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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Remembering Anniversaries

Last weekend marked the two-year anniversary of the Iraq war protests. Surely you remember the millions of people who came out all over the world to protest a war that hadn't yet started?

The New York Times called these people the "second superpower" and many people opposed to the coming war (like me) hoped they could balance the uncontested military power of the US.

They couldn't.

This week also marks anothers Iraq-related anniversary. It is the 14th year since the US pushed the Iraq military out of Kuwait.

But the military did so much more in that short ground war.

This troubling story originally appeared in Newsday, in a piece reported by Patrick J. Sloyan:
Leon Daniel, like others who reported from Vietnam during the 1960s, knew about war and death. So he was puzzled by the lack of corpses at the tip of the Neutral Zone between Saudi Arabia and Iraq on Feb. 25, 1991. Clearly there had been plenty of killing. The 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) had smashed through the defensive front line of Saddam Hussein's army the day before, Feb. 24, the opening of the Desert Storm ground war to retake Kuwait. Daniel, representing United Press International, was part of a press pool held back from witnessing the assault on 8,000 Iraqi defenders. "They wouldn't let us see anything," said Daniel, who had seen about everything as a combat correspondent....

It wasn't until late in the afternoon of Feb. 25 that the press pool was permitted to see where the attack occurred. There were groups of Iraqi prisoners. About 2,000 had surrendered. But there were no bodies, no stench of feces, no blood stains, no bits of human beings....

Finally, Daniel found the division public affairs officer, an Army major. "Where the hell are all the bodies?" Daniel said. "What bodies?" the officer replied. Daniel and the rest of the world would not find out until months later why the dead had vanished. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers, some of them alive and firing their weapons from World War I-style trenches, were buried by plows mounted on Abrams battle tanks. The Abrams flanked the trench lines so that tons of sand from the plows funneled into the trenches. Just behind the tanks, actually straddling the trench line, came Bradleys pumping 7.62mm machine gun bullets into the Iraqi troops....

I came through right after the lead company," said Army Col. Anthony Moreno, who commanded the lead brigade during the 1st Mech's assault. "What you saw was a bunch of buried trenches with people's arms and land things sticking out of them. For all I know, we could have killed thousands."

...Col. Moreno estimated more than 70 miles of trenches and earthen bunkers were attacked, filled in and smoothed over on Feb. 24-25.
Sometimes, I wonder if any of these trenches are among the mass graves found in Iraq...and attributed to the dirty work of Saddam Hussein.

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