Diary reflections on the tenth anniversary of the War in Iraq

Personal reflections from my diary on the tenth anniversary of the second War in Iraq while living in Saudi Arabia. Photo: AP

DHARHAN, SAUDI ARABIAMarch 20, 2013 – When the Iraq War began in March of 2003 I was living in Saudi Arabia.

Following are some excerpts from my diary during those first days ten years ago.

“It didn’t take long for the heavy fireworks to begin.  The talking was over.  War had begun in all its fury.  It looked like the world was in flames. 

“Like so many people, I wanted Saddam gone, but I also wanted proof that the reasons for eliminating him were legitimate.  So far there had only been reports of the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” and not a lot of hard evidence that they existed.

“There was a breakfast scheduled at the exhibit and I was curious whether there would be conversations about the war.

“One Saudi offered me a place in line and explained the items on the buffet.  His demeanor was kind, and he even offered me a place at his table.  As it happened, Fahad was already seated at the same table.  I could tell he was deep in thought.  He was not at all the same person who had taken me to lunch on my first day in Saudi Arabia.  I asked him a few questions about the food, which he grudgingly described. Then without a word he got up and left. Though I could not be certain, my gut told me he wanted no part of having breakfast with an American or to even be seen talking with me.

“I kept asking myself how I would react if the situation was reversed and a Saudi had come into my workplace as the token Arab.  How would I treat them? 

“Late Saturday afternoon Ali Qamarah came to my door wanting to know how to spell “REUTERS” so he could access their web page and catch up on the news. 

“Ali told me that most Iraqis wanted the war.  He added that the media was not telling the whole story by showing only the anti-American side of things.  His words were difficult to sort out, but his message was clear, and I was surprised to hear his view. 

“Ali wasn’t making a resounding endorsement of the Americans and George Bush.  In fact, Iraqis felt betrayed by the Americans after the first Gulf War.  They had been told to fight Saddam themselves, but they were not equipped to do so. When they made the effort, they found themselves under greater fear of personal harm than ever before. 

“The best thing that could happen would be for the war to be quick and for the chemical and biological weapons in question to be discovered.

“There was a report that Iraq had set fires around the perimeter of Baghdad to prevent enemy forces from entering the city. It was a strategy that was more than a thousand years old that spoke volumes about the Iraqi approach to combat as well as their perspective of a 21st century world

“During lunch, ten fighter jets screamed overhead.  It was the first time I had any sense of being anywhere close to the war zone.  It was a sound that was both hopeful and frightening.  Watching the explosions in Baghdad on television was one thing, but hearing the deafening sounds of war was something completely different.

“If the awesome roar above struck fear into my own heart, I could only imagine how terrifying the devastating explosions were to the innocent children in Iraq. The relentless bombardment alone would resonate horror in anyone

“Scattered reports claimed Iraqis had taken several American prisoners of war. Twelve soldiers took a wrong turn in their vehicle and became surrounded by enemy forces. According to NBC, some soldiers were executed and videotape of the bodies was being shown on Al-Jazeera.

“I hit the remote to Channel Four to watch the war propaganda. They were showing taped interviews with four American prisoners, three white men and a black woman.  They were petrified and disoriented as their captors kept asking why they wanted to kill Iraqis and what were they doing there. 

“Then Al-Jazeera cut to footage of the dead. Nine American men had been shot in the head, their bodies lying on a concrete floor face up.  The unedited tape zoomed and panned the room, focusing on each victim.  Toward the end of the sequence an Iraqi pulled one of the bodies by the shirt and moved it into position to get a better angle for the camera. He had a huge smile on his face like a hunter displaying his prey.  It was a gruesome, sickening scene.

“What made it worse was that the footage would never be seen in the U.S.  It was too horrible. No American network would even consider broadcasting it. 

“I clicked back to CNN.  At that point, there was only speculation that the footage I had just watched existed.  CNN either could not, or would not, confirm what I already knew to be true.  A reporter was asked whether she knew if one of the prisoners was indeed a woman. She said she didn’t know for sure. She would only state there had been reports that a female was among the prisoners.

“It was a moment of desperate frustration for me.  Was CNN withholding news due to sensitivities about the notification to the families or did they really not know?

“The technology for the coverage of the war had been fabulous, and the pictures from the field brought a never-before-seen perspective of war.  But it was amazing that for all the embedded journalists on the scene, and with a 24/7 news cycle on multiple channels, there was still news that, for whatever reason, was not being reported.”

Contact Bob at  <ahref=”https://plus.google.com/#110562793209908234170/?rel=author”>Google+</a>

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

 

 


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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