The Back Story 

Liberation, occupation or hell?

Thursday, Apr 17 2003

“‘We need the American soldiers to guard what we have left. We need the Americans here. We need policemen.’ But all that the museum guard, Abdul-Setar Abdul-Jaber, experienced yesterday was gun battles between looters and local residents, the bullets hissing over our heads outside the museum and skittering up the walls of neighbouring apartment blocks . . . And what were the Americans doing as the new rulers of Baghdad? Why, yesterday morning they were recruiting Saddam Hussein’s hated former policemen to restore law and order on their behalf. The last army to do anything like this was Mountbatten’s force in Southeast Asia, which employed the defeated Japanese army to control the streets of Saigon with their bayonets fixed after the recapture of Indo-China in 1945.”

Robert Fisk on the ransacking and destruction of Iraq’s National Archaeological Museum. From the Independent.

“Deeply concerned over the anarchic turn of events in Iraq, Amnesty International charged the U.S.-led forces on Tuesday with being more concerned about Iraqi oil wells than the Iraqi people. ‘There seems to have been more preparation to protect the oil wells than to protect hospitals, water systems or civilians,’ lamented Irene Khan, the secretary-general of the international human-rights group [Amnesty International] in what is the strongest indictment of the U.S. and its allies to date for their inability to restore normalcy in Iraq since they ousted the government of Saddam Hussein.”

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The antiquities are crunching under journalists’ feet, but the oil wells are safe. From Al-Jazeera’s temporary English-language Web site.

“There are many ironies to the multidecked ‘get Al-Jazeera’ campaign; one attack suppressed the site with the slogan ‘Let Freedom Ring!’ (only up to a point, presumably), while practically none of those busily denying themselves the right to access it can have had time to read it in the first place. So at this point it’s worth trying to put a little perspective on the network’s offering, and consider what it is that it has done that is so bad that Tony Blair spinmeister in chief Alastair Campbell has described its offer as ‘complete fiction.’”

Hacked, dumped and hijacked: Why is an Al-Jazeera Web presence in English so scary that nobody wants to host its site? From The Register.

“MediaGuardian.co.uk has learned that Sony wants to launch a computer game called Shock and Awe, having filed an application to register the defining phrase of the coalition’s military campaign as a trademark in the U.S. . . . Other goods planned for sale in the U.S. include an Axis of Evil board game, ‘Iraqi Freedom’ crockery and clothes as well as ‘Shock and Awe’ trainers and dolls.”

Sony plans to repackage the worst day — and the most horrific phrase — of the war on Iraq as a game.

“This war was not worth one child’s finger.”

—Julian Barnes

The antidote to war games: America’s most wanted, from George Bush to George Will, on a complete set of playing cards.

Reach the writer at judith.lewis@laweekly.com

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