Thursday, March 20, 2003

Watty should have gone to bed an hour ago...

Instead, here I sit, tired and full of annoying sniffly cold which has made me lethargic and irritable, and I've got a window open with a live image of a street in Baghdad, and I'm just staring at it.

I mean, part of the fascination is that such a thing is possible - - look, there goes another car, an Iraqi car, with at least one real Iraqi person in it, just driving around their city in the middle of the night. Frankly, it could be Bradford or Bristol in that picture, and I wouldn't know the difference. Except I would. Because there's some eerie sense of something not quite right about the whole thing. Every so often, there's a faint sound, like distant thunder - it might very well be distant thunder, I see no other indication of any military activity; perhaps I'm imagining it; perhaps it's just another truck passing, nearby but out of sight. It certainly doesn't feel like I'm at war with this street, or that it's at war with me.

I think that what strikes me tonight is that for the first time in my life, I cannot understand the position of those who want to take up arms. As a child, I was used to the irregular bombings and shootings - never close enough to directly affect me, of course, but nevertheless, happening in my country - and I could see why people wanted to fight back. I could also, if I squinted a bit, see why the bombers felt their methods were necessary. When this country went to 'war' over pretty much nothing at all 21 years ago, I could see why it seemed so important; I could understand the motives on both sides, and there was a spark of sympathy in me for the position the British government found itself in; easy for me, a pampered child of a postwar generation, to sneer at military posturing, but what else, realistically, could have been done? The same impulse applied in 1991 - you can't just stand aside and let countries be overrun by dictators; but what seemed sadly inevitable then seems faintly absurd now - we've spent 11 years starving these people, now let's drop some bombs on them. I know that's a simplistic view, but what can be more simplistic than several tons of metal and high explosive raining on your head?

Like I keep saying, there had better actually be some weapons of mass destruction hidden away somewhere, and they had better not be reluctantly dragged out and used as some desparate last resort.

Well, goodnight, Baghdad. I hope that street's still there in the morning, and I hope that, having got this far, some kind of swift resolution can be found. But it's a pretty faint hope, and I'm not holding my breath.

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