Well, no longer wondering about Robert Fisk's reaction to the fall of Baghdad. He's filed with the Independent, and he.is.pissed. And still a self righteous twit. So, now, he's a pissed and fuming self righteous twit. So, all in all, I guess the non-Battle for Baghdad didn't really change things too much. Of course, its a predictable Fiskian blending of the horror, the humanity, the arrogance, and the looting. Oh, the horrid, horrid looting.
The Americans may think they have "liberated" Baghdad but the tens of thousands of thieves – they came in families and cruised the city in trucks and cars searching for booty – seem to have a different idea what liberation means.
In all of the anarchy, is there no one to stand up and defend common human decency and dignity? You bet! Our man Robert to the rescue!
It was the day of the looter. They trashed the German embassy and hurled the ambassador's desk into the yard. I rescued the European Union flag – flung into a puddle of water outside the visa section [emphasis added -Ed] – as a mob of middle-aged men, women in chadors and screaming children rifled through the consul's office and hurled Mozart records and German history books from an upper window.
Viva la EU and shades of Captain Euro! But, oh, those unruly, bloody screaming children. Like nails upon a chalkboard to our stalwart Fisk, I'm sure. But were they really that unruly and screaming? Was it truly the scene of the absurd that he observed? This passage is a bit more telling
But there seemed to be a kind of looter's law. Once a thief had placed his hand on a chair or a chandelier or a door-frame, it belonged to him. I saw no arguments, no fist-fights. The dozens of thieves in the German embassy worked in silence, assisted by an army of small children. Wives pointed out the furnishings they wanted, husbands carried them down the stairs while children were used to unscrew door hinges and – in the UN offices – to remove light fittings. One even stood on the ambassador's desk to take a light bulb from its socket in the ceiling.
And this, could it be a realization that the deposed Iraqi thugs might not be worthy of Fisk's efforts to defend? Was it the tales of people fed into plastic shredders? Was it the discovery of a 'children's prison? Nay, a far graver offense in the mind of Fisk, I'll wager, such as came bubbling forth in his first indications doubt towards his beloved Iraqi underdogs
It also provided a glimpse of the shocking taste in furnishings that senior Baath party members obviously aspired to; cheap pink sofas and richly embroidered chairs, plastic drinks trolleys and priceless Iranian carpets so heavy it took three muscular thieves to carry them.
Oh, the final betrayal....bad taste in furniture. Absolutely inexcusable. Well, enough about that, not nearly enough reason to stop bashing the Yanks, now is it? After referring to the takedown of the Saddam statue in Firdos Square as
the most staged photo-opportunity since Iwo Jima
Fisk winds up his column with the following clueless indictment, displaying his total lack of concern for, or understanding of, military procedures and operations
And already America's army of "liberation" is beginning to seem an army of occupation. I watched hundreds of Iraqi civilians queuing to cross a motorway bridge at Daura yesterday morning, each man ordered by US soldiers to raise his shirt and lower his trousers – in front of other civilians, including women – to prove they were not suicide bombers.
After a gun battle in the Adamiya area during the morning, an American Marine sniper sitting atop the palace gate wounded three civilians, including a little girl, in a car that failed to halt – then shot and killed a man who had walked on to his balcony to discover the source of the firing. Within minutes, the sniper also shot dead the driver of another car and wounded two more passengers in that vehicle, including a young woman. A crew from Channel 4 Television was present when the killings took place.
Meanwhile, in the suburb of Daura, bodies of Iraqi civilians – many of them killed by US troops in battle earlier in the week – lay rotting in their still-smouldering cars. And yesterday was just Day Two of the "liberation" of Baghdad.
Hmm, lets see - people shot up in cars that failed to obey commands to stop at military checkpoints, in the midst of a city where the biggest current threat is suicide bombers. Men being asked to lift their shirts to check for explosives, again, in a city where the biggest current threat is (help me out here) suicide bombers. And bodies in civilian clothes, at the site of battles from earlier in the week, when the US troops were assailed repeatedly by Fehdayeen suicide squads in civilian clothing...imagine that. He also fails to make the connection here, as well
And what is one to make of the scene on the Hillah road yesterday where I found the owner of a grain silo and factory ordering his armed guards to fire on the looters who were trying to steal his lorries. This desperate and armed attempt to preserve the very basis of Baghdad's bread supply was being observed from just 100 metres away by eight soldiers of the US 3rd Infantry Division, who were sitting on their tanks – doing nothing.
Key phrase - doing nothing. Not taking the weapons away from Iraqis protecting their private property, despite the presence of snipers taking potshots at them. But, of course, this aspect either fails to register, or is simply discarded as irrelevant. He doesn't mention any of the trucks actually being successfully stolen. Quite probable they weren't, as the Iraqis appear to understand the line between government and private property, and by most accounts, including Fisk's, appear to be respecting it for the time being. Oh, and let it not be said that Robert didn't engage in a bit of gratuitous hand-wringing during the exercise. He is, after all, a professional, consummate journalist
Every government ministry in the city has now been denuded of its files, computers, reference books, furnishings and cars. To all this, the Americans have turned a blind eye, indeed stated specifically that they had no intention of preventing the "liberation" of this property. One can hardly be moralistic about the spoils of Saddam's henchmen but how is the government of America's so-called "New Iraq" supposed to operate now that the state's property has been so comprehensively looted?
Odd basis for worry. Seems the best thing that could be done at this point is to start with a completely blank slate. Fisk himself said the previous regime's taste in furniture was atrocious, the 'equipment' for the offices, well, probably safe to say that after 12 years, they could probably use some new computers. As for the stuff out of the UN and Euro offices, well, that can be entered on the ledger as the initial aid package for the re-building of Iraq.
At least no one dis-assembled his car on him this time. Sounds like he's ahead of the game.