Democracy Now! March 25, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! March 25, 2003
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Hour 1: US and British warplanes begin intense bombardment of Republican Guard positions outside the Iraqi capital: We go to Baghdad for report from May Ying Welsh; Kurdish officials say 150 killed by U.S. bombing, scores of Iraqi civilian casualties elsewhere: British writer Milan Rai analyzes the opening days of the U.S. invasion; From broadcasting images of POWs to distributing propaganda leaflets to embedding reports in the military: a review of the Pentagon s psychological operations; U.S. military has been quietly refueling its B-52s over Spain: Protesters fear a reoccurrence of the 1966 disaster when a B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons crashed with an aerial tanker over Spain Hour 2: Will Iraq become a quagmire for the Americans ? Non-embedded, Independent reporter Robert Fisk reports from Baghdad; Veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk says debating whether it s really Saddam detracts from the issue what the Iraqi President actually says. Part 2 of the interview; When the British were fired upon from Delhi and in Northern Ireland, they did not use artillery. But here, apparently, it is ok to use artillery on a crowded city. What on Earth is the British army doing in Iraq firing artillery into a city? : Part 3 of the interview with journalist Robert Fisk

8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20: US and British warplanes have begun an intense bombardment of Republican Guard bunkers outside Baghdad to prepare for a ground assault on the Iraqi capital. Army helicopter gunships in the frontline of the attack were forced to turn back after encountering a hail of small-arms fire. One of the Army's Apache helicopters went down. Shortly afterward, Iraqi state television showed the two crewmen, 26-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Young Jr, and 30-year-old Chief Warrant Officer David Williams. The airmen were the second set of POWs displayed by the Iraqis. Troops from the US army 5th Corps have formed a frontline about 50 miles south of Baghdad. Vast convoys of tanks and ground forces are racing up from Kuwait to join them. The US army's 3rd Infantry Division is attempting to push towards Baghdad but is stalled by a sandstorm. Guest: May Ying Welsh, independent journalist in Baghdad 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:40: The Pentagon is reporting about 500 Iraqi fighters have been killed in the last two days by the 3rd Infantry Division. Meanwhile it is extremely difficult to get any information on Iraqi civilian casualties. The London Guardian is reporting In Nassiriya a US warplane dropped up to four cluster bombs on a civilian area killing 10 and wounding 200. In northeast Iraq, U.S. missiles hit a village killing 34. And Kurdish officials say at least 150 people were killed by US bombing over the weekend in northern Iraq. The BBC has just reported Bodies of at least 30 Iraqis have been seen along the road from southern town of Nasiriya. Thirty-nine U.S. and British military personnel have been confirmed killed since the Iraqi conflict began. We talk to Milan Rai, author of War Plan Iraq and one of the founders of Voices in the Wilderness, UK, about the opening days of the US invasion Guest: Milan Rai, author of War Plan Iraq and one of the founders of Voices in the Wilderness, UK. 8:40- 8:41 One Minute Music Break 8:41-8:50: As the ground and air war plays out in Iraq, another battle, just as crucial, is taking place -- the propaganda struggle between the British-US coalition and Baghdad. This is the opening line of a recent piece by Agence France Press headlined Propaganda One of the Biggest Weapons for Both Sides in Iraq War. The article goes on to say: The most high-profile pawns in this psychological campaign have been the prisoners of war -- the hundreds of Iraqis said to have surrendered in the south and, more dramatically, five US soldiers captured on the weekend and shown alongside Arab broadcasts of dead comrades. The apparent downing of at least one US Apache helicopter Monday added to the shock being felt in the United States and Britain. But other developments either reported in the news or asserted by officials on both sides sought to exploit the situation and turn it to their advantage. Thus US authorities claimed to have located a suspected chemical weapons plant as their forces drove on towards Baghdad, and raised doubts over the health and command of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. In return, Iraqi officials have accused the Anglo-American coalition of war crimes and of suffering losses against fierce resistance mounted by their troops, militias and even ordinary peasants. Washington and London have insisted that their advance is going well and they are on track to start the siege of Baghdad. To talk about psy-ops of psychological operations we are joined by Chris Simpson. He is professor of communications at American University and author of Science of Coercion, among other books. Guest: Chris Simpson, Professor of communications at American University and author of several books including Science of Coercion 8:50-8:58: Massive protests are continuing in Spain against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Guardian of London reported that up to 500,000 marched against war in Barcelona on Saturday. Police violence against protesters has increased dramatically since the war started. And more protests are expected after recent revelations that U.S. B-52 bombers refueled over Spanish cities last week on their way to bomb Iraq. In 1966, a B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons collided with an aerial tanker while refueling near Palomares, Spain. The bombs fell away, with two scattering plutonium dust over several hundred acres of Spanish farmland. The Palomares area is still being monitored for radiation today. Guest: Maria Carrion, filmmaker and former Democracy Now! producer 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits 9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: Veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk wrote an article in yesterday s London Independent headlined, 'Iraq will become a quagmire for the Americans.' Well, after several days of attempting to reach Robert Fisk in Baghdad, we finally got through