Iraq’s Torment: A Letter to George W. Bush

A message to the ex-president.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Dear George W. Bush,

I will never forget this sequence of days – March 19-21, 2003. It was on these days that you decided to send in your armies to destroy an Iraq already on life-support thanks to the sanctions regime and to the massive bombardment of the Gulf War 1 pushed by your dad, and then the man who followed him - Big Bill Clinton. Your bombers and cruise missiles hit Baghdad two thousand times on March 21. Hospitals later said that the injured came at a rate of over a hundred an hour. Untold numbers of people died on that day, as Baghdad rattled from the Bab al-Moatham, with its great institutions of learning, to the quiet residential streets of al-Saydiya. The ground shook beneath the feet of the city’s people, as bombs fell from the sky like hail. In the three weeks of this bombing campaign, your aircraft dropped more cluster bombs than it did in six months of the bombing in Afghanistan. Testimony from such deeply committed people as Dr. Sa’ad al-Falluji of al-Hilla General Teaching Hospital and Dr. Ali ‘Abd al-Sayyid of the al-Nasiriyya General Hospital should have been aired on American television. Instead, we got insensitive anchors reveling in the joys of Shock and Awe.

Fragile Iraq was destroyed in 2003. I remember the Iraqi people who suffered the bombardment and then the occupation - the families in Baghdad, the farmers in rural Diyala, the old lefties hiding as they had already hidden in one or another friend's house. These are the Iraqi people, President Bush, that you claimed to speak for but did not care about. You should have talked to Yanar Mohammed, an architect, who founded the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Committee for the Defense of Iraqi Women’s Rights. She would have told you that the “US occupation turned the streets of Iraq into a ‘no-women zone.’” You should have talked to Falah Alwan, the leader of the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq. Alwan, who had worked clandestinely against the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein for years, said that your Occupation “devastated the fundamental basis of Iraqi industries and infrastructure.” But you didn’t. You broke the country and allowed it to be plundered.

There is spiritual decadence in the prosecution of that war, and in the toxicity that it has spawned inside the United States. Iraq was a courteous civilization, now so grievously injured by your injuries.

Yours etc.,
Vijay Prashad.

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Vijay Prashad is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is also the author of Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017) and The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016), among other books.