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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

Regrets –he’s had a few…

by Lily Hamourtziadou

7 Dec 2008

December did not start well in Iraq. Over 200 civilians were killed or found dead in the first week. Among them were 17 children.

It was a week of suicide bombers (one of them a child himself), mass graves and landmines. In Mosul, gunmen killed 2 school teachers on Monday and 2 men running a liquor store on Sunday. Other victims include policemen, Sahwa members, a man resisting arrest, shoppers, café diners and the mayor of Baquba.

In a way, this week was not unlike any other week in Iraq. All the elements were there: the terror, the shootings, the innocent victims caught in violence as they went about their jobs, as they went about their lives.

Meanwhile in America departing president George W. Bush ‘has embarked on a valedictory tour, touting his record in television interviews and public appearances while admitting, with some hesitation, that things did not always go as planned’ (Washington Post, 6 December).

He was, he admitted, ‘unprepared for war’ when he entered office and his ‘biggest regret’ was the failure of intelligence leading up to the Iraq invasion.

There was no mention of the lives lost, as a result. That should have been his biggest regret: the innocent lives cut short. The devastation of a whole state. The terrorism generated that continues to this day, years later. The 203 civilians killed this week.

But no, president Bush would not speak of those. He spoke of his ‘principles’ though.
‘The thing that's important for me is to get home and look in that mirror and say, “I did not compromise my principles,”' Bush said in an interview with ABC News. ‘And I didn't. I made tough calls. And some presidencies have got a lot of tough decisions to make.’

Only his principles –whatever those were- did not include the protection of civilian lives or the respect for the human rights of others. His principles did not require any self-sacrifice, but only demanded the sacrifice of others. What principles are those? The principle of self-interest? Or perhaps the principle of disrespect? Or the principle of aggression?

The war in Iraq ‘has been longer and more costly than expected,’ he said. He neglected to add that the biggest cost has been in human life. His ‘compassionate conservatism’ did not extend that far. It is all right to talk about money, strategy, intelligence and ‘principles.’ But let us leave out any talk of bombs and blood. Of dead Iraqi children.

They don’t make for a good valedictory speech.