Bob Woodward: “In Iraq, Bush Thinks We Have Done a Magnificent Thing”

Bob Woodward in his interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” last night, said that George Bush sees the action the U.S. has taken in Iraq as “magnificent” and that Bush is “frustrated with the attitude of the Iraqi people….  He doesn’t understand why Iraq citizens are not more  appreciative.”

Woodward in the interview was promoting his new book, “The War Within”  (An interesting review of the book is “Bob Woodward Writes Self-Adoring New Bush Chronicle.” )  Pelley said the obvious to Woodward, that maybe one reason the Iraqis lack appreciation is because tens of thousands of their friends and family have been killed.  Woodward’s reply was that Bush’s focus, “his beacon,” is on Iraq’s liberation.

Estimates of how many Iraqi’s have been killed vary.  According to the British group, Iraq Body Count, the current number of documented Iraqi civilian deaths is 86,864 – 94,782.   Just Foreign Policy puts the number much higher  — 1,255,026 — and offers an on-going Iraqi civilian death counter that can be added to web-sites.  A British polling firm called Opinion Research Business estimates that the number of Iraqi civilian deaths exceeds 1 million.

Surprisingly, Google shows very few articles that center on the suffering of the civilians of Iraq.  An article in the Guardian says that this lack of reporting is the result of a deliberate U.S. policy to not count civilian deaths and that this policy comes from lessons learned in the Vietnam War:

Lieutenant General Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during his time as head of US Central Command, once announced, “We don’t do body counts.” This blunt response to a question about civilian casualties was an attempt to distance George Bush’s wars from the disaster of Vietnam. One of the rituals of that earlier conflict was the daily announcement of how many Vietnamese fighters US forces had killed. It was supposed to convince a sceptical American public that victory was coming. But the “body count” concept sounded callous – and never more so than when it emerged that many of the alleged guerrilla dead were in fact women, children and other unarmed civilians.”

In addtion to many civilian Iraqi deaths that cause Iraqi’s to see this war as less than “magnificient,” are the huge numbers of civilians displaced by the war.  According to Refugee International, one in five Iraqis are refugees:  2.8 million vacated their homes for safer areas in Iraq and 2 million fled the country — to Syria, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Gulf States — and most are living in awful conditions. The number of displaced Iraq citizens is huge for such a small country. If Americans were displaced at the same proportion, 60 million Americans would be displaced.

I found this film, “The Hard Way Home,” by a British filmaker, Paul Eedle,  commissioned by the Arabic service of the BBC:

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