIRECTED AT HIS TANK ON THE
BRIDGE, THAT THE TANK HAD FIRED
AT THE HOTEL, AND THE SHOOTING
CEASED.
THIS WAS A LIE.
I WAS BETWEEN THE TANK AND THE
HOTEL WHEN IT FIRED, AND THERE
WAS NO SHOOTING.
HAD THERE BEEN, I WOULDN'T HAVE
BEEN ON THE STREETS.
SO WHY WERE MY COLLEAGUES
KILLED?
ALL OF US SHOULD STILL DEMAND AN
ANSWER TO THAT.
THE LAST PICTURE.

Another picture shows a crowd watching as a group of journalists standing on an armoured tank take pictures of the tank pulling down a statue of Saddam Hussein.

Robert continues THIS IS A VERY FAMOUS PICTURE.
THERE IS SADDAM, YOU CAN SEE HIM
UP THERE VERY FAINTLY IN FRONT
OF THE PALM TREE.
THIS SADDAM, IT COULD BE
SADDAM'S DOUBLE, BUT THIS
SADDAM.
IF YOU LOOK CAREFULLY, YOU'LL
SEE THE ROPES COMING DOWN,
CONNECTING HIM TO THE VEHICLE
UNDERNEATH, NOT TO THE CROWD.
SEE THE VEHICLE THERE, THE ROPES
GOING UP WITH JOURNALISTS ON TOP.
THE MASSES OF IRAQIS WHO ARE
WELCOMING, NOT VERY VISIBLE ON
THE STREET BEHIND, AND IF YOU
STUDY THIS PICTURE AS I HAVE,
MORE THAN HALF THESE PEOPLE, NO
THAT'S NOT TRUE, ABOUT 42 percent OF
THE PEOPLE DOWN THERE ARE
JOURNALISTS.
[Murmuring]
BUT THIS WAS THE FAMOUS PICTURE
OF THE MASSES PULLING DOWN
SADDAM'S STATUE.
I THINK THAT'S ENOUGH OF THE
PICTURE SECTION FOR THE MOMENT.
IF WE COULD HAVE THE LIGHTS UP
AGAIN, AND TV PICTURES ON IF YOU
WANT.
YOU KNOW, I WAS AT A SWIMMING
POOL IN BEIRUT NOT LONG AGO, AND
ALSO IN SWITZERLAND, AND I STOOD
BESIDE THE POOL LIKE THIS.
AND WHEN I EMERGED FROM THE
WATER, EVERYONE KNEW WHO IT
WAS... SADDAM'S DOUBLE.
THE FUNNY THING IS, YOU KNOW,
THAT ROUND THAT SQUARE, THERE
ARE 37 PILLARS, BUT NO ONE HAS
RAISED THEM.
NO ONE SPOTTED THE FACT THERE
ARE 37 BECAUSE 1937 WAS THE YEAR
OF SADDAM'S BIRTH, IT WAS A
BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
SO THE PILLARS ARE STILL THERE
TO COMMEMORATE HIS BIRTH.
THUS ARE MYTHS CREATED BY US.
JUST LOOK FOR EXAMPLE, AT HOW
OUR JOURNALISTS CONNIVED AT TONY
BLAIR'S UNTRUE CLAIMS THAT
SADDAM HUSSEIN COULD ATTACK
BRITAIN WITHIN 45 MINUTES, THAT
THERE COULD BE A NUCLEAR ATTACK
ON THE UNITED KINGDOM WITHIN
MONTHS.
HERE IS THE DAILY EXPRESS, NOT
MY FAVOURITE PAPER, SEPTEMBER 9,
2002, ALMOST EXACTLY THE FIRST
ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY OF
SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001.

He displays a newspaper cover and reads out the title
“NUCLEAR ATTACK IN JUST MONTHS,”
NOT DOWNING STREET, I HOPE.
SURELY BLAIR CAN BE SPARED.
