PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Admitting, "leaders" of the disastrous war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan would have to be "brain dead" not to learn lessons from the "thousands" of "tactical errors" made there, U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice gave no hint of a how the lessons learned so far would alter Anglo-American policy.
Protest By All Means, (But We Still Won't Listen)
- Condi Rice to U.K. Demonstrators
C. L. Cook
April 1st, 2006
Dismissing British anti-war sentiments, expressed by thousands on every leg of Conoleezza Rice's U.K. tour, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says he could have organized more impressive demos than those dogging the visit.
Speaking to reporters, Straw sniffed;
"They said they were going to get busloads and busloads in. If they had asked me I could have done better."
Displaying his famous cerebral acuity, the Minister went on to belie the Blackburn protest, saying the large numbers in the crowd were actually made up largely of supporters, the good folk out to shower conquering Condi with laurels and fond wishes, saying;
"It [the placard waving throng demonstrating against the wars] does show the strength of positive feeling across the [Britain's] North West and support for this visit."
Rice picked up on Straw's upbeat assessment, saying she had enjoyed the "warm reception" she'd received in Britain, and lauding the merit of a democracy that allows protests of this kind;
"When there are more places where people's voices can be heard peacefully, especially in the Middle East, we are all going to be better off."
Whether merely forgetful, or perhaps experiencing some of the aforementioned "brain death," Miss Rice failed to acknowledge just such a place in the Middle East, where peaceful protesters gathered to have their voices heard by America's legions.
Three years ago this month, more than 200 of "the people" of an obscure town in Iraq marched through the streets to protest the military occupation of a local primary school. The citizens of Fallujah were upset that their kid's eviction from the school would mean missing their lessons. This was just more than a month after the commencement of 'Operation Iraq Liberation,' before George W. Bush's famous "Mission Accomplished" declaration; before Abu Ghraib; before the death squads; before the car bombs; before a quarter of a million Iraqis had been snuffed out by the occupation; before 2500 Americans made the trip home in "transit tubes."
On that Spring day, the marchers still held out hope the invasion was, as stated then, and reiterated yesterday by Condoleezza Rice, meant to remove the tyrannical Saddam Hussein, and bring freedom and democracy to the people. Those naive natives believed then, America had their best interests at heart.
They were wrong.
American Marines opened fire on the demonstration, killing thirteen outright, and wounding more than 75 others.
Since then, Fallujah has suffered two major American "operations," operations that included the aerial bombardment and artillery shelling of the civilian population, and ruthless sniper attacks, followed by the tanks and infantry. Those killed were largely not, as the generals said, "pockets of insurgents," or "foreign fighters," but the poorest and most infirm of the populace, those that hadn't the wherewithal to evacuate the doomed city when warned of the impending disaster.
In the second assault on the city, Fallujah would face another weapon in America's arsenal, the so-called "Whiskey Pete," grunt-speak for White Phosphorus. Intrepid American freelance journalist, Dahr Jamail visited Fallujah after the WP attack, and reported here about its effects. It's not an account for weak-stomachs.
How much Condi and Jack have learned from their "thousands" of errors is difficult to discern, judging by their estimable performance yesterday. Before a gathering of the like-minded at Chatham House, a British "think tank," Rice leaves us with this assessment;
"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure, but when you look back in history, what will be judged will be, did you make the right strategic decisions."
Who benefits those "strategic decisions" is left unsaid, but there can be few left alive today in Iraq that would mistake, as those hapless souls in Fallujah did three years ago, America's good intentions, and dare take to the streets in protest. But, for those enjoying a democracy not under the boot of military occupation, Condi instructs;
"People have the right to protest, that's what democracy is all about. I would say to those who wish to protest, by all means."
Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and host of Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.
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