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Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Alas, Mr Sanctimonious Blair's love affair with Mr Illiterate Bush is already leaving some ugly morning stains on the bedspread.

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November 16, 2004 (Tuesday)
London (England)

HOW unfortunate. Only last night we witnessed the Dickensian spectacle of a frock-coated Mr Sanctimonious Blair attending a Guildhall banquet with his smirking foreign secretary Mr Lugubrious Straw; Britain's much-loved Socialist and wartime prime minister was delivering a speech promising that he and his sturdy friends in Washington DC were going to bring democracy to the world, starting with the Middle East.

Two days ago we saw the same Mr Blair grandstanding in a pulpit in Liverpool, shamelessly attending a memorial service for Ken Bigley, recently beheaded in Iraq; he read the Lesson, ending with the line, "and now remain these three, Faith, Hope, and Love" -- I always preferred the reading, Charity -- "but the greatest of these is Love."

Alas, Mr Blair's love affair with Mr Illiterate Bush is already leaving some ugly morning stains on the bedspread. This morning British television news reports and newspapers are full of an NBC newsreel clip from the fighting in Falluja, first broadcast yesterday. It shows two or more US Marines, -- they are seen entering a mosque, the floor littered with debris, and finding three men propped up, bleeding against a wall, having been shot the day before and left untended -- a brutality which is itself a crime in war. One, an Arab with a pink headdress, evidently between sixty and seventy years old, is still alive, but probably dying; a third, who somehow survives, and may become a witness, is covered with rags some feet away.

Perhaps they had sought refuge in the mosque; this seems no less likely than that they were fighters, "insurgents," or "terrorists," with which concepts the American invaders comfort themselves as they kill. A dead man lies next to the old man propped against the wall, his arm draped pathetically across him for comfort. Perhaps father and son? The old man raises one arm weakly in a gesture of surrender (perhaps the other arm is shot to pieces).

A gallant Marine calls out that these are "wounded men" here, and yes, still alive; he walks purposefully to within six feet of the old man and blasts that wise old head apart with a round from his automatic rifle; the head explodes -- an image so grisly that it is pixelled out on British television. I wonder if it is even seen by American viewers back home.


WE can remember with a certain Schadenfreude with what pomp and circumstance the ineffable Mr Paul Bremer announced that thanks to the liberation from Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship, the people's biggest trade now, in post "mission-accomplished" Iraq, was in television receivers and satellite dishes.

Now those dishes are bringing to the Iraqi natives the ghastly images of what their liberators are up to. How dearly their Quisling, their puppet prime minister Iyad Allawai, must wish those dishes away! He must quake for his own security at each image of a heavily armed American plainsman killing yet another elderly and defenseless Muslim.

Was this latest outrage an isolated television episode? Well almost, because the American military commanders have restricted media coverage. If it were not for the Internet, we would probably not even be seeing this.

  • Thanks to the Internet we have seen the helicopter gunships in Iraq and Afghanistan mowing down at long range civilians possibly, but not obviously, going about felonious tasks in their fields and prairies.
  • American forces have shot up wedding parties in remote Afghan villages, and have later claimed that the wedding parties "fired on" them -- meaning, with their ancient flintlocks, on the US airforce's AC130 Specter gunships, circling thousands of feet overhead; to conceal the truth, the ground commanders have then sent in troops to remove every piece of hardware and shell fragment from the shattered village.
  • We have also seen the gallant American raid on an Iraqi settlement near the Syrian border -- another wedding party; if it were not for the typical wedding videos taken before the raid, and the rather less typical ones taken afterwards by the few surviving guests, showing the pianist in his coffin and other wedding guests in similar accommodation, we would never have known of this atrocity.

"How many prisoners were taken during the raid?" one female BBC interviewer guilelessly asked the American spokesman, and got no answer other than that a "full investigation" would take place. If it did, its results have not been published, and there is unlikely to be any prosecution of the guilty commanders.

The excuse: the Americans have had to raid such tiny settlements, and cities like Falluja and Mosul, to rid them of foreign militias and fighters. What are the US Marines, if not foreign militias and fighters?


THE cynic in me, the real-historian, says: If this is what is seen on newsreels, we can only speculate, and shudder, at what is going on off-camera. How many prisoners are the Marines taking? Any at all? Or has some high commander, like General George S Patton Jr before HUSKY, the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, told his men in a pre-battle harangue that prisoners are a hindrance to forward movement and that they should avoid taking along such a burden in battle. Hundreds of German and Italian prisoners were led away and liquidated.

Times however have changed: when word of Patton's speech reached higher commands early in 1944, he was summoned to London from his headquarters at Knutsford, Cheshire, for a very uncomfortable confrontation with General Dwight D Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, and very nearly stripped of his rank and sent home as a punishment.

Eisenhower was a chivalrous supreme commander, cast in the Erwin Rommel mould. He even sent a formal message of apology through Switzerland to the German High Command, the OKW, in March 1945 when a trainload of nine hundred German prisoners of war was suffocated to death in a railroad sidings at Frankfurt. (I found the details in his papers in Abilene, Kansas.)

Not so the modern Pentagon. This morning American damage-control is in action. A gnarled Marine lieutenant general, John F Sattler, in suitably grimy battledress, stands before a teleprompter and haltingly reads a message asserting that all US troops are aware of military law, and promising an investigation.

An investigation was already promised yesterday into a similar incident where Marines were filmed in an alleyway, having seen an injured man fall off a roof. A Marine clambers up on a wall, calls out that the man is lying injured on the ground, and aims his rifle at him. Peng, as the Germans would say. "He's gone," he calls out nonchalantly as he clambers down: and he doesn't mean, got away. The TV camera recorded it all. Shooting an injured man, who is hors de combat, is just not de rigueur in war. It is what people were hanged for at Nuremberg, Landsberg, and Hamelin after the Second World War.

It is banned by the Geneval Convention, of which Mr Bush's new attorney general Alberto Gonzales recently spoke so dismissively. (He called Geneva quaint.)

Gonzales is the former White House "legal counsel" who earlier this year asked the Pentagon for legal advice on how far US army interrogators could go in torturing prisoners and get away with it under US law. Anthony Biddle and those other famous US attorney-generals who do not share a common background with the mafia-gangsters and druglords of South America must be turning in their graves at this new appointment.


IT was not for nothing that even Winston Churchill, one of Britain's leading Gentile Zionists, as he confessed himself, turned a deaf ear on the demands of Chaim Weizmann and the others pleading the Jewish cause during his war.

Churchill was a Zionist, but a pragmatist too: he weighed the merits of the few million surviving Jews on the one hand, and the vast multitudes of two hundred million or more Muslims on the other, and he saw writing dimly appearing on the wall each time that Weizmann came knocking on the door of No. 10.

Bush and his satraps have chosen so far to ignore it. They have passed special laws protecting their troops from prosecution for committing war crimes; they have proclaimed themselves, formally, above and beyond International Law; they have refused to ratify the laws setting up the International War Crimes Tribunal.

To the illiterates, the writing may look like graffiti right now, but with each fresh atrocity mirrored on the television screens, and brought to the Arab world through those helpful satellite dishes, the message will become ever clearer.


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