I just read an excerpt from Peter Baker’s new book, “Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. It’s being touted as the most comprehensive account of the Bush-Cheney years, at least until historical archives are opened to the public.
What’s clear from the book is that Cheney was a major driver of the Iraq War. And a senior administration official is quoted as saying that America was looking for a fight, looking to kick someone’s ass.
So the Iraqi people paid the price.
I am looking forward to reading Baker’s book. I met him in Baghdad in 2002, when he was with the Washington Post and I was with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That was four months before the invasion and all foreign journalists were made to stay at the Al-Rashid Hotel — the one that had a mosaic of Papa Bush’s face on the entrance floor. You couldn’t enter the hotel without stepping on the presidential mug.
I read about Baker’s book today along with the latest media reports of more bloodshed. At least 43 people were killed Sunday. Dozens more were wounded.
A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded coffee shop in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in southwest Baghdad, not too far from where I was in March when I was last in the Iraqi capital. Many of the victims were young men gathering to drink tea, smoke hookah and play games, officials told CNN.
Earlier, in mainly Sunni Anbar province, three attacks killed six people.
At least 350 people have been killed in October.
Take a look at these numbers compiled by the United Nations mission in Iraq. They are nothing short of shocking:
September: 887 killed; 1957 injured
August 2013: 716 killed; 1936 injured
July: 928 killed; 2109 injured
June: 685 killed; 1610 injured
May: 963 killed; 2191 injured
April: 595 killed; 1481 injured
March: 229 killed; 853 injured
February: 418 killed; 704 injured
January: 319 killed; 960 injured
Adding to the horror is a new survey that estimates the civilian death toll of the war to be much higher than believed — 500,000.
Yet Iraq is but a blip on the news. Iraqis are not a part of the global conscience, at least, certainly not a part of the American conscience.
My heart bleeds for Iraq. I think about friends I made there; how so many of them lead lives marred by hatred. It’s difficult to read about daily death and destruction now, more than 10 years after Bush and Cheney made the decision to attack.
Few American news outlets are covering events in Iraq the way they should be, I believe. It’s a mistake not to focus attention on the bloodshed. Terrible to ignore tragedy, worse to forget.
You can read my last story from Baghdad on CNN.