BUT THIS IS HOW BLAIR SOLD THE
WAR, AND THE HEAD OF SECURITY IN
BRITAIN, THE HEAD OF OUR SECRET
SERVICES, SAID HE THOUGHT THE
PRESS DID A JOLLY GOOD JOB.
WELL HE WOULD, WOULDN'T HE?
AS WE NOW KNOW, ALL THIS
EVIDENCE HAS PROVED TO BE
UNTRUE, AND THE RESULT IS THAT
MR. BLAIR IS STILL THE PRIME
MINISTER, AND THE JOURNALISTS
WHO POINTED OUT THAT IT WAS
UNTRUE, HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS.
DON'T SAY THOUGH, THAT OUR
REPORTERS DIDN'T HELP TO
PROPAGATE THIS LIE.
MAYBE AT SOME POINT LAST YEAR,
THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A REALITY
CHECK.
IN THE PENTAGON, YOU KNOW, THEY
RE-SHOWED GILLO PONTECORVO'S
TERRIFYING 1965 FILM ON THE
FRENCH WAR IN ALGERIA, “LE
BATAILLE DE L'ALGEIRS” IN BLACK
AND WHITE, WHICH SHOWED WHAT
HAPPENED TO BOTH THE GUERRILLAS
OF THE FLN, AND THE FRENCH ARMY,
WHEN THEIR WAR TURNED DIRTY.
TORTURE, ASSASSINATION, BOOBY
TRAP BOMBS, SECRET EXECUTIONS.
THE FLIERS SENT
OUT BY THE PENTAGON TO TRY AND
GET PENTAGON OFFICIALS TO WATCH
THIS MOVIE, SAID, “HOW TO WIN A
WAR AGAINST TERRORISM AND LOSE
THE WAR OF IDEAS.”
BUT THE AMERICANS DIDN'T NEED TO
WATCH THIS FILM, THEY WERE
ALREADY DOING IT.
THE FRENCH
MISTAKES, IN IRAQ HAVE ALMOST
ALL NOW BEEN REPEATED, INCLUDING
TORTURE, AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF
TORTURE VICTIMS.
MEN GUNNED DOWN IN FALLUJAH, MEN
GUNNED DOWN IN MOSEL, OLD NEWS.
IRAQI POLICEMEN SHOT BY U.S.
TROOPS, OLD NEWS, NO INFORMATION
THE OCCUPATION AUTHORITIES TELL US.
GO LOOK AT THE MORTUARIES OF
IRAQ CITIES AND YOU WILL SEE
TENS OF PEOPLE, DOZENS IN A
WEEK, AND THE OCCUPATION
AUTHORITIES WILL TELL YOU THEY
HAVE NO INFORMATION, THEY DO NOT
KEEP A COUNT.
WESTERN SOLDIERS, POLES,
BULGARIANS, NON-GOVERNMENTAL
ORGANISATION STAFF, AMERICAN
TROOPS, YES, THEY'LL HAVE THE
EXACT FIGURES, BUT IRAQIS, NO.
IF YOU COUNT JUST THE DEAD GOING
INTO THE NAJAF CEMETERY, WHICH
WE HAVE, AND YOU MULTIPLY THAT
PLUS THE BAGHDAD DEATHS BY
SEVEN, AT ONE POINT LAST YEAR
ALMOST 1,000 IRAQI CIVILIANS
WERE BEING KILLED EVERY WEEK.
AND OF COURSE, SOMEWHERE IN THE
CAVERNOUS MARBLE HALLS OF
PROCONSUL PAUL BREMER'S OFFICES,
FORMALLY SADDAM'S REPUBLICAN
PALACE, SOMEONE MUST HAVE BEEN
CALCULATING THESE STATISTICS,
BUT THEY NEVER BECAME PUBLIC.
DEATH, UNLESS IT'S ON A
SPECTACULAR SCALE, LIKE THE
JORDANIAN EMBASSY, THE U.N.
HEADQUARTERS, THE ICRC
HEADQUARTERS, THE NAJAF
BOMBINGS, SIMPLY DIDN'T GET ON
THE AIR, CERTAINLY NOT ON THE
AMERICAN RUN IRAQI TELEVISION
STATIONS.
