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Robert Fisk on the bombing of Iraq: Locked in an Orwellian EternalWar


The Independent 
18 February 2001
Locked in an Orwellian Eternal War
By Robert Fisk 

In George Orwell's 1984, Oceania -- in which Britain is "Airstrip
One"  -- is engaged in eternal war with Eastasia. Victories are
constantly announced by the British government. Our battle with
Eastasia, over the years, has become routine. In George Bush's
2001, the West is engaged in eternal war with Iraq. The
"degrading" of Iraq's forces is constantly announced by the
American and British governments. And on Friday, the mission of
the planes, which have been bombing Iraq for 10 years, was
officially announced by the American President as "routine".

As in 1984, the characters in 2001 do not change. In 1991, defence
secretary Dick Cheney and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff
Colin Powell were urging the bombers on to Baghdad with the
backing of President George Bush. In 2001, Vice President Dick
Cheney and secretary of state Colin Powell are urging the bombers
on to Baghdad with the backing of President George Bush Jr. In
1991, the Beast of Baghdad was Saddam Hussein. In 2001, the Beast
of Baghdad is Saddam Hussein.

And woe betide us if we feel like Winston Smith, eternally feeding
old newspaper cuttings into the oven. Bin those clippings about
how we "defanged" Saddam in 1991. Forget the UN arms inspectors
who would eliminate forever Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction".
Make no complaint about the half-million Iraqi children who have
died under UN sanctions.  Destroy all reference to the New World

We are engaging -- an Orwellian cracker this, from the Pentagon on
Friday night -- in "protective retaliation". And by yesterday
morning, a military "expert" was on our very own BBC -- its
defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, no less -- to announce
that Iraq had acquired 30 surface-to-air missiles from Serbia and
Ukraine to boost its military might. Really? Is this true? We in
the West impose sanctions on Iraq so strict that we prevent the
import of lead for schoolchildren's pencils lest it be put to
military use; yet we cannot stop the Iraqis lugging anti-aircraft
missiles over their border. 

When we started bombing in the no-fly-zones in the aftermath of
the Gulf War 10 years ago, we did so in retaliation because the
Iraqis shot at our planes, just as we supposedly did this weekend.
When we fired 200 cruise missiles into Iraq just over two years
ago, President Clinton -- a brief interlude in the war between the
Saddam and Bush families -- told us that Saddam has "disarmed the
(UN) inspectors".  Tony Blair, agonising about the lives of
British forces involved (all 14 pilots) told us -- a real Orwell
masterpiece -- "we must act because we must". 

So what Newspeak do our masters produce for us this weekend? Why,
our own Foreign Secretary Robin Cook tells us that Saddam -- not
sanctions -- are to blame for all those Iraqi deaths. It was the
same Mr Cook who has repeatedly and truthfully told us during this
eternal war that Saddam has used gas "against his own people"  --
without mentioning the other truth: that he did so during an
aggressive war with Iran in which we enthusiastically supported
Saddam. So tell Winston Smith to burn all articles about a village
called Halabja if they inconveniently mention Iran. Iraq's state
television yesterday announces "an attack by American aggressors".
The forces of Oceania, it seems, killed a woman and wounded 11
civilians in the Eastasian capital of Baghdad. Oceania insists the
attacks were aimed at "sites well away from civilian areas". The
planes were "well within the 33rd parallel"  -- the limit of the
self-appointed Oceanian no-fly zones -- and used "standoff" 
missiles to hit their targets.

When President Clinton faced the worst of the Lewinsky scandal, 
he bombed Afghanistan and Sudan. When he faced impeachment in 1998,
he bombed Iraq..  Faced with an explosion between Israelis and
Palestinians, George Bush Jr bombs -- why, Baghdad. And still Mr
Cook tells the Iraqi people Saddam is their "problem". Note to
Winston Smith: burn at once all references to George Bush Sr's
1991 call to the people of Iraq to overthrow Saddam and his
subsequent willingness to let Saddam massacre the lot. 

Then there's that $29m aid package about to be handed over by
Washington to the so-called opposition "Iraqi National Congress".
Note to Winston Smith:  place into the incinerator all newspaper
reports about the Jordanian conviction for massive fraud of one of
the INC's most prominent leaders. Let's keep it simple: Down with
the brutal regime of Eastasia!  Long live Oceania! 

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