late last night. He elaborated on the article in the interview. He told us [the Bush administration] dreams up moral ideas and then believes that they re all true, and characterizes this policy by assuming that everyone else will then play their roles. In their attempt to dream up an excuse to invade Iraq, they've started out, remember, by saying first of all that there are weapons of mass destruction. We were then told that al Qaeda had links to Iraq, which, there certainly isn t an al Qaeda link. Then we were told that there were links to September 11th, which was rubbish. And in the end, the best the Bush administration could do was to say, Well, we re going to liberate the people of Iraq. Fisk went on, the American administration allowed that little cabal of advisors around Bush I m talking about Perle, Wolfowitz, and these other people people who have never been to war, never served their country, never put on a uniform nor, indeed, has Mr. Bush ever served his country they persuaded themselves of this Hollywood scenario of GIs driving through the streets of Iraqi cities being showered with roses by a relieved populace who desperately want this offer of democracy And the truth of the matter is that Iraq has a very, very strong political tradition of strong anti-colonial struggle. It doesn t matter whether that s carried out under the guise of kings or under the guise of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath party, or under the guise of a total dictator. There are many people in this country who would love to get rid of Saddam Hussein, I m sure, but they don t want to live under American occupation. Guest: Robert Fisk, reporter in Baghdad with the London newspaper The Independent Links: for a transcript of the interview: for Fisk s articles in the Independent, see 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40: We continue with the interview we recorded late last night with veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk in Baghdad. Fisk says the constant debate about whether Saddam Hussein s recent addresses on Iraqi television are by Hussein himself or by a double, detract from the issue at hand: what Hussein actually says. Fisk says an American correspondent told him: This is ridiculous, we simply can t report the story, because every time we have to deal with something Saddam says, the Pentagon claims it s not him or it s his double or it was recorded 2 weeks ago. Fisk reports that in his speech, Hussein continually referred to Iraq s history of fighting against colonialism, and repeatedly urged the Iraqi people to be patient. Fisk observes the Iraqi President s speech is in some ways similar to speeches by President Bush and Osama bin Laden: all of them invoke a battle against evil, against the devil. But first, he talks about rumors that Turkish troops have entered Iraq, and what its like to be a reporter covering the war without the Pentagon s active support. Guest: Robert Fisk, reporter in Baghdad with the London newspaper The Independent Links: for a transcript of the interview: for Fisk s articles in the Independent, see 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:58: The fact of the matter is and it s become obvious in the Middle East over the last few years the West doesn t want to take casualties. They don t want to die. Nobody wants to die, but some people out here realize a new form of warfare has set in where, the United States, if they want to invade a country, they will bombard it. They will use other people s soldiers to do it. Look at the way the Israelis used Lebanese mercenaries of the South Lebanon army in Lebanon. Look at the way the Americans used the KLA in Kosovo or the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. But here in Iraq there isn t anyone they can use; the Iraqi opposition appears to be hopeless. The Iraqis have not risen up against their oppressors as they did in 1991 when they were betrayed by the Americans and the British after being urged to fight Saddam they re staying at home. They re letting the Americans do the liberating. If the Americans want to liberate them, fine, let the Americans do it- but the Americans aren t doing very well at the moment. You see, we ve already got a situation down in Basra where the British army have admitted firing artillery into the city of Basra, and then winging on afterward talking about We're being fired at by soldiers hiding among civilians . Well, I m sorry; all soldiers defending cities are among civilians. But now the British are firing artillery shells into the heavily populated city of Basra. When the British were fired upon with mortars or with snipers from the cragg on the state or the bogside in Delhi and in Northern Ireland, they did not use artillery, but here, apparently, it is ok to use artillery on a crowded city. What on Earth is the British army doing in Iraq firing artillery into a city after invading the country? Is this really about weapons of mass destruction? Is this about al Qaeda? It s interesting that in the last few days, not a single reporter has mentioned September 11th. This is supposed to be about September 11th. This is supposed to be about the war on terror, but nobody calls it that anymore because deep down, nobody believes it is. So, what is it about? It s interesting that there are very few stories being written about oil. Robert Fisk continues, I look down from my balcony here next to the Tigris River- does that mean we're going to have an American tank on every intersection in Baghdad? What are they there for to occupy? To repress? To run an occupation force against the wishes of Iraqis? Or are they liberators? It s very interesting how the reporting has swung from one side to another. Are these liberating forces or occupying forces? Every time I hear a journalist say liberation , I know he means occupation. Tune in now for part three of our interview with journalist Robert Fisk. Guest: Robert Fisk, reporter in Baghdad with the London newspaper The Independent Links: for a transcript of the interview: for Fisk s articles in the Independent, see 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogueira, Elizabeth Press, with thanks to Noah Reibel. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.

Date Recorded on: 
March 25, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
March 25, 2003
Item duration: 
118 min.
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