WHAT WAS HAPPENING INSIDE THE
U.S. OCCUPATION ARMY WAS ALMOST
AS MUCH OF A MYSTERY AS THE
NIGHTLY CULL OF CIVILIANS.
MY OLD FRIEND TOM FRIEDMAN, IN A
BREAK FROM HIS ROLE AS MESSIANIC
COMMENTATOR FOR THE NEW YORK
TIMES, PUT HIS FINGER ON THE
PROBLEM, WHEN ARRANGING A
MEETING WITH AN OCCUPATION
OFFICIAL IN BAGHDAD, HE REPORTED
ASKING AN AMERICAN SOLDIER AT A
BRIDGE CHECKPOINT FOR HIS
LOCATION.
“THE ENEMY SIDE OF THE BRIDGE,
SIR,” CAME THE REPLY.
ENEMY, THAT'S HOW THE FRENCH
CAME TO SEE EVERY NATIVE
ALGERIAN.
TALK NOW TO THE SOLDIERS IN THE
STREETS OF BAGHDAD, IF THEY'LL
TALK TO YOU, AND MANY OF THEM,
MANY OF THEM WILL USE OBSCENE
LANGUAGE IN BETWEEN HEARTFELT
AND PERFECTLY UNDERSTANDABLE
DEMANDS TO GO HOME.
INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION IS AS
WARPED BY IDEOLOGY AS WAS THE
ILLEGAL ANGLO-AMERICAN INVASION
OF IRAQ.
HAVING FAILED TO RECEIVE THE
WELCOME DESERVED OF LIBERATORS,
THE AMERICANS HAD TO CONVINCE
THEMSELVES THAT THEIR
TORMENTORS, SAVE FOR THE FAMOUS
SADDAM REMNANTS, DEAD ENDERS,
DIEHARDS, WERE ALL FOREIGN
FIGHTERS.
WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THIS IN THE
BRITISH EXPERIENCE.
WE HAVE TO IMAGINE ISLAMISTS
ARRIVING FROM IRAN, SYRIA, SAUDI
ARABIA, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN,
AMONG IT'S 1,000 “SECURITY
PRISONERS” AT BAGHDAD AIRPORT,
THE TOTAL AT THIS STAGE OF LAST
YEAR WAS 5,500, ONLY 200 WERE
SAID TO BE FOREIGNERS, AND IN
MANY CASES, THEY HAD ENTERED THE
COUNTRY BEFORE THE INVASION, AND
DIDN'T HAVE PASSPORTS.
IN REALITY NO ONE HAS PRODUCED A
SHRED OF EVIDENCE THAT Q'AIDA
MEN ARE STREAMING INTO THE
COUNTRY.
NOT A SINGLE SIGHTING HAS BEEN
REPORTED.
WE'VE BEEN TOLD AFTER THE NAJAF
BOMBING, WE'VE CAPTURED TWO
SAUDIS AND A YEMENI PASSPORT.
GO TO NAJAF, AND THE POLICE
HAVEN'T SEEN THE SAUDIS, AND
THERE'S NO PASSPORT.
AL-KAUDI, YES, HE IS AN AL
QA'IEDA MAN.
HE WAS WOUNDED IN TORA BORA.
BUT HE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF A
TRIBE THAT'S ALSO IRAQI.
HE WOULDN'T COUNT HIMSELF AN
OUTSIDER.
AND AS FOR CIVIL WAR, WE'RE
CONSTANTLY BEING TOLD, THERE'S
GOING TO BE A CIVIL WAR IN IRAQ
IF THE AMERICANS LEAVE, IF YOU
DON'T GET DEMOCRACY.
I DON'T BELIEVE THERE WILL BE A
CIVIL WAR IN IRAQ.
THERE NEVER HAS BEEN A CIVIL WAR
IN IRAQ.
NOT LONG AGO, I WENT TO THE
FUNERAL OF A SUNNI DOCTOR WHO
HAD BEEN MURDERED IN HIS WAITING
ROOM.
