Yesterday’s Channel 4 News had a particularly good report on an Iraqi writer struggling to establish a museum that will help ensure Iraqis remember Saddam Hussein’s regime. He’s built a considerable archive, including film of surgical torture. The Channel 4 News report included footage of amputations – the severed body parts placed on a green cloth for the camera – and the reaction of a victim as he was woken to discover what’s missing. Obviously, most of this can’t be shown on primetime TV, but we also had interviews with a man whose ear had been cut off to mark him out as a traitor and another who’d been through a botched castration.
All of which demonstrates the war’s done some good, even though both victims interviewed said the Abu Ghraib pictures convinced them the US was little better. Abu Ghraib dispelled the myth of moral superiority and has been an incredible boost for opponents of Iraqi democracy.
The lunchtime bulletin had a more jokey piece, with a graphologist analysing this sample of Bush’s handwriting, which is exactly the right tone for this bit of nonsense. Iraq is sovereign, says Condi. Scrawled notes between the president and his national security advisor are not habitually published. This scrap of paper is Bush’s bid for the history books; a crude attempt to build some kind of mythology around his presidency. Yet it plays only to his loyal fans and makes the war look like nothing more than an opportunity for macho posturing. Instead, Bush should fund that museum.