June 1, 2006

What I Heard About Iraq

by Eliot Weinberger (excerpts only)

In 1992, a year after the first Gulf War, I heard Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad and get ‘bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq’. I heard him say: ‘The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: not that damned many.’

In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein ‘has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.’

That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: ‘We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programmes.’

In July 2001, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.’

On 11 September 2001, six hours after the attacks, I heard that Donald Rumsfeld said that it might be an opportunity to ‘hit’ Iraq. I heard that he said: ‘Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.’

I heard that Condoleezza Rice asked: ‘How do you capitalise on these opportunities?’

I heard that on 17 September the president signed a document marked top secret that directed the Pentagon to begin planning for the invasion and that, some months later, he secretly and illegally diverted $700 million approved by Congress for operations in Afghanistan into preparing for the new battle front.


I heard the vice president say that the war would be over in ‘weeks rather than months’.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say there was ‘no question’ that American troops would be ‘welcomed’: ‘Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and al-Qaida would not let them do.’

I heard the vice president say: ‘The Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation the streets in Basra and Baghdad are “sure to erupt in joy”. Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.’

I heard the vice president say: ‘I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators.’
I heard about Hashim, a fat, ‘painfully shy’ 15-year-old, who liked to sit for hours by the river with his birdcage, and who was shot by the 4th Infantry Division in a raid on his village. Asked about the details of the boy’s death, the division commander said: ‘That person was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

I heard Private Jessica Lynch say: ‘They used me as a way to symbolise all this stuff. It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about.’ Of the stories that she had bravely fought off her captors, and suffered bullet and stab wounds, I heard her say: ‘I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do.’ Of her dramatic ‘rescue’, I heard her say: ‘I don’t think it happened quite like that.’

I heard the Red Cross say that casualties in Baghdad were so high that the hospitals had stopped counting.

I heard an old man say, after 11 members of his family – children and grandchildren – were killed when a tank blew up their minivan: ‘Our home is an empty place. We who are left are like wild animals. All we can do is cry out.’


I heard Colin Powell say: ‘I’m absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We’re just getting it now.’

I heard the president say: ‘We’ll find them. It’ll be a matter of time to do so.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and east, west, south and north, somewhat.’

I heard Richard Perle tell Americans to ‘relax and celebrate victory’. I heard him say: ‘The
predictions of those who opposed this war can be discarded like spent cartridges.’

I heard Richard Perle say: ‘Next year at about this time, I expect there will be a really thriving trade in the region, and we will see rapid economic development. And a year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad named after President Bush.’

I heard the president say: ‘I know what I’m doing when it comes to winning this war.’

I heard the president say: ‘I’m a war president.’


I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘I don’t believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘The Coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light, through the prism of our experience on 9/11.’

I heard a reporter say to Donald Rumsfeld: ‘Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said they would welcome us with open arms.’ And I heard Rumsfeld interrupt him: ‘Never said that. Never did. You may remember it well, but you’re thinking of somebody else. You can’t find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said.’


I heard the president say: ‘I want to be the peace president. The next four years will be peaceful years.’

I heard the president say: ‘For a while we were marching to war. Now we’re marching to peace.’

I heard that the US military had purchased 1,500,000,000 bullets for use in the coming year. That is 58 bullets for every Iraqi adult and child.

What I Heard About Iraq first appeared in the London Review of Books in 2005 and was later published into a small book by Verso. Click here to read the full text.

[picture #2: An Iraqi boy cries as he waits outside Baghdad's al-Yarmouk hospital June 1, 2006. Two of his brothers were shot by unknown gunmen - killing one and seriously wounding the second. REUTERS/Ali Jasim. picture #3: An Iraqi woman mourns as she waits outside Baghdad's al-Yarmouk hospital June 1, 2006. Two relatives were shot by unknown gunmen, killing one and seriously wounding the second. REUTERS/Ali Jasim. picture #4: Relatives mourn their dead outside a morgue in Baqouba, Iraq Thursday, June 1, 2006, after gunmen ambushed a minibus in the town killing at least five people and wounding three on Wednesday. A pregnant woman was shot dead at a US checkpoint in Iraq while on her way to give birth, officials said, sparking further controversy amid a furor over an alleged marines shooting rampage.(AP Photo/Mohammed Adnan).]

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At 2:08 PM, Blogger kilamxx said...

Yes we all heard them.
All the double speak and hypocrisy
from Bush and his butchers.

What about you, Americans?
Why is Bush still your president?

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Christopher Brown said...

I heard Bush was a dimwit.

I heard Rumsfeld was a liar.

I heard Rice and Powell were nothing more than house Negros and lapdogs for the empire.

I heard Bush say: "Mission Acomplished."

I heard of the massacre at Haditha back in December in the alternative media.

I heard the US is trying to promote its Neo-Con agenda all over the World.

I heard I was right on all the points above.


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