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[casi] Collateral damage

Spokesman magazine (Bertrand Russell Foundation) 'The War or Terror Runs
Amok', June and Morning Star 8th July, hope this not double posting, if so,
apols, f.

Felicity Arbuthnot spells out what the bombing of Iraq really means:


Luay was ten years old when he found the head, during the Gulf war. He told
his story to Professor Magne Raundalen, founder of the Center for Crisis
Studies, in Bergen, Norway and one of the world¹s formost experts on the
trauma of children in war.

Luay had joined a Œneighbourhood watch¹ scheme - groups who tried to rescue
people from bombed buildings. Since he was small, he could reach places that
others could¹nt. Crawling into one building, he told Raundalen, he had found
the body of Œa mother.¹ Crawling further on, he found the body of her baby.
He described how he had crawled back through the rubble and placed the baby
on the mother¹s breast and wrapped her still warm arms round him. ³That is
your worst memory?¹ asked Raundalen; no his: Œworst memory was the head.¹
Crawling back, he had found a jacket, and under it was a head. He dreamed
every night that he was taking the head from his jacket pocket and handing
it to the rescuers to try and identify it for a bereaved family and a
dignified burial.

In surveys, Raundelen found that up to eighty percent of children felt they
would not live to grow up and he found, in Iraq: Œthe most traumatised child
population¹ he had ever encountered.

Luay will now be twenty two - if he has not become one of the up to eleven
thousand a month who die of Œembargo related causes.¹ Five to six thousand
of those are under five. If he has survived the grinding misery of the most
draconian siege ever administered by the United Nations, he will now be
conscripted into Iraq¹s decimated army and probably end his lost youth as
cannon fodder for a smart or truly dumb missile.

On one visit to Iraq, I asked young, at random, from all backgrounds, of
their hopes dreams and fears. None had a dream. ŒI am too tired to dream¹,
said an eighteen year old who had dreamed of being a doctor. He was working
in a smelt, to support his family, in the searing heat of Baghdad, as it
paid pitifully - but realtively well in a land where a kilo of meat - due to
stratospheric inflation - at that time, exceeded a university Professor¹s
monthly salary. A young woman dreamed: Œof having enough milk for my baby.¹
Another waited till her mother left the room and whispered: Œnothing awaits
us, only death.¹ She was eighteen.

Forgotten to are the numerous bombings by Britian and the US - unsanctioned
by the UN and the trauma they continue to heap on this shattered, damaged
youth, in the land where Abraham was born at Ur, which brought the world
writing, mathematics, algebra, record keeping and the first domestic laws
were written before the birth of Christ. Where the Garden of Eden flourished
and the site of the hanging gardens of Babylon can still be visited.

A friend, who arranged for all the neighbourhood children to come to his
house when there was a bombing, in peer support, hesitated, before saying:
ŒI hope you won¹t be offended, when I tell you that, when the bombing stops,
we are left, in the dark, surrounded by pools of urine and faeces, from the
terror of the children.¹ In the lie-speak of the Ministry of Defence and the
Pentagon, like Luay¹s head: Œcollateral damage.¹

In February 1998, when the world was certain Iraq was going to be bombed
again, I was in Baghdad and went to visit a woman with another tragic tale
to tell. Like many, she had sold all her furniture to survive. As we talked
in her large, bare room, it began to fill with children - a stranger in this
isolated land is a rare treat. They sat, perhaps fifty in all, aged between
perhaps three and thirteen, quiet as mice, watching every move of my pen.

When I got up to leave, dusk was falling and they followed me out and as I
got into the battered car, they surrounded it, laughing, waving and blowing
kisses, as we moved off, they ran beside us, still laughing, smiling and
blowing kisses. When we were moving to fast I looked back and they were
standing in a knot in the road, still, laughing and blowing kisses. It was
the darkest night, the night all the military experts said Iraq would be
bombed again. I went back to my hotel, lay on the bed and wept.

 Public opinion prevented the February bombing. Instead, in December Prime
Minister Blair stood in front of his resplendent Christmas tree and
announced we were bombing (in time for Christmas and Ramadan.)

If this illegal, immoral, tragi -ridiculous Œwar on terrorism¹ continues,
not alone the Middle East, but most of the world will erupt; we are truly
looking into the abyss. That ;¹history will slaughter those responsible¹ to
quote distinguished former UN Under Secretary General, Denis Halliday, will
be of no comfort to the traumatised children of Iraq, Palestine , Afganistan
and where ever else this feckless, reckless policy leads.

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