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Iraq’s U.N. headquarters hit by blast

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Iraq’s U.N. headquarters hit by blast

Top U.N. envoy among injured; U.S. says car bomb caused explosion

A car bomb explosion at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad Tuesday tore through the complex and caused scores of casualties, the U.S. military said.



BAGHDAD, Iraq Aug 19 — A car bomb exploded in front of the hotel housing the U.N. headquarters on Tuesday, collapsing the front of the building, the U.S. military said. There were conflicting accounts on casualties with the Associated Press reporting that at least nine people were wounded while witnesses told Reuters that three people were killed. The top U.N. representative to Iraq was reportedly among the injured.

A U.N. DRIVER said he saw Iraqis and foreigners injured in the wreckage. An Associated Press reporter said he could see nine people being carried out of the hotel on stretchers.

Sgt. Amy Abbott said the 4:30 p.m. blast was caused by a car bomb. She said military ambulances and security forces were at the scene. She said she did not yet have casualty figures and did not know if anyone had been killed.

At least four Black Helicopters could be seen on the grounds at the hotel and more were flying in, apparently to ferry away the victims.

A light blue U.N. flag fluttered atop the compound as black smoke rose from at least one burning car. One corner of the building was missing and people were seen sifting through piles of rubble. Injured people were loaded into a helicopter while others were led away by soldiers.

Security forces and U.S. soldiers formed a cordon around the palm-tree lined compound.

The U.N. spokesman in Baghdad, Salim Lone, informed U.N. headquarters in New York that a number of people were hurt in the explosion, but no one was killed as far as he knew.

He said the explosion destroyed a significant part of the building, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York.

Separately, Lone told the BBC by telephone from the scene that rescue workers were struggling to free Vieira de Mello, Kofi Annan’s handpicked representative to Iraq, from the wreckage of his office, which was close to the main explosion.

“All this happened right below the window of Sergio Vieira de Mello. I guess it was targeted for that,†Lone said


The blast knocked windows out of houses as far away as a mile away, residents said. The hotel sits in

northeast Baghdad.

Dozens of U.S. Humvees were at the scene and at least two Black Hawk helicopters hovered above. Black smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air.

United Nations weapons inspectors worked out of the hotel during the period before the war in Iraq as the international community sought, but failed to find, Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

“My house shook like it did during the bombing at the start of the war,†a resident in the area around the hotel said.


Please check back for more details on this breaking news story.


Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. officials reported that a rocket-propelled grenade and gun attack on a U.S. convoy north of Baghdad wounded two American soldiers.

Lieutenant Colonel William MacDonald of the 4th Infantry Division said the convoy was attacked near Balad, a town in the “Sunni Triangle†north and west of Baghdad where support for fugitive dictator Saddam Hussein remains strong.

Also in the region, at least seven Iraqis were killed Monday in a blast at an ammunition dump north of Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. MacDonald said U.S. troops investigating the explosion found one body at the scene and Iraqi police later found a further six.

The identities of those killed were not known, but soldiers said the ammunition dump had been often targeted by looters.

U.S. seizes former Iraqi VP

In Ramadi, another Sunni stronghold west of Baghdad, witnesses said a U.S. convoy was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades on Tuesday morning and at least one soldier was wounded. However, a U.S. Army spokesman had no immediate information.


Meantime, details were still sketchy about an incident Monday when a 1st Armored Division soldier was killed by an explosive device.

The incident took place in the Karadah District of Baghdad. The soldier was medically evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. ET), Central Command said in astatement.

The military did not release any further details, and it was not clear if the blast was the result of a hostile act. The soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of his next of kin.

Since Washington declared major combat over on May 1, 61 U.S. and seven British soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq. The United States blames the guerrilla campaign on hardcore Saddam loyalists, and says some foreign militants have also entered the ountry to mount attacks on U.S. forces.

WashPost: Iraqi clerics’ ties worry U.S.



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Annan Says U.S. Failed to Ensure Security in Iraq

TEHRAN - UN chief Kofi Annan insisted Wednesday that the United Nations had no plans to pull out of Iraq despite the bombing of its Baghdad headquarters, taking a swipe at the U.S.-led coalition, which he said was responsible for security.

