By Felicity Arbuthnot
“You angels, Pure ones, Liberators, Leaders …At this moment all I ask of you is a miracle, Just for you to know how to say Goodbye, GOODBYE, Just a miracle : a Goodbye.” (Adonis (Ali Ahmed Said) “Victims of a Map”, Saqi Books.)
All wars (and invasions) have one image which is forever the blood-soaked whole. The naked child, traumatized to beyond terror, fleeing in Viet Nam; Robert Capa’s 1936, “Falling Soldier”, in the Spanish civil war, taken at Cerro Muriano. Guantanamo Bay’s orange jump-suited, shackled victims, will surely be how history depicts U.S. policy and commitment to humanity, in the second millennium. The infamous jump suits are, ironically, it seems, made by prisoners at Fort Worth jail, in George W. Bush’s Texas. Britain, as ever, has a hand in this obscenity. Hiatt and Company of Birmingham, in the north of England, has been proudly making shackles, since they made “nigger collars” for the slave trade and now supply the shackles for the lost souls of Guantanamo Bay.
On Wednesday 10th January, the fifth anniversary of the opening of this “gulag of our times”, protests were held across the globe – and outside Hiatt where former detainees of this abomination, relations of those held and campaigners demonstrated – in orange jump suits.
Renowned human rights lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, M.P. Clare Short, Dr Adnan Siddiqui of “Caged Prisoners” and author and arms activist, Mark Thomas had written in a letter to the (London) Observer (7th January) explaining the forthcoming actions, and concluding: “As the abolitionist William Wilberforce put it: ‘If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.’ To this we will also plead guilty – outside the Hiatt factory.” They also cite a further hundred secret prisons globally and fourteen thousand prisoners unaccounted for. (http://www.guantanamo.org.uk )
Further, the real fanatics in Guantanamo Bay, it transpires, have been dressing up as priests and “baptizing” Muslim detainees, deprived of all normality – and wrapping them in the Israeli flag.
Iraq’s ongoing, “liberated”, blood and gore, continues to flow through the haunting, ancient, spiritual land. Is Iraq under occupation, the image of the tiny blood spattered child in Tel Afar, witness to the massacre of her entire family by America’s finest? Is it the wistful, beautiful face of the five year old Abeer Qassim Al Janabi, raped at fourteen, then burned, with her family, at Mahmudiya in June, by retards in US uniforms? Reportedly the ring leader, Pfc., Steven D. Green had been diagnosed with an “anti-social personality disorder” (you could say that again) but clearly his four colleagues cannot have been too well bolted down on all four corners. Perhaps U.S. Army recruiting screening needs a bit of an overhaul. Such crazies would surely be on death row, in the “land of the free”.
“Any animal in the West lives better than any Iraqi under occupation”, an Iraqi who had fled to Amman told the BBC., on ‘Guantanamo Wednesday.’
And American values, from which Iraq, Afghanistan and now Somalia – bombing nomadic herdsmen there seems to have become popular – are spreading rapidly. Within days of the hanging of Iraq’s legitimate President, after a trial which made the Spanish Inquisition look benign, eight children across the globe had hung themselves, emulating the grizzly, shameful spectacle, which heralded the New Year. One was a ten year old in the U.S. oil capitol, Houston, Texas, geographically just up the road from Crawford, home to the President and former State Governor, who invaded Iraq for oil. What an irony.
In Algeria, a group of schoolchildren hung a twelve year old, in a “game”. The US Army is mooting taking on non-nationals, since recruitment is plunging. These kids clearly have attributes which should fit well, in a few years.
A fifteen year old in India, could not eat for two days in her distress at Saddam’s hanging, saying she wanted to feel his pain. “We didn’t take her Seriously”, said her distraught father, after she did just that. Her heart- rending empathy is in stark contrast to Britain’s dour Prime Minister in waiting, Gordon Brown (forget democracy, voting for a new Prime Minister, even Iraq style, we are to have him and that is that) commented eventually, that the method of the hanging, was “deplorable”. Is such mediaeval barbarism ever other?
Lord Blair of Kut Al Amara – 1917 site of : “the most humiliating defeat in British military history” (they went there to protect the oilfields) as dubbed by the Independent’s Robert Fisk, busy in Florida, with his tan, said nothing for some days, finally regretting; “the manner of his execution”, by the US/UK’s “coalition” appointed low life thugs in the “New Iraq”. Apart from the shameful, malevolent savagery itself, it appears Saddam Hussein’s throat was cut immediately afterwards, which seems to have passed Blair by. Perhaps when a being has slaughter on such an unimaginable scale on their hands, further horrors fail to register.
President Bush, never a man to be squeamish when it comes to signing a death warrant, said the hanging could have been done, “…in a more dignified way”, but “nevertheless he was given justice”. Texas justice, maybe? There will, he says, be a “full investigation”. A bit late. Oh, and is not the Iraqi government “sovereign” and “independent” of the U.S.?
Now the world is to be treated to another “new strategy” in Iraq, a final “surge” to clear “insurgents”, home by home, street by street, district by district. Baghdad’s gracious Haifa Street has become a “hotbed” and is being bombed mercilessly. It was never a “hotbed”, pre-invasion, when, as in the rest of the great, ancient capitol, visitors and residents drove and walked, at all hours, in this formerly late night city, without a glance over the shoulder. Districts are to be, chillingly: “cleansed”. Bush’s “surge” sounds more like: “the final solution”. And again: “We are determined to rid Iraq of foreign fighters”. Duh? And yet again, defeat “is not an option”. Indeed. It is a certainty.
There is a relevant and memorable quote from a Viet Nam veteran. Thomas Hastie: “One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.”
Meanwhile, Tony Blair lectured experienced military and naval experts on H.M.S. Albion, based in Plymouth, from where Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) an early “privateer”, set off to plunder the Andes silver. He got away with that, defeated the Spanish, tried to ferment an uprising in Portugal, failed, was disgraced by a furious Queen and died of yellow fever, in another failed plunder in Panama.
“Albion” was the early name for Britain, ever immortalized by Napoleon Bonarparte’s scathing : “Perfide Albion”.(“Perfidious Albion” – “perfidious”: Dict: treacherous or deceitful.) History also records an earlier quote from Bossuet (1627-1704) “L’Angleterre, ah! La perfide Angleterre”. Symbolism stalks Tony Blair, as delusion, it seems. It was the first in a series of addresses Downing Street call his “big picture”, prior to departure, talks. Given the glazed, slumped demeanor of his distinguished audience, it appeared anything but.
March, the fourth anniversary of the apocalyptic disaster of the illegal invasion of Iraq, heralds the ninetieth anniversary of British General Stanley Maude’s “Declaration of Baghdad” (11th March 1917.) “Our armies to not come in to your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.” He lies in Baghdad’s North Gate Cemetery, along with his invaders ambitions. 29th April 2007, marks ninety one years since the defeat of the British at Kut. 28th April 2007, marks the seventieth birthday of a legal and assassinated elderly Iraqi President, hung in perfidy; he had to be disposed of before the New Year, a clean start, the world was told, in “independent” largely Muslim Iraq. The Islamic New Year is 20th January. Prime Minister Maliki’s decision? Never. A puppet on a string, or perhaps, later a noose.
And as President Bush and Anthony Blair QC., seek to walk in sunset, anywhere, as they scuttle from their disgraced tenures, their image will be forever a lynched legitimate leader, at the end of a noose. And for Blair the final confirmation of the utterly delusional: he sees his future as being a global “envoy for peace”. Men in white coats time.
-Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq".