Jewish World Review March 24, 2003 / 20 Adar II, 5763
European media and former 'human shields' are beginning to get it
"Coming into Basra as part of a massive military convoy, I encountered a
stream of young men, dressed in what appeared to be Iraqi army uniforms,
applauding the U.S. Marines as they swept past in tanks," David Willis, the
British Broadcasting Corporation's correspondent in southern Iraq, reported
It must have pained him to do it. No Western broadcast news organization
outside of France has been as vociferously anti-American as has the BBC.
Andrew Sullivan calls it the "Baghdad Broadcasting Corp."
The Independent and the Guardian are two of the most left-wing of British
newspapers. Their editorial pages and columnists strongly have denounced
President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and war with Iraq. But their
reporters "embedded" with U.S. and U.K. troops are reporting the same things
"As a huge British convoy crossed into Iraq yesterday, hundreds of children
came to greet it," the Independent's Paul Harris reported Sunday. "As the
troops moved past small boys ran up to the windows smiling and grinning.
Older men stood and watched. Occasionally they gave a thumbs-up signal."
"Iraqi civilians lined the streets and cheered American and British forces
moving up from the south," the Guardian acknowledged.
"You're late. What took you so long?" the Guardian quoted one Iraqi as
saying. "God help you become victorious...I want to say hello to Bush, to
shake his hand."
The Telegraph's Olga Craig witnessed the Iraqi surrender at Um Qasr. "We
never wanted to fight - only the diehards did," she quoted one Iraqi soldier
as saying. "We hate Saddam, but we are scared," said another.
These reports come from southern Iraq, populated overwhelming by Shi'ia
Muslims long oppressed by Saddam. Support for the regime likely is stronger
in Baghdad and its environs, populated chiefly by the Sunni Arab minority
that has run Iraq since its creation after World War I.
But reports that Saddam is just about as unpopular with his base as he is
with the Shi'as and the Kurds has come from an unlikely source: repentant
former "human shields."
"A group of American anti-war demonstrators, part of a Japanese human-shield
delegation, returned from Iraq yesterday with 14 hours of uncensored video,
all shot without Iraqi government minders present, with Iraqis eager to tell
of their welcome for American troops," the Washington Times' Arnaud de
Borchgrave reported from Amman, Jordan Sunday.
Rev. Kenneth Joseph said some of the Iraqis he interviewed "told me they
would commit suicide if the American bombing didn't start. They were willing
to see their homes demolished to gain freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny."
"I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam," wrote Daniel Pepper,
who went to Iraq with a British anti-war group, in the Telegraph Sunday.
Pepper's awakening began, he said, in a conversation with a taxi driver who
was taking him back to his hotel in Baghdad:
"I said, as we shields always did, 'Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good.' He looked
at me with an expression of incredulity," Pepper said.
"As he realized I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken
English about the evils of Saddam's regime," Pepper said. "Until then I had
only heard the president spoken of with respect, but now this guy was
telling me how all of Iraq's oil money went into Saddam's pocket and that if
you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family."
Pepper asked another taxi driver, who took him and five others from Baghdad
to Jordan, if he feared American aerial bombardment.
"Don't you listen to Powell on Voice of America radio?" the cab driver said.
"Of course the Americans don't want to bomb civilians. They want to bomb the
government and Saddam's palaces. We want America to bomb Saddam...All Iraqi
people want this war."
Back in London, Pepper attended an anti-war rally last Thursday. This time,
he was disgusted by it.
"Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out," he
said. "It is extraordinarily ironic that the anti-war protesters are
marching to defend a government which stops its people from exercising that
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
administration. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Jack Kelly