War’s Wraths and Devastations
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
March 9, 2003
The mounting oppositions, the growing concerns and voices against the looming war and its calamitous ferocity that will surely kill thousands and thousands of innocent civilians and somebody’s father or mother or brother or sister will be in the zone of danger while fulfilling their superior’s orders in military combat situation wearing American, British or Iraqi uniform, seem to have no apparent effect on Bush’s obsession with Saddam and war.
Real people get killed in the real war. Real widows mourn for their flag wrapped buried husband, and someone’s six-year-old son drops the very real tears while the eleven gun salutes take place for honor and patriotism.
War is the failure of our collective humanity. While the leaders’ sons and daughters are tucked away in pleasant dreams, only the soldiers from the working class are put into forefront of vicious war. With the fervor of constricted patriotism, these soldiers sacrifice their lives, limbs while taking away lives of many others in the battlefield or by the devastating bombardments from a calculated safe distance.
There are clear signs of discontents and protests from world citizenry against this unjustified war. Unlike the few Bush pampered leaders from Spain, Great Britain, Bulgaria, the majority of nations represented in the United Nations have rejected Bush administration’s curiously rushing toward the war.
Even those nations who are now siding with Bush devised onslaught against the Iraqi civilians and children, the majority of their populations are not in favor of this war. Only a few weeks ago, millions of people from around the world flooded their streets with colorful display of peace; they rightfully questioned their leaders about the motive and timing of this war when it is apparent that the United Nations sponsored weapons inspection is producing positive results, Iraq’s weapons are getting destroyed, and even Hans Blix, the chief Weapons inspector gave the news of positive development in Iraq’s disarmament.
“… nations are not supposed to launch military invasions based on hunches and fragmentary intelligence.”  – These are the extracted words from the New York editorial. This war is designed and based on imponderable faith and belief that is not justified by logic and rationalization. Jimmy Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former American President gives a probable answer to why Bush and his faith based colleagues are so eager to engage in war: “As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.” 
In his widely televised scarce and “scripted” news conference, Bush tried to assure the world that he was not in favor of war. He said that he still believes that this war could be averted. But did Bush give any hopes to avoid the war? Bush was eloquent in his vision and duty: “My job is to protect America, and that is exactly what I'm going to do. . . . I swore to protect and defend the Constitution; that's what I swore to do. I put my hand on the Bible and took that oath, and that's exactly what I am going to do." Bush is convinced that he is doing the best he could in waging the war against Iraq as he is so convinced by his faith based associates that Jimmy Carter points out. The same Bible that billions of peaceful Christians read also professes love, patience and forgiving virtues over hatred, haste and unforgiving follies.
In his news conference Bush tried to link Iraq with the notorious Al Qaeda though still now he or his associates could not produce any evidence in their preposterous claims. Maureen Dowd writes, “But citing 9/11 eight times in his news conference was exploitative, given that the administration concedes there is no evidence tying Iraq to the 9/11 plot. By stressing that totem, Mr. Bush tried to alchemize American anger at Al Qaeda into support for smashing Saddam.” 
Ms. Dowd also pointed out that conservatives got a Bush who wanted to be Reagan. “With 9/11, they found a new tragedy to breathe life into their old dreams.” 
One may ask what are these old conservative dreams Ms. Dowd is writing about? Are these the final days judgment scenario, the doom day battle that President Carter mentioned in his article? Thomas L. Friedman writes, our world “does not want to be led by an America whose Congress is so traumatized by 9/11 that it can't think straight and by a president ideologically committed to war in Iraq no matter what the costs, the support, or the prospects for a decent aftermath.” 
America and the world are passing the critical time period. There are fundamentalists like Osama Bin Laden and his murderer thugs are acting in unison to raise their headcount by brainwashing the newly recruits from the devastated and impoverished nations like Afghanistan and many other nations from our conflict straddled world. At this critical juncture while America needs all the genuine willful cooperation from around the world to eradicate these dangerous nuisance like terrorism is, Bush’s pre-determined wishes and arrogance cannot but provoke more anti-American feelings among the gullible.
Just after the September 11, 2001, the world was indeed unified against the brutal and murderous tactics of the thugs and terrorists, but now, due to the display of sheer arrogance and domineering attitude and “don’t care” motif shown by the Bush administration toward the world outpouring opinions against this ill-conceived war, instead of the necessary unified stance against terrorism, there are mounting questions on American rapidly changing ideals and ideologies. Once this great nation had inspired the billions of freedom loving people of our world in their continuous struggle against the torture, brutality and aggressions committed by the oppressors and occupiers, and now their ideals are shattered, their followed ideologies are lofted and heaped into the darkest corner of wastage décor.