"We will carry on our mandate that has been given to us by the Security Council," the secretary general said at a news conference at Stockholm airport shortly before he was due to board a flight to New York. Asked whether the UN was planning to withdraw staff from Iraq, Annan said: "We do not intend to do this. We are assessing the situation."

The truck bombing, which killed at least 24 people at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, came on the heels of a wave of attacks on coalition forces in recent months.

"The least we owe them is to ensure that their deaths have not been in vain. We shall continue," he said.

Annan criticized the United States for failing to secure the situation in Iraq for international humanitarian workers: "The occupying power is responsible for law and order and the security of the country," he said.

"We had hoped that by now the coalition forces would have secured the environment for us to be able to carry on the essential work of political and economic reconstruction, institution-building and for Iraqis to carry on with their work," he said.

"That has not happened," he said, while acknowledging that it was difficult to prevent such an attack.

A U.S. military spokesman disagreed with Annan, saying the United Nations was in charge of its own security. "It was a UN issue to provide their own security," said Lieutenant Peter Rekers.

"They had a private security company providing security around the (UN) compound," Rekers said.

The United Nations and the U.S. have been at loggerheads over the question of security in Iraq, and the UN's role in general.

According to a report last week in the New York Times, Washington is no longer seeking a major UN role in the occupation of Iraq, and will instead try to enlist individual countries to help the U.S.-led occupation forces.

The report said the U.S. government had specifically opted against giving the United Nations any authority over security in Iraq.

Other reports have indicated that Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld is strongly opposed to any dilution of military authority over Iraq by involving the United Nations.

It is feared, the reports said, that a UN role might actually hamper US operations, including against guerrillas or terrorists in Iraq. Meanwhile, the US-led coalition said it would re-evaluate its security procedures following the attack.

Annan said the UN would also review its security in Iraq and the rest of the world, adding that the Security Council would meet later on Wednesday to discuss its next moves.

The UN's mandate in Iraq includes coordinating humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, promoting the safe return of refugees and facilitating the reconstruction of key infrastructure.

The top UN envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was among those killed in Tuesday's truck bombing, which Annan qualified as a "brutal act of senseless violence".

"Yesterday was a dark Tuesday for the UN, Iraq and international solidarity. On that day the United Nations lost some of its most outstanding public servants, including Sergio Vieira de Mello," said Annan, with tears in his eyes.

Annan said he believed Tuesday's bombing and recent attacks against the coalition were the result of an organized rebellion and not independent acts carried out by disgruntled Iraqis.

"Obviously it seems to be much more organized and much deeper than one thought at the beginning," he said.

"I do not know who they are, what their cause is or what god they pray to but what they did yesterday will not serve their cause nor their goal," he said, a day after cutting short his holiday in Finland to return to New York.

The blast at UN headquarters in Iraq has been condemned worldwide. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi also expressed sorrow over the death of de Mello.

In a message to Annan, Kharrazi said that de Mello had made great efforts to carry out his duty.

"De Mello did his best to enable the United Nations to play its role in Iraq in order to help the Iraqi people rule over their own fate.

Iraq's 25-member Governing Council called Wednesday for three days of national mourning in the aftermath of the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad and said it would name a state monument after de Mello who was killed in the blast.

"The Governing Council ... decided to declare three days of mourning and calls for the naming of an important monument in Iraq after Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was a friend of the Iraqi people," said council member Ahmad Chalabi, a Pentagon favorite who heads the Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi told reporters the council was calling for a public memorial service in honor of the 17 killed and more than 100 wounded when a truck bomb ripped a section off a front corner of the UN's headquarters at the Canal Hotel.

He said the council would send a condolence letter to Vieira de Mello's family and vowed to continue working with the United Nations.

The top U.S. dailies said Wednesday that the United States must beef up security in Iraq, allowing a greater international presence and halt the flow of "terrorists" from other countries.

The devastating attack "is a bloody reminder that the epicenter of the global war on terror is now Iraq," and validates the link between toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda network, The Wall Street Journal said.

