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"When the British Were Fired Upon . . . From Delhi and in Northern Ireland, They Did Not Use Artillery. But Here, Apparently, It Is Ok to Use Artillery On a Crowded City." Interview with Robert Fisk,

March 25, 2003


“The fact of the matter is–and it’s become obvious in the Middle East over the last few years–the West doesn’t want to take casualties. They don’t want to die. Nobody wants to die, but some people out here realize a new form of warfare has set in where, the United States, if they want to invade a country, they will bombard it. They will use other people’s soldiers to do it. Look at the way the Israelis used Lebanese mercenaries of the South Lebanon army in Lebanon. Look at the way the Americans used the KLA in Kosovo or the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. But here in Iraq there isn’t anyone they can use; the Iraqi opposition appears to be hopeless. The Iraqis have not risen up against their oppressors as they did in 1991 when they were betrayed by the Americans and the British after being urged to fight Saddam- they’re staying at home. They’re letting the Americans do the liberating.

“If the Americans want to liberate them, fine, let the Americans do it- but the Americans aren’t doing very well at the moment. You see, we’ve already got a situation down in Basra where the British army have admitted firing artillery into the city of Basra, and then winging on afterward talking about ’We’re being fired at by soldiers hiding among civilians’. Well, I’m sorry; all soldiers defending cities are among civilians. But now the British are firing artillery shells into the heavily populated city of Basra.

"When the British were fired upon with mortars or with snipers from the cragg on the state or the bogside in Delhi and in Northern Ireland, they did not use artillery, but here, apparently, it is ok to use artillery on a crowded city. What on Earth is the British army doing in Iraq firing artillery into a city after invading the country? Is this really about weapons of mass destruction? Is this about al Qaeda? It’s interesting that in the last few days, not a single reporter has mentioned September 11th. This is supposed to be about September 11th. This is supposed to be about the war on terror, but nobody calls it that anymore because deep down, nobody believes it is. So, what is it about? It’s interesting that there are very few stories being written about oil."

Robert Fisk continues,

"I look down from my balcony here next to the Tigris River- does that mean we’re going to have an American tank on every intersection in Baghdad? What are they there for-to occupy? To repress? To run an occupation force against the wishes of Iraqis? Or are they liberators? It’s very interesting how the reporting has swung from one side to another. Are these liberating forces or occupying forces? Every time I hear a journalist say 'liberation', I know he means 'occupation'."

Tune in now for part three of our interview with journalist Robert Fisk.

  • Robert Fisk, reporter in Baghdad with the London newspaper The Independent.