The initial war plan is to bomb Iraq into rubble. Jimmy Carter writes, “The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.” 
The real people suffer in the real war. The real people get killed in the real war. This is not Hollywood smattered artistic masterpiece like Saving Private Ryan, this is the reality. In the Second World War, millions of innocent civilians were killed by the endless bombardments of German vicious Stuka over France and many other parts, while the Allied resistance countered and defeated Hitler’s supremacist zeals, there were real lives vaporized, there were real dreams were vandalized with war’s ravage and savage reality. Ian McEwan provides a startling and graphic description on the reality of war in his internationally acclaimed novel, “The Atonement” published last year. Here is an extract from his memorable book (Page 234-238):
There was more confusion ahead, more shouting. Incredibly, an armoured column was forcing its way against the forward press of traffic, soldiers and refugees. The crowd parted reluctantly. People squeezed into the gaps between abandoned vehicles or against shattered walls and doorways. It was a French column, hardly more than a detachment – three armoured cars, two half-tracks and two troop carriers. There was no show of common cause. Among the British troops the view was that the French had let them down. No will to fight for their own country. Irritated at being pushed aside, the tommies swore, and taunted their allies with shouts of “Maginot!” For their part, the poilus must have heard rumors of an evacuation. And here they were, being sent to cover the rear. “Cowards! To the boats! Go shit in your pants!” Then they were gone, and the crowd closed in again under a cloud of diesel smoke and walked on.
They were approaching the last houses in the village. In a field ahead, he saw a man and his collie dog walking behind a horse-drawn plough. Like the ladies in the shoe shop, the farmer did not seem aware of the convoy. These lives were lived in parallel – war was a hobby for the enthusiasts and no less serious for that. Like the deadly pursuit of a hunt to hounds, while over the next hedge a woman in the back seat of a passing motor car was absorbed in her knitting, and in the bare garden of a new house a man was teaching his son to kick a ball. Yes, the ploughing would still go on and there’d be a crop, someone to reap it and mill it, others to eat it, and not everyone would be dead …
Turner was thinking this when Nettle gripped his arm and pointed. The commotion of the passing French column had covered the sound, but they were easy enough to see, little dots in the blue, circling above the road. Turner and the corporals stopped to watch, and everyone nearby saw them too.
An exhausted voice murmured close to his ear, “Fuck. Where’s the RAF?”
Another said knowingly, “They’ll go for the Frogs.”
As if goaded into disproof, one of the specks peeled away and began its near-vertical dive, directly above their heads. For seconds the sound did not reach them. The silence was building like pressure in their ears. Even the wild shouts that went up and down the road did not relieve it. Take cover! Disperse! Disperse! At the double!
It was difficult to move. He could walk on at a steady trudge, and he could stop, but it was an effort, an effort of memory, to reach for the unfamiliar commands, to turn away from the road and run. They had stopped by the last house in the village. Beyond the house was a barn and flanking both was the field where the farmer had been ploughing. Now he was standing under a tree with his dog, as though sheltering from a shower of rain. His horse, still in harness, grazed along the unploughed strip. Soldiers and civilians were streaming away from the road in all directions. A woman brushed past him carrying a crying child, then she changed her mind and came back and stood, turning indecisively at the side of the road. Which way? The farmyard or the field? Her immobility delivered him from his own. As he pushed her by the shoulder towards the gate, the rising howl commenced. Nightmares had become a science. Someone, a mere human, had taken the time to dream up this satanic howling. And what success! It was the sound of panic itself, mounting and straining towards the extinction they all knew, individually, to be theirs. It was a sound you were obliged to take personally. Turner guided the woman through the gate. He wanted her to run with him into the center of the field. He had touched her, and made her decision for her, so now he felt he could not abandon her. But the boy was at least six years old and heavy, and together they were making no progress at all.
He dragged the child from her arms. “Come on,” he shouted.