"The administration should also drop its ideological resistance to a larger UN role in Iraq -- and prevail on the UN to maintain its presence, despite the terrible bloodshed," said The New York Times. The daily also published a brief editorial in memory of fallen top UN envoy to Iraq, Brazilian Sergio Viera de Mello, "a great champion of peace and reconciliation" who "represented international civil service at its best." The Washington Post described Viera de Mello as "the most talented and dedicated United Nations diplomat of his generation."

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Originally posted by breakbeatz2

you read an article like that and that is what you pull from it.

She is a rotted twat...plain and simple....and seeks out and promotes every anti-American element she can find.....

She is a dispicable, hypocritical shitbag.....she hates this country, but certainly enjoys everything this country affords her....sickening...

Of course, the one-sided, hate America, clueless dickhead wouldn't know that the UN specifically did not want an American military presence at the building, in order to maintain a perspective of neutrality...

And Kofi should exercise better judgement with his comments---since he seems to have selective memory on the effectiveness of the organization he runs....

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Originally posted by igloo

She is a rotted twat...plain and simple....and seeks out and promotes every anti-American element she can find.....

She is a dispicable, hypocritical shitbag.....she hates this country, but certainly enjoys everything this country affords her....sickening...

Of course, the one-sided, hate America, clueless dickhead wouldn't know that the UN specifically did not want an American military presence at the building, in order to maintain a perspective of neutrality...

And Kofi should exercise better judgement with his comments---since he seems to have selective memory on the effectiveness of the organization he runs....

i gotta agree with you on the bette judgement part. if he really said that, then it was very foolish of him. blaming the US is completely absurd.

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Dispatch From Baghdad -

'A Catastrophe Here'

From Anita Roddick.com


Scott Fleming, my good friend and attorney for the Angola Three, is in Baghdad with a crew of journalists. He has been sending dispatches from Baghdad that make it sound like hell on earth. I'll be publishing his emails to me here as they come in.

Sunday, 3 August I'm in Baghdad and it's Sunday night. Today was perhaps the most bizarre, terrifying (although my traveling companions and I were never in any immediate danger), and mind-blowing day of my life. We left lovely Amman at 4 a.m. and were in Baghdad by about 3 p.m. The landscape, physical, climatological, and cultural, changed so much that the night bore no resemblance to the morning. I can't possibly catalog it all, but I can give some impressions.

We crossed the border and headed into Iraq at about 10 a.m. A GMC Suburban, the choice of foreign travelers, at $500 cash for the trip. perhaps 100km into the western desert, and burned out cars appear by the roadside. A scorched Ferrari said to have belonged to Uday Hussein, missiled to oblivion as one of his lieutenants tried to escape. Saddam's majestic 6-lane highway from Jordan to Baghdad, probably better than any U.S. desert interstate, marked by scores of burn marks. A highway overpass with a gaping hole caused by a bomb, which we are told was aimed at a passenger bus. A few hundred yards later, the bus itself, utterly destroyed, the only visual comparison to one suicide-bombed in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

A highway rest stop sells water and chocolate bars. Truck drivers stand in 110-degree heat working on their huge, super-heavy-duty overland trucks, which are late 60s models but look like they were (and may have been) just built brand new at some Iranian factory that hasn't been retooled in 35 years. Among the buildings at the rest stop is a pile of rubble, next to it the twisted frames of a tractor-trailer and a Chevy van. We're told the first death of the war took place here, a Jordanian truck driver who was talking on his satellite phone at the wrong rest stop at the wrong time. One of our driver's friends said he had his Suburban shot up by the U.S., and they paid him and his passenger $8,000 to keep quiet about it.

There is heavy truck traffic on the Baghdad-Amman highway. The trucks headed to Baghdad are loaded with supplies, food, and a good number of used cars. The trucks headed to Amman are almost universally empty, as if Iraq has nothing worth exporting except the oil that barely flows.

Miles and miles of downed high-voltage power lines. Cable tower after cable tower broken in exactly the same place. Too precise for airplanes or copters. Special forces or somebody must have systematically placed explosives on all of them. Is this why the lights are out in Baghdad? I don't know.

We cross the Euphrates into Ramadi and Fallujah, where everyone says the highway is beset by Bedouin bandits. Our local drivers definitely fear this stretch, although the bandits don't have a reputation for violence; they just pull guns and demand money. The white GMCs speed up and drive in a convoy for safety. Along this stretch (and at earlier points when they got nervous) they form into a tight defensive driving formation, a squadron of heavy-duty SUVs doing 150 kmh all together. The driver next to us flashes his .45-caliber pistol and a smile to make us (and himself) feel safer.

