April 21, 2004


Get Out Now
(John Pilger, New Statesman, 19/04/04)

Four years ago, I travelled the length of Iraq, from the hills where St Matthew is buried in the Kurdish north to the heartland of Mesopotamia, and Baghdad, and the Shia south. I have seldom felt as safe in any country. Once, in the Edwardian colonnade of Baghdad's book market, a young man shouted something at me about the hardship his family had been forced to endure under the embargo imposed by America and Britain. What happened next was typical of Iraqis; a passer-by calmed the man, putting his arm around his shoulder, while another was quickly at my side. "Forgive him," he said reassuringly. "We do not connect the people of the west with the actions of their governments. You are welcome."

At one of the melancholy evening auctions where Iraqis come to sell their most intimate possessions out of urgent need, a woman with two infants watched as their pushchairs went for pennies, and a man who had collected doves since he was 15 came with his last bird and its cage; and yet people said to me: "You are welcome." Such grace and dignity were often expressed by those Iraqi exiles who loathed Saddam Hussein and opposed both the economic siege and the Anglo-American assault on their homeland; thousands of these anti-Saddamites marched against the war in London last year, to the chagrin of the warmongers, who never understood the dichotomy of their principled stand.

Were I to undertake the same journey in Iraq today, I might not return alive. Foreign terrorists have ensured that. With the most lethal weapons that billions of dollars can buy, and the threats of their cowboy generals and the panic-stricken brutality of their foot soldiers, more than 120,000 of these invaders have ripped up the fabric of a nation that survived the years of Saddam Hussein, just as they oversaw the destruction of its artefacts. They have brought to Iraq a daily, murderous violence which surpasses that of a tyrant who never promised a fake democracy...

Even now, as the uprising spreads, there is only cryptic gesturing at the obvious: that this is a war of national liberation and that the enemy is "us".

Wow. He sold his last dove just before the foreign terrorists invaded. Top that, Jane Fonda!

Posted by Peter Burnet at April 21, 2004 10:01 PM

"I have seldom felt as safe in any country." Sure, Saddam's Iraq was extremely safe for Euroleftists who could come and go as they pleased. How safe was it those who actually had to live under Saddam's boot, always fearing that if they said something that could be construed as anti-Saddam, a painful death would follow? How safe was it for members of various Iraqi sports teams who would be beaten bloody if they or their team lost? How safe was it for anyone who dared lift his head and complain?

Pilger is an appalling human being who does not realize that but for the accident of his birth in a country other than Iraq or (fill in your favorite totalitarian, murderous dictatorship), he too would have been subject to the whims of a sadistic, murderous, and fascist Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: Morrie at April 21, 2004 10:43 PM

John Pilger is right down there at the bottom with Robert Fisk as "reporters" whose articles are nothing but bilge. Tim Blair has been on Pilger's case for years.

Posted by: Joe at April 22, 2004 5:23 AM

For a moment there I thought that his denunciation of the "foreign terrorists" actually referred to terrorists. Alas, it referred to American soldiers.

Posted by: Paul Cella at April 22, 2004 7:22 AM

Pilger: WAFI*

*What A F[awful]ing Idiot

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at April 22, 2004 7:37 AM