A Stuka carried a single thousand-pound bomb. The idea on the ground was to get away from buildings, vehicles and other people. The pilot was not going to waste his precious load on a lone figure in a field. When he turned back to strafe it would be another matter. Turner had seen them hunt down a springing man for the sport of it. With a free hand he was pulling on the woman’s arm. The boy was wetting his pants and screaming in Turner’s ear. The mother seemed incapable of running. She was stretching out her hand and shouting. She wanted her son back. The child was wriggling towards her, across his shoulder. Now came the screech of the falling bomb. They said that if you heard the noise stop before the explosion, your time was up. As he dropped to the grass he pulled the woman with him and shoved her head down. He was half lying across the child as the ground shook to the unbelievable roar. The shock wave prised them from the earth. They covered their faces against the stinging spray of dirt. They heard the Stuka climb from its dive even as they heard the banshee wail of the next attack. The bomb had hit the road less than eighty yards away. He had the boy under his arm and he was trying to pull the woman to her feet.
“We’ve got to run again. We’re too close to the road.”
The woman answered but he did not understand her. Again they were stumbling across the field. He felt the pain his side like a flash of colour. The boy was in his arms, and again the woman seemed to be dragging back, and trying to get her son from him. There were hundreds in the field now, all making for the woods on the far side. At the shrill while of the bomb everyone cowered on the ground. But the woman had no instinct for danger and he had to pull her down again. This time they were pressing their faces into freshly turned earth. As the screech grew louder the woman shouted what sounded like a prayer. He realized then that she wasn’t speaking French. The explosion was on the far side of the road, more than a hundred and fifty yards away. But now the first Stuka was turning over the village and dropping for the strafe. The boy had gone silent with shock. His mother wouldn’t stand. Turner pointed to the Stuka coming in over the rooftops. They were right in its path and there was no time for argument. She wouldn’t move. He threw himself down into the furrow. The rippling thuds of machine-gun fire in the ploughed earth and the engine roar flashed past them. A wounded soldier was screaming. Turner was on his feet. But the woman would not take his hand. She sat on the ground and hugged the boy tightly to her. She was speaking Flemish to him, soothing him, surely telling him that everything was going to be all right. Mama would see to that. Turner didn’t know a single word of the language. It would have made no difference. She paid him no attention. The boy was staring at him blankly over his mother’s shoulder.
Turner took a step back. Then he ran. As he floundered across the furrows the attack was coming in. The rich soil was clinging to his boots. Only in nightmares were feet so heavy. A bomb fell on the road, way over in the center of the village, where the lorries were. But one screech hid another, and it hit the field before he could go down. The blast lifted him forwards several feet and drove him face-first into the soil. When he came to, his mouth and nose and ears were filled with dirt. He was trying to clear his mouth, but he had no saliva. He used a finger, but that was worse. He was gagging on the dirt, then he was gagging on his filthy finger. He blew the dirt from his nose. His snot was mud and it covered his mouth. But the woods were near, there would be streams and waterfalls and lakes in there. He imagined a paradise. When the rising howl of a diving Stuka sounded again, he struggled to place the sound. Was it the all-clear? His thoughts too were clogged. He could not spit or swallow, he could not easily breathe, and he could not think. Then, at the sight of the farmer with his dog still waiting patiently under the tree, it came back to him, he remembered everything and he turned to look back. Where the woman and her son had been was a crater. Even as he saw it, he thought he had always known. That was why he had to leave them. His business was to survive, though he had forgotten why. He kept on towards the woods.
Bush declares that his job is to protect American people. There is no opposition in his solemn duty. Perhaps, the objection arises when Bush conveniently forget to realize the cost of this impending war. The cost that would be paid by the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians and sanction feasted impoverished children, and also the sacrifices of American lives in the battlefield whose family are waiting in the dinner table and praying for his or for her safe return. In the Iraqi household, similar prayers, and urging hands are lifted toward the heaven and White House to spare their lives and beloveds from the war’s wraths and devastations.
1. “Saying No to War”, New York times, March 9, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/09/opinion/09SUN1.html?ex=1048180332&ei=1&en=50133b816ef54a6c
2. Jimmy Carter, “Just War – Or a Just War”, New York Times, March 9, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/09/opinion/09CART.html?ex=1048180282&ei=1&en=20c36d77478cc640
3. Shafeeq Ghabra, “An Arab House – Openly Divided”, Washington Post, March 9, 2003. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59729-2003Mar7.html
4. Maureen Dowd, “The Xanax Cowboy”, The New York Times, March 9, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/09/opinion/09DOWD.html?ex=1048179494&ei=1&en=dd750b94a5da8cd0
5. Thomas L. Friedman, “Fire, Ready, Aim”, New York Times, March 9, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/09/opinion/09FRIE.html?ex=1048179535&ei=1&en=17669db33b61d209
Picture Reference: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwtwo/images/leningrad_after_bombing.jpg