HE HAD EARLIER PROTESTED AT THE
BUILDING OF A SHIA MOSANEA, A
SMALL MOSQUE AT THE END OF HIS
STREET.
MANY PEOPLE ON THAT STREET
BELIEVED, AND I MUST SAY, I
RATHER SUSPECTED THAT IT WAS A
SHIA MILITIA-- SHIA MILITIA
GUNMAN WHO KILLED HIM, WALKED
INTO HIS DOCTOR'S SURGERY AND
SHOT HIM TWICE IN HIS CHAIR,
WHERE THE FAMILY FOUND HIM.
SO I WENT ALONG TO THE FUNERAL
AND AFTERWARDS TO THE MEAL WHICH
THE FAMILY HELD, THE NEIGHBOURS
AND RELATIVES, WELL-WISHERS.
AND I SAID TO THE BROTHER OF THE
DOCTOR, WHO WAS A SUNNI, OF
COURSE, DO YOU THINK THERE WILL
BE A CIVIL WAR?
AND HE SAID, “WHY DO YOU
WESTERNERS WANT US TO HAVE A
CIVIL WAR?”
HE SAID, “THE TRIBES OF THIS
COUNTRY ARE INTERMIXED BETWEEN
SUNNIS AND SHIAS, YOU DON'T
UNDERSTAND THAT.”
HE SAID, “MY WIFE IS A SHIA, DO
YOU WANT ME TO KILL HER NOW?”
GOOD POINT, BUT OF COURSE, THE
NEXT AFTERNOON WHEN I WENT TO
THE FAMOUS 4:00 FOLLIES, THERE
WERE THE AMERICANS AND THE
BRITISH AGAIN, WARNING OF CIVIL
WAR IF THERE WAS NOT DEMOCRACY
IN IRAQ.
I THINK, AND RATHER THIS DOCTOR
BELIEVED, THAT WE ARE TRYING TO
FRIGHTEN THE IRAQIS INTO
OBEDIENCE BY TALK OF CIVIL WAR,
WHICH IF WE JOURNALISTS, HAD
ORIGINALLY MENTIONED IT, WE
WOULD HAVE BEEN ACCUSED BY THE
OCCUPATION AUTHORITIES, OF BEING
HIGHLY IRRESPONSIBLE, AND THEY
WOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT IN SAYING THAT.
THE STRANGE
THING AT THE MOMENT IS, THAT
STILL WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE
WITH MR. BUSH AND MR. RUMSFELD,
THAT OSAMA BIN LADEN'S MEN ARE
POURING INTO IRAQ, AND IF YOU
ACTUALLY READ WHAT SADDAM SAYS,
HE WANTS HIS PEOPLE IN IRAQ.
I DON'T THINK THEY'RE THERE.
RUMSFELD AND BIN LADEN BOTH WANT
AL QA'EIDA IN IRAQ, AND BOTH
HAVEN'T GOT THEM THERE YET.
A VERY STRANGE
THING ABOUT BIN LADEN, YOU KNOW,
IF YOU ACTUALLY-- WHENEVER HE'S
REPORTED, HE MAKES A LONG AND
TORTUROUS AND TIRESOME SPEECH ON
BAD TAPE.
AND ALWAYS THE REPORTERS REPORT
IT, THEY SAY, TWO QUESTIONS,
HAVE THE CIA CONFIRMED IT'S HIS
VOICE, IS HE ALIVE AND WHERE IS
HE?
THAT'S IT.
BUT IF YOU ACTUALLY, GET -- IT'S
ACTUALLY THAT THICK, THE
COLLECTED WISDOM OF OSAMA BIN
LADEN SINCE SEPTEMBER 11th 2001,
AND READ THROUGH THIS TIRESOME
STUFF, IT'S EXTRAORDINARY.
HE IS OBSESSED WITH HISTORY, THE
TRAGEDY OF ANDALUSIA, HE'D LIKE
TO HAVE MUSLIM SPAIN BACK.