And then it's the outskirts of Baghdad. Increasingly frequent U.S. Army convoys of Humvees, fuel trucks, heavy trucks with .50-caliber machine guns, and even some street sweepers, which will seem in retrospect futile when we see the condition of the city. Our driver asks me not to photograph the soldiers, because they are "crazy" and he doesn't want me to get us all shot.

The guardrails in the middle of the divided highway have frequently been flattened by us tanks, done to create places for them to make U-turns without exiting the superhighway. Sometimes the guardrails have been pulled out across a full lane of traffic, very dangerous when everyone is traveling at high speed to avoid the bandits.

We pass a huge, terrifying Saddam prison, buildings all sand-colored and surrounded by a tall wall topped with numerous machine gun nests.

As we enter the city itself, it is total chaos. Nothing could have prepared us for this. No traffic lights working anywhere. Traffic going both ways on all one-way streets. Horse carts, motorcycles, SUVs, tanks, Humvees, and pedestrians. Hundreds and hundreds of men lined up in the sun, using newspaper hats and umbrellas, to apply for jobs in the new Iraqi army, whatever that means.

Baghdad is barely smaller than New York, with few tall buildings, meaning lots of sprawl. It's huge. And everywhere there are piles of rubble and bricks. Buildings that have been bombed, shelled, or burned by looters. Huge buildings blackened and broken in every direction. The fairgrounds demolished, and the telephone exchange. Everywhere. Thousands of people going every way on the streets. And smoke. Some buildings are still burning. Trash is burning all over. Every hotel and lots of people have diesel generators, since the U.S. can't seem to get the electricity on. And lots of cars with dirty exhaust.

We get reports that many more us soldiers are dying than the Pentagon admits. Perhaps 5 a day. One of my traveling companions sees four guys drive past our hotel brandishing a gun. Shortly after, the soldiers show up in their Bradley Fighting Vehicle and do a sweep of the neighborhood. Darryl Gates couldn't have dreamed of this kind of aggressive policing. Everyone says to make sure not to dress anything like a GI, and never to talk to soldiers on the street. I don't know whether I'd less want to be an Iraqi civilian or an American Soldier.

Our sort-of air-conditioned hotel suite is $35 a night. Our balcony looks down on a parking lot filled with identical UN vehicles. The streets are full of desperately poor people. They have that look in their eyes. There is nothing for them to do in their own society. A lot of these people probably have university degrees.

We dine at the al-Hamra across the street, the finest hotel in the city since the U.S. shelled the Palestine. A steak is US$5. The generator, and the lights, cut out once during dinner, but nobody seems to notice. Four Australian special forces-looking guys escort some kind of Aussie officials to a table near us, leaving their rifles on the floor of the dining room as they drink Diet Pepsis and wait for their wards to eat. A civilian-looking white guy stands in the lobby with a folding-stock Kalashnikov casually hanging over his shoulder.

And, finally, the sun. I think I can deal with the 115 (or more) degree heat, but the sun is piercing through the dry air. I'm OK, but 20 minutes of it makes me somewhat sunburned. I've never felt anything like it. It adds so much tension to the air.

George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair and Dick Cheney are insane. I don't know what they think they are doing here, but if it involves order and sanity they have failed miserably and indefinitely. It's obvious enough from the newspaper accounts but you have to see it for yourself. They have caused a catastrophe here. The events of the past year have moved so quickly we tend to forget about the effect of 12 years of economic sanctions. "The price is worth it?" I don't know what they're going to do, and the masters of war themselves must be terrified.

We're OK for now. We'll probably be here about nine days. Have lots of good contacts for information and guidance. There is a 24-hour Internet cafe across the street. $3 an hour and very slow, but it works. No phones except satellite phones, which everyone in the Middle East calls by the brand name "Thuraya." All the self-important international journalists have them. We don't.

That's it for now. I've been up for 37 hours straight, and I'm going to bed.

