Notes From the Margins…

Iraq: The Invisible Dead

  • January 24, 2013
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I had a bit of an Internet disaster yesterday, when I upgraded WordPress and my entire blog disappeared,   to be replaced by the dreaded White Screen of Death.     I felt as if I’d been airbrushed from history by technological forces outside by control – and my knowledge.     I had done backups, of course, but I wasn’t sufficiently techno savvy to get my website back up.   In fact I couldn’t even get into the site at all.

Anyway, fortunately, my domain provider was able to sort it out, and so here I am again, ready to crank up the machine once again with a link to my latest piece for Ceasefire magazine on the Iraq drawdown.  It’s entitled ‘The Invisible Dead’ – a title which has acquired a kind of retrospective irony as a result of my 24 hours in the memory hole:

In his inaugural address yesterday (Jan. 21, 2013), US President Barack Obama appeared to distance his administration still further from the unilateral militarism of the George W Bush years, when he insisted that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”   This declaration was accompanied by the customary genuflection   to “ Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle” and a reminder that “Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm”.

Such paeans to the military have long been something of an obligation for American presidents, and the former community leader from Chicago who once opposed the Iraq war is no exception. In his speech to the last soldiers returning from Iraq, delivered at Fort Bragg on 14 December 2011, Obama described the war as an “extraordinary achievement” and told his audience “We know too well the heavy cost of this war. More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq.   Over 30,000 Americans have been wounded, and those are only the wounds that show.   Nearly 4,500 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Apart from a brief reference to “the spectre of sectarian violence” and “ al Qaeda”s attacks on mosques and pilgrims” Obama made no reference to the impact of this catastrophic war on the country it was supposed to save. There was no audit of the numbers of Iraqis killed, wounded, or made orphans and widows…

You can read the whole piece here.

1 Comment

  1. Nik H.

    24th Jan 2013 - 4:10 pm

    Excellent piece! Just ordered the book.

    Glad the Infernal Machine is back! (was already a bit worried) 🙂

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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