REVERS, BRING THE MARISCOS BACK,
REVERSE 1482.
HE TALKS ABOUT THE SEVRE TREATY,
HE TALKS ABOUT THE SYKES-PICOT
AGREEMENT.
IT'S ALL ABOUT HISTORY, WHICH
THE AMERICANS DO NOT TALK ABOUT,
AND SHOULD.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF FOREIGN
FIGHTERS IN IRAQ.
136,000 OF THEM ARE WEARING
AMERICAN UNIFORMS.
[Audience laughter]
[Applause]
BUT--
BUT WHERE, OH WHERE ARE THE
FOREIGN FIGHTERS THAT MR.
RUMSFELD AND MR. BIN LADEN ARE
TALKING ABOUT?
THERE ARE OTHER FOREIGN MEN AND
WOMEN APLENTY IN BAGHDAD,
AMERICANS AND BRITAINS PROMINENT
AMONG THEM, WHO HAVE WORKED
HARD, THOUGH VAINLY, TO BRING
ABOUT THE FALSE PROMISES UTTERED
BY MESSIEURS BUSH AND BLAIR.
TO CREATE A DECENT, DEMOCRATIC
IRAQI SOCIETY.
ONE OF THEM WAS CALLED CHRIS
WOLFORD, A BRIT, WHOSE ACCOUNT
OF LIFE IN BREMER'S MARBLE
PALACE APPEARED ONLY IN THE
INTERNAL NEWSLETTER OF THE
BRITISH REGULATORY OFFICE FOR
MOBILE TELEPHONES, FOR WHOM HE
NORMALLY WORKS.
MR. WOLFORD, I THINK YOU SHOULD
SHARE THIS INFORMATION FROM MR.
WOLFORD.
MR. WOLFORD INSISTED THAT THERE
WERE SIGNS OF HOPE IN IRAQ.
THE PAYMENT OF EMERGENCY
SALARIES TO CIVIL SERVANTS, THE
REOPENING OF SCHOOLS AND
ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES, BUT IT'S
WORTH RECORDING, I THINK, HIS
REVEALING DESCRIPTION OF LIFE
UNDER BREMER.
“LIFE IN BAGHDAD CAN ONLY BE
DESCRIBED AS BIZARRE.
WE ARE BASED WITHIN A HUGE
COMPOUND IN SADDAM HUSSEIN'S
FORMER PRESIDENTIAL PALACE.
THE PLACE IS AWASH WITH VAST
MARBLE BALLROOMS, CONFERENCE
ROOMS, NOW USED AS A DINING
ROOM, A CHAPEL, WITH MURALS OF
SCUD MISSILES, AND HUNDREDS OF
FUNCTION ROOMS WITH ORNATE
CHANDELIERS, WHICH WERE PROBABLY
GREAT FOR ENTERTAINING, BUT
WHICH FUNCTION LESS WELL AS
OFFICES AND DORMITORIES.”
THIS IS THE SO-CALLED GREEN ZONE
IN BAGHDAD, BY THE WAY, FROM
WHICH THE LAST HELICOPTER WILL
DULY TAKE OFF, NO DOUBT.
[Murmuring]
“I WORK IN THE MINISTRIES WING
OF THE PALACE, IN THE MINISTRY
OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS.
WITHIN THIS WING, EACH DOOR
ALONG THE CORRIDOR REPRESENTS A
SEPARATE MINISTRY.
NEXT DOOR TO US IS THE MINISTRY
OF HEALTH AND DIRECTLY ACROSS
THE CORRIDOR IS THE FINANCE
MINISTRY.
BEHIND EACH DOOR, MILITARY AND
CIVILIAN COALITION MEMBERS
MAINLY AMERICAN, WITH THE ODD
BRIT DOTTED ABOUT,” BRITS ARE
ALWAYS ODD, AREN'T THEY?
“ARE BEAVERING AWAY TRYING TO
SORT OUT THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL
AND POLITICAL ISSUES CURRENTLY
FACING IRAQ.