Scott Fleming


Dispatch From Baghdad, Part II

Here is the second of my friend Scott Fleming's dispatches from Baghdad:

Thursday, 7 August

We spent the better part of this afternoon in the middle of a firefight. We left our hotel at around 1 pm, headed for the Jordanian embassy, which was hit by a car bomb early this morning. As we drove out, we saw a tall column of thick black smoke rising straight up into the windless sky just a mile or two away. We told our driver to turn around and we sped to the scene. We were the first journalists there.

We found the smoke coming from the flattened skeleton of a U.S. Humvee, burning pathetically in the street. There were two other vehicles in the convoy, another Humvee and a 2-1/2-ton truck. The soldiers in those vehicles were taking cover behind their rides and waiting for reinforcements. We hustled up just behind them and took cover on the sidewalk. An al-Jazeera cameraman and a couple of others came in behind us.

The assault took place on al-Karada street, which has a lot of shops selling electronic equipment such as refrigerators and air conditioners. We later learned that U.S. troops, to their misfortune, are fond of stopping their patrols there and going shopping for porn DVDs sold by street vendors.

As we laid on the sidewalk, all the ammo in the burning Humvee exploded. It sounded like a very intense 30-second gunfight. When it stopped, we ran across the street and took refuge in an air-conditioner shop. The proprietors offered us water and some cement columns to stand behind.

All the while the U.S. soldiers, perhaps 6 of them, were standing by their vehicles. A good sniper could have hit any of them, and their vehicles would have been easy targets for anyone with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), which are abundant in this city. For awhile, however, there was no shooting.

After a while, the reinforcements showed up. Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the 1st Armored Division and infantry from, I believe, the 101st Airborne. The U.S. decided that the perpetrators of the attack were holed up in a 3-story building housing, apparently, a number of electronics shops and offices. We were about 150 meters back from the building, and the formerly barren street was quickly filled with soldiers ahead and behind us. A local guy told us 150 people worked in the building.

The Bradleys unleashed their 25mm cannons on the building. Simultaneously, there was a lot of M16 and possibly .50-caliber fire targeted on the building. The Bradleys were firing, we confirmed later, high explosive rounds, not the depleted uranium they are notorious for. These guns, cannons essentially, are really fucking loud. If they're aimed at you, the sound alone must be terrifying. As they hit the building, flashes of light and clouds of dust rose out of the walls. I thought the building was going to go down, but it didn't. After a number of these volleys, the stone building caught fire and increasingly large flames shot up the sides.

As these assaults took place, foot soldiers advanced on the building. I could not see what they were doing, but I assume they used the cannons as cover fire to enter and sweep the building. There was some, but not a lot, of return fire, and we could hear what were probably Kalashnikov bullets whizzing down the street in front of us. I tried to stand behind good cover while still taking as many pictures as possible. Our cameraman, Garrett, and our translator/guide, a 25-year-old kid who was once drafted into Saddam's Fedayeen against his will, took great risk to advance upon the scene and film.

A good while after these assaults, and well after the building caught fire, several groups of civilians, looking absolutely terrified, ran from the building with their hands up. I would estimate there were at least 30 of them, and I have no idea how many didn't make it out.

At a certain point, the Americans seemed to decide that the situation was over and it all just petered out. I don't know about casualties. We saw one American soldier evacuated, and we heard his leg had been shot. The U.S. delayed his evacuation so that they could line up Bradleys in front of the photojournalists to prevent pictures from being taken of him. I hear the Americans don't even want to talk about the situation, and won't admit to any casualties. [Anita: Actually, the U.S. media is reporting one dead, one injured U.S. soldier.]

A young Iraqi guy who worked in the building was standing next to me on the sidewalk, and he broke down crying. I put my arm around him while he composed himself, and then he went off to try to fight the fire.

The driver of one of the Bradleys asked me to grab him a soft drink out of an abandoned sidewalk stand. It didn't seem like a good time to argue that stealing sodas was bad for winning hearts and minds, so I took out a drink, vainly looked for someone to pay, and gave it to the soldier. I asked him whether the Americans had been firing depleted uranium, but he didn't know what that was (even though it is the primary weapon of the vehicle he was driving). He told me to ask the gunner, who said they had been firing high explosive rounds, which comported with my observations, and the situation (DU would probably not be used to blow up a building).

