A True Story About Iraq

I shall type this in verbatim from pages 258 of “THE WAR AGAINST TRUTH: an Intimate Account of the Invasion”: Vancouver, Raincoast Books 2004.

“The War Against Truth” is by a Canadian classical scholar named Paul William Roberts who was also a war correspondent in Baghdad during and after the American invasion.

Since we are on the subject of bombs and cowardice, I will now unburden myself of an equally sickening piece of information. On page 3 of the Jordan Times’ Sunday edition for May 4 2003, there was an article headlined JAPANESE JOURNALIST SUMMONED BEFORE MILITARY TRIBUNAL. It concerned a man named Hiroki Gomi:

“The 36-year-old photo-journalist from the Japanese newspaper Mainchi Shimbun was taken into custody late Thursday after an unidentified metal object screened in his bag exploded in the hands of airport security official Ali Sarhan, killing him and injuring three others. Gomi was later questioned by prosecutors in the presence of the Japanese consul.”

Gomi had been on assignment in Iraq, the article went on to say and had “picked up the explosive device as a ‘souvenir of the remnants of war on Iraq, but was unaware it was an explosive device’…the journalist ‘picked up objects, shaped like bells, in debris around an abandoned car on April 11’, while traveling to Amman from Baghdad.”

The article is somewhat inconclusive, since we do not discover Hiroki Gomi’s fate. Why a military tribunal?, you may also wonder. Or, what kind of idiot takes home bombs as souvenirs?

Back in Jordan I heard the real story. At Amman airport, the security scanner did not like the look of something in Hiroki Gomi’s luggage. He was asked to take it out. The article seemed to be a child’s spinning top, but it had an unusually thick shell so inspectors were suspicious. While they were examining it further, it exploded. Gomi was running around screaming hysterically. When the authorities finally found someone who could speak Japanese it turned out that the journalist was saying: ‘there’s another one. I gave it to my cabdriver for his kids.’ A frantic hunt ensued. When finally the cab driver was found, the other device, fortunately, had not yet exploded. During questioning, Gomi said that the objects had come out of another device that had been dropped by an American plane (emphasis mine…not Roberts) near Ramadi on the outskirts of Baghdad. There were many more, and he assumed they were gifts-part of the “winning hearts and minds” campaign.

In fact, they were cluster bomblets.

(Langes schweigen: long silence followed by the numbers of mourning)

ALEPH. What the fuck?

BETH. I knew that the war was criminal, and I took time off from taking care of my sick father to work in Evanston, Illinois, with Neighbors for Peace and to go to to New York to participate in the March 15 2003 demonstration against the war. I didn’t do enough.

GHIMEL. Roberts’ book is a little shop of horrors of things that really happened, that really, really happened, during the war including moronic Southern boys with no education and no morals laughing about what they saw: a little girl screaming and turning black from a round they fired at a civilian car in direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

HETH. During the obscene run up to the first Iraq war, Kanthan Pillay, now the CEO of a radio station in South Africa, then a student at Princeton, said to me “when you’re in Paris tell people you are Canadian”. I thought he was over the top. I don’t any more.

I knew what sort of sick fuck it would take to design such a weapon. Next to Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California, and near Bell Northern Research where I worked not in defense but in software engineering, there was a bar.

Full of geeky software and hardware engineers, it was joked at the time that the Soviets only needed to blow up that bar on a Saturday night to take out America’s defense establishment.

The partying engineers were all loud, falsely macho, and had a hard time getting laid because most of them were fat and ugly. Most of them weren’t even very good at their trade of software engineering, through basic stupidity and moronization through drug, alcohol and food addiction as well as corporate bullshit, but they regarded themselves nonetheless as “craftsmen” even when they were designing crap in order to meet deadlines or cluster bombs designed to be picked up by innocent children and tear them into shreds or Stealth bombers to deliver cluster bombs

to be picked up by innocent children and tear them into shreds

perhaps living just long enough to feel the pain

I do not know whether the asshole who had the bright idea of disguising cluster bombs as children’s toys, to be picked up by children who, owing to sanctions, didn’t get toys much, worked at Lockheed. But he worked at a firm like it.

It is said of course at this point that these were, like the Nazis at home, good family men. In fact they weren’t and after ten years in nondefense software I was a lousy family man. Men who return from combat in Iraq are not good family men: they are violent sons of bitches who need to be monitored.

And that is that. That is all I have to say.


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