THE WORK IS UNDOUBTEDLY FOR A
GOOD CAUSE, BUT IT CANNOT BUT
HELP FEEL STRANGE AS OUR CONTACT
WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD, THE REAL
IRAQ, IS SO LIMITED.
OUR MEETINGS WITH OUR IRAQI
COUNTERPARTS ARE DIFFICULT TO
ARRANGE, BECAUSE KEY DECISIONS
ARE STILL VERY MUCH TAKEN BEHIND
THE CLOSED DOORS OF THE CPA, OR
FOR THE MOST SIGNIFICANT
DECISIONS, BACK IN WASHINGTON,
D.C., OF COURSE.
AS FOR CONTACTING IRAQI
COUNTERPARTS, IRAQI OFFICIALS
ARE SOMETIMES ASKED TO STAND
OUTSIDE IN THEIR GARDEN, BETWEEN
7 P.M. AND 8 P.M., SO THAT WE
CAN RING THEM ON SATELLITE
PHONES.
IS IT ANY WONDER, LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN, THAT THIS WHOLE
ADVENTURE HAS FAILED?
AND WHAT IS BECOMING APPARENT,
AND WHAT WAS BECOMING APPARENT
TO US LAST YEAR, I DON'T THINK
WE CARED ABOUT THE IRAQIS.
WE DIDN'T CARE ABOUT IT WHEN WE
KILLED THEM, WHEN THEY DIED,
WHEN THEY WERE KILLED BY OTHER
IRAQIS, BY MARAUDING RAPE
SQUADS, BY THIEVES, BY LOOTERS.
UNDER THE MANDATE GIVEN BY THE
UNITED NATIONS, WE HAVE A DUTY
TO CARE ABOUT THE IRAQIS, AND I
DON'T THINK WE CARED.
WE WESTERNERS, THROUGH OUR
ALLIANCES, THROUGH OUR MILITARY
INVOLVEMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST,
THROUGH OUR FAILURE TO ACT IN
THE FACE OF DECADES OF
BRUTALITY, HAVE CREATED REAL
ENEMIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
IN IRAQ, WE HAVE NOW BEEN DOING
THE SAME FOR WELL OVER A YEAR.
IN IRAQ, THE SUICIDE BOMBER HAS
JOINED AMERICA'S ENEMIES JUST AS
HE DID IN LEBANON.
WE LIED ABOUT LEBANON, WE SAID
WE WERE COMING TO SAVE THE
PALESTINIANS.
IN BOSNIA, WE EVENTUALLY
INTERVENED, FAR TOO LATE AGAIN,
TO SAVE THE MUSLIMS.
IN IRAQ, WE INTERVENED TWO
DECADES TOO LATE TO SAVE THE
IRAQIS.
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION,
INDEED -- DEMOCRACY, INDEED --
LIBERATION, INDEED.
18 MONTHS AGO, SLIGHTLY MORE
NOW, I BOUGHT AT AUCTION IN
BRITAIN, A POSTER, WHICH
LIEUTENANT GENERAL SIR STANLEY
MOORE, GENERAL OFFICER
COMMANDING BRITISH FORCES,
BAGHDAD, IN 1917, PUT UP ON THE
STREETS OF BAGHDAD AFTER THE
SUCCESSFUL BRITISH INVASION.
HERE'S A COPY.

He shows a photocopy of a document and continues
“PROCLAMATION” BRITISH COAT OF ARMS.
“TO THE PEOPLE OF THE VILLAYA OF
BAGHDAD,” THE GOVERNORATE OF BAGHDAD.
“WE COME HERE NOT AS CONQUERORS,
BUT AS LIBERATORS TO FREE YOU
FROM GENERATIONS OF TYRANNY.”
SOUND FAMILIAR?
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, AT THIS
POINT, I THINK THAT BOTH THE
PARALLELS AND THE LESSONS ARE
TOO PERHAPS PAINFUL TO CONTINUE.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE TONIGHT.

[Long applause]

Watch: Robert Fisk on The Fantasy War