As we left the scene, an old shopowner told us that he knew this was going happen at some point. The Americans it seemed, were always stopping here to buy porn DVDs, which they take back to their bases to watch on laptops. Even though Muslims don't like this, poverty is so bad that there is always someone willing to make the sale. These discs are sold in the open in front of women and children, and it makes the locals very angry. Whatever the propriety of porn, or Muslim conceptions of women and sex, I can't believe the Americans would be stupid enough to do this. Or maybe I can believe it.

We left, and returned to the scene a couple hours later. The Americans were gone (probably a good idea for their own self-preservation), and they had taken the Humvee skeleton with them. A big crowd was milling about, uniformly happy about the U.S. casualties and angry about the attack on their neighborhood. I don't understand Arabic, but I heard a lot of people, especially kids, enthusiastically saying, "Saddam."

Lots of young people were dancing on the ashen hole in the ground where the Humvee had been, and many young kids wanted me to take their picture holding pieces of U.S. debris. The word on the street was that someone had planted a remote-controlled bomb in the dirt in the median strip of the road, in a place the Americans routinely stopped. One man said the Humvee's gunner, standing out of the vehicle,s roof, had been cut in half, and the driver, standing nearby, had been vaporized. We also heard, variously, that two to four Iraqi civilians had been killed. I've never been to a place as rife with improbable rumors as Baghdad, so I have no idea whether any of this was true. I doubt however, that anyone would have detonated a bomb underneath an unoccupied Humvee.

Up to now, the Iraqis I have met on the street have been uniformly friendly and inviting. Here, it was different. People were angry, and we didn't belong here. Many people smiled and greeted us with "salaam" (peace), but others had angry looks on their faces and I wanted to get out of there. After one of my traveling companions finished talking to the people who lived next door to the building the US attacked (they said they hid in the basement and were angry that their house had been damaged), we took off. I will say that my guess is that if there had been large civilian casualties today, people would have been much angrier than they were, so perhaps it wasn't as bad as one might fear.

The past couple days had been pretty quiet in Baghdad, and the US, I think, was about to start talking about trends towards order. Today, with the Jordanian embassy bombing (there are rumors circulating that the Jordanians sent ambulances and surgeons to pick up their consul, who lost a leg or two, but I don't know if they're true) and the firefight, things aren't looking so good. We started the day by attending a demonstration by the unemployed workers, union, a front for the Workers' Communist Party (Trotskyists), but some of the only people doing secular organizing in the city. The group, about 150 strong, sat down in the street and blocked the entrance to the Republican Palace, the U.S. headquarters. The U.S. just ignored them until it petered out. Paul Bremer was supposed to give a press briefing today but it was, coincidentally, cancelled.

Tomorrow we're "embedding" with the Florida National Guard. After today, we're not too interested in riding around in Humvees, so we'll probably just hang out behind the wire and see what the troops have to say. We'll try to be careful.

Scott Fleming

Date posted: Aug 7, 2003


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Powerful bomb rips through the UN Headquarters in Iraq, Bush blames terrorists -- who will Americans blame?

By Stewart Nusbaumer

When a truck packed with explosives blew its deadly force onto the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, shearing off a side of the Canal Hotel, the President of the United States was on the 12th hole of a Texas golf course, and the Secretary General of the United Nations was on vacation in Denmark. Evidently, they can’t read the writing on the wall: the war in Iraq is not going well for them.

The media's talking heads, however, were not on vacation. They sprang right into action explaining why this horror happened: there were not enough guards at the U.N. building, there was not a vehicle registration process, there was too little U.S. military firepower at the site, there was too little surveillance of the area, the perimeter was not extended far enough, truncated landscaping (concrete barriers, trenches) was missing, ….

Not a single security "expert," however, not a single talking head on CNN or Fox or MSNBC, had the simple thought that the bombing happened because Iraq is occupied by the U.S. military and the U.N. is an instrument of this occupation. This was off their thought screen, or possibly only off what they can say when on the television screen.

