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IRAQ: What Iraq?

There has been much talk about who will run post-war Iraq and what corporations will get contracts. A more basic question is: what kind of Iraq will there be to run? George Sassoon is not optimistic: "Recently the TV has reported that a "cruise missile" hit a residential and shopping area in north Baghdad, killing and wounding a number of people. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not a coalition weapon was responsible. It is quite likely that Saddam perpetrated this outrage himself, for propaganda purposes. I am reminded of an incident in the Bosnian civil war when a mortar shell landed on a market in Sarajevo. A lot of people were killed, mostly old women.

A British General (Sir Michael Rose, I think) wrote a book about his experiences in Bosnia, which was serialised in one of the British newspapers. In the serialisation, he said that they had analysed the trajectory of the mortar bomb and concluded that it had been fired by the Bosnians themselves. This did not appear in the actual book when it came out, which I read carefully looking for an account of the incident. I asked my friends in Belgrade about this, and they were unsurprised. The old women were just "useless mouths", and if their deaths served some propaganda purpose, why not bomb them? This sort of thing is standard practice in the Balkans, they said. It looks as if when the dust has settled, Iraq will become another Bosnia with a three-cornered civil war and the coalition powers given the thankless task of stopping it".

RH: "Thankless" is the key word. It is unlikely that the people of Iraq will be grateful, although the exiles will be, assuming that they can and will return home and prosper. Still, I am puzzled about the book. Was the incident to which George refers omitted because it was found to be untrue?

Ronald Hilton - 3/29/03