A veteran Jamaican journalist. He has covered Caribbean affairs for more than 40 years. He is currently a columnist for The Jamaica Observer. He joins us on the phone from Kingston.
On the first anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Democracy Now! spends the hour looking at a war that was carried out over the objections of most of the world’s nations and people. We hear from an Iraqi in Baghdad, U.S. soldiers back from Iraq, journalist Christian Parenti and from protesters across the globe.
On March 20, 2003 at approximately 5:35 am Baghdad time, US forces began raining bombs down on Iraq, while thousands of US and British soldiers began pouring across Iraq’s borders. It was a year ago today US time. It was the official beginning to what the Bush administration hailed as a campaign of "Shock and Awe." The attacks were not authorized by the United Nations and they were carried out over the loud and public objections of most of the world’s nations and people.
The bombing and invasion in Iraq were met with an almost immediate response of massive world-wide protest. A year later, the war in Iraq continues. Some would say, it has only just begun. Perhaps as many as 10, 000 Iraqi civilians have died. Resistance to the occupation has increased. And US soldiers continue to come home in body bags. According to the Pentagon’s official statistics, more than 570 US soldiers have been killed, more than 430 of these since George Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and declared the end of major combat operations. According to the Pentagon, some 29,000 US troops have either been killed, wounded, injured or become so ill as to require evacuation from Iraq. That is close to the total of a whole army division.
After Bush landed on the aircraft carrier last May 1, he spoke to soldiers with a banner behind him that read "Mission Accomplished." No weapons of mass destruction have been found.
The Bush administration has barred media organizations from filming the return of caskets from Iraq and President Bush has yet to attend a single funeral of a soldier killed in action during his presidency. While he hasn’t found time to attend any funerals, Bush and Vice president Dick Cheney attended some 100 campaign fundraisers in 2003, some of these on days when US soldiers were being laid to rest. And while the bodybags continue to come home, it remains Iraqis who pay the price of the occupation. There is no doubt that the situation in Iraq has grown more and more violent each day the occupation continues, even though Saddam Hussein and his top leadership have been either killed or captured. Almost no day goes by without a bombing in Iraq, a US soldier being killed, an Iraqi life being destroyed. Desertions from the US army have increased by 32% since 1999.
By the end of 2003, the cost of the Iraq war to US taxpayers was more than $100 billion. This weekend, people across the globe will mark the one year anniversary of the beginning of the invasion of Iraq.
Today on the program, we will hear from protest organizers around the world and find out what kinds of actions will be taking place. We will also be joined by soldiers from the US military, who have been deployed in Iraq, as well as journalist Christian Parenti, who was embedded with both the US military and an Iraqi resistance group. But first, we go to Baghdad where we are joined by a man familiar to Democracy Now! listeners. He was on this show a year ago, when he said that UK/USA means "United to Kill Us All." Ghazwan al-Mukhtar is a retired engineer, who lives with his family in Baghdad.
- Excerpt of "We Interrupt this Empire" by San Francisco Video Activist Network.