“Terrorists,†President Bush announced, after a quick change of clothes. “Terrorists,†Attorney General pronounced. “Terrorists,†Vice President Cheney declared with an ugly hiss. “Terrorists,†“Terrorists,†“Terrorists†-- Administration spokespeople fanning out on the airwaves parroted.

Not “Freedom Fighters,†but “Terrorists.†If it had been the former Soviet Union that was occupying Iraq instead of the United States that is liberating Iraq, then the driver of that explosives-packed truck would have been a “Freedom Fighter†instead of a “terrorist.â€

Regardless, the dead are dead. Seventeen dead is the current number, with over a hundred wounded. Some of the latter will certainly join the former, the dead. It’s a horrible tragedy.

After every horrible tragedy, there comes the question: Why? Why did this happen? The Bush Administration’s answer is clear: blood thirsty killers, terrorists!

“Terrorists are testing our will,†the President insisted, looking vacation tan. His implicit message was obvious, yet hardly touched upon by the pundits. This act in Baghdad is part of a continuum starting at the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9-11 and traveling through the fighting in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq. It’s all one war, with one cause: terrorism.

“But our will cannot be shaken,†the President continued, glaring defiantly at the camera.

Of course our national will can be shaken. Determination is not some abstraction unrelated to facts and circumstances, national determination is not the product of a President's strong words and angry looks and macho gestures. Determination is closely related to cause, the stronger the cause, the more valid the cause, the stronger the determination.

We've lost our resolution in the past. A Republican President named Nixon left Vietnam without a victory, a Democrat President named Clinton yanked U.S. troops out of Somalia leaving the country in utter chaos, and another Republican President named Reagan hightailed out of Beirut after 251 Marines were slaughtered in a similar vehicle bombing. In all three cases, the determination of Americans was undermined by the realization that the human costs were too high for the policy goals. It just didn't make sense to Americans that young Americans should die for the government's stated purposes.

The cardinal lesson of Vietnam is that the U.S. military should never be committed unless the national security of the United States is clearly threatened and the American people strongly support the deployment of our troops. In Vietnam, this was not the case. In Beirut, this was not the case. In Somalia, this was not the case. And in Iraq, this is also not the case.

Th Bush Administration disagrees, they believe Iraq is worth Americans dying. Let's remember, however, than none of the Administration's primary men and women went to Vietnam (it's now clear that Colin Powell is not a major figure in this Administration), none have made significant sacrifices for a weak cause, an unjust cause, and none currently have children fighting in Iraq. They never paid the human cost and won't pay the cost in Iraq.

The Administration was ineffective in making the case that the despicable Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States, and regardless of the misuse of opinion polls, the public never strongly supported the invasion of Iraq and has been less supportive of the occupation. Nothing surprising about this.

Bush & Company have spent most of their lives sheltered by wealth and privilege, they have avoided the hard lumps of life in the school yard of ugly lessons. They have lived largely free from troubling ramifications and the hassles of life, since lowly assistants have quickly cleaned up their messes. They have been free from the fear of failure since powerful connections have insured their success even when they failed. George Bush and his primary advisors are a pampered, protected group. They just don't understand what is happening.

They were clueless that Iraqis would fight the U.S. military; they thought Iraqis' “will†would immediately collapse as the M-1 tanks rumbled through the streets of Baghdad. They were clueless that Iraqis would hold Americans responsible for their dysfunctional infrastructure; they thought U.S. companies would immediately breed happy consumers and economic game-players overnight. And they are clueless that Americans do not view their children as expendable except in the most urgent and threatening situations.

Protected and isolated, Bush & Company have constructed a fantasy that the Arab "street†is weak, pliable, easily broken in spirit and therefore easily led to the great fountain of material obsession. This is exactly how they see the American "street"-- you seen one hungry consumer, you've seen all hungry consumers. They know the American "street" about as well as they know the Arab "street."

If the guerrilla war in Iraq continues, and there is every indication it will, every indication it will become more bloody, then in time a massive political bomb will explode here. Americans will demand the withdraw of our military from Iraq because the costs are not worth the cause. Terrorism in Iraq is not terrorism in America, and the latter is all Americans are willing to give their young to stop.

Maybe this time Bush will not change from his golfing clothes but simply walk to the 13th hole. That's where he belongs, and what he truly knows, the golf "street."

Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine.

Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2003

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