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Stateside with Rosalea: The siege of Baghdad


The siege of Baghdad

Stateside with Rosalea

By Rosalea Barker

It's Wednesday morning here and the radio reports of Operation Iraqi Fiefdom say that the Iraqi troops guarding Baghdad have been decimated. I wonder if that's the case or if they've just moved inside the city for the house to house battles to come. I noticed the news reader used the word "allied" instead of "coalition" forces, and wondered if that's some new subtlety coming from the Pentagon.

Over the weekend I thought I'd make a last-minute scramble to resurrect a play I started writing back in 1989, and submit it to the SF Fringe Festival as a one-act. Alas, it's beyond salvaging. The play's set in 11th century Seville, and is about a "peripatetic poet in search of patronage and power." Here's a sample: "Pah! Silves! That's where I struck these perfidious Berber heads from their cowering bodies. Have you a poem on my great victory there?"

Perfidy. Now there's a word. Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Monday regarding perfidy. It's at http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/03/iraq033103.htm Not only does the statement tell you what perfidy is, but it tells you what it is not:

"Perfidy is distinguished from ruses of war, such as mock operations, misinformation, surprises, ambushes, or the use of camouflage or decoy. Ruses are permissible acts of warfare intended to trick the enemy; they do not violate international law to the extent that they do not depend on taking advantage of an enemy’s willingness to abide by the law protecting noncombatants."

I am glad that there are organisations like Human Rights Watch in existence, who are able to focus the most terrible manifestations of "man's inhumanity to man" through a lens of considered judgment. Somewhere along the continuum from the inaccuracy of "subhuman" to the inaccuracy of "same as us, only wearing different clothes" is the reality of the Iraqi people and the millenia-old culture they are part of. Ditto for Westerners, as they might be viewed by the Arab world.

All the same, it's very sad to learn there are "permissible acts of warfare."


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