Child with a Bandage
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
April 14, 2003
That picture of a four-year-old Iraqi girl holding her father’s hand haunts me. She had a bandage wrapped around her head. Her father’s white striped shirt was smeared with blood. It was a dismal picture. The little girl was shot in the head. Her face showed hurting and half closed eyes were tender as if no more complaints left to the world.
I wonder what happened to that girl after that picture was published. I didn’t know her name. There was no more news about her after that. She is one of the nameless casualties of this war. Insignificant to many. Perhaps, momentous to numerous.
Children of Iraq have suffered severely from this war. Children of Iraq have suffered from the decade old devastating economic sanctions imposed by the heartless International community. There were indeed uproars against the sanctions that was killing hundreds of thousands of innocent child from malnutrition, lack of modern medical facilities and for various other related necessities that a child need to have a secured and better life. These children were denied the basic rights of existence.
Of course the fallen Saddam junta was partly responsible for Iraqi children’s fateful life. Huge parts of foreign aids and UN sanctioned money went for extravagant Palaces now lie in ruined jumble. Lavish life style for the dictators and friends and perks to silence opposition or buying them outright is getting the daylight commendably. In harsh reality one cannot but wonder: didn’t that same abominable junta used their nation’s money to further their and their peer’s life, denying the mass the basic amenities of life while the power hubs of our world paying official visits, providing weapons and cajoling the dictators, even praising them as “our guys in Iraq”?
Bob Herbert is poised in reminding us the forgotten history, “It was known by the fall of 1983 that Iraq had used chemical weapons against Iran. That did not prevent the U.S. from pursuing improved relations with Saddam, or curb the enthusiasm for the Aqaba pipeline — a project promoted by a company that had given the Reagan administration not just its secretary of state, but also its secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger, who had been Bechtel's general counsel.”  History is truly amazing. And the amazement is detrimental for refined democracy, conceivably.
“Now, 20 years later, Mr. Shultz (who is currently on the board of Bechtel) and Mr. Rumsfeld are among the fiercest of the war hawks. They wanted war with Iraq and they got it.”  Their wishes are fulfilled in Iraq amid innocent Iraqis shredded corpses, bandaged child in the hospitals, and in looters’ anarchy.
“This unilateral war and the ouster of Saddam have given the hawks and their commercial allies carte blanche in Iraq. And the company with perhaps the sleekest and most effective of all the inside tracks, a company that is fairly panting with anticipation over oil and reconstruction contracts worth scores of billions of dollars, is of course the Bechtel Group of San Francisco.” Where are the ethics groups? Where are the outcries from the “purest democracies” of our world?
Robert Fisk was mourning for the astonishing damage of priceless ancient artifacts in Iraqi historical museums, thousands of years of old precious relics of Iraq have been swindled, destroyed within only a few days after “celebrated liberation”. John F Burns writes, “The National Museum of Iraq recorded a history of civilizations that began to flourish in the fertile plains of Mesopotamia more than 7,000 years ago. But once American troops entered Baghdad in sufficient force to topple Saddam Hussein's government this week, it took only 48 hours for the museum to be destroyed, with at least 170,000 artifacts carried away by looters.” 
Poor Iraqis have less to brag about their ancient heritage now, it seems. Now they are almost equal to the ones with not much to brag about in terms of ancient historical lineage. Equality in heritage and history is instituted. Is this coincidence or deliberate acts of retribution? Time will surely tell the truth.
Now the predictable talks of WMD being relocated to other middle-eastern nation beginning to surface in the media from the relentless mouth of powerful leaders and their surrogates. The similar buildup is in action, “the gathering storm” will be proclaimed soon by mighty conservative writers to prepare the mass for another war, possibly before the next major election. Perhaps, this time they do not need much persuasion. The precedent have already been stamped and sealed. Now only the meager amount of manipulation of people’s boosted fear, few humbug discovery of other dictators’ flaws, follies and dreadful connections to “evildoers” will be expanded in demystifying subtlety. Similar tricks, but combination of patterns might be different for the sake of ingenuity.
Possibly countless more unaware victims of coming wars are leading their daily lives, children are going to school, running in the field with greenish kites, and in the market place families are bustling to get the freshest tomatoes or price hiked rice. If the war comes once again with its thumping blast, how many haunting images of bandaged child holding her father’s hand in dismal gloom will be repeated?
1. Bob Herbert, “Ultimate Insiders”, The New York Times, April 14, 2003.
2. John F Burns, “Pillagers Strip Iraqi Museums of Its Treasure”, The New York Times, April 12, 2003.
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: email@example.com.