The Second Gulf War 20034 Welcome to the republic of darkness and unemployment

Not surprisingly, the second, even more savage onslaught of aerial bombing that Iraq was subjected to in 2003—organized as it was after 12 years of systematic demodernization and impoverization through sanctions and continued bombing—led to an even more complete demodernization of everyday urban life in the country. This has occurred even though key centralized infrastructure nodes were targeted less extensively than in 1991. This time, the bombing strategy was ostensibly designed to "avoid power plants, public water facilities, refineries, bridges, and other civilian structures" (Human Rights Watch

2003). But new weapons, including electromagnetic pulse (EMP) cruise missiles, were used for the first time to comprehensively "fry" "dual-use" communications and control equipment (Smith 2003; Kopp 1996).

Nevertheless, dual-use systems such as electrical and power transmission grids, media networks, and telecommunications infrastructures were still substantially targeted and destroyed. Media installations and antennae were destroyed by new CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapons—non-explosive cluster bombs, which rain metal rods onto sensitive electrical systems that are nicknamed "rods from God" by the US Air Force (Human Rights Watch 2003:3). In addition, more traditional bombs were used to destroy Al-Jazeera's office in Baghdad on 8 April, killing several journalists (Tahboub 2003). This was because the Pentagon considered the highly successful, independent channel's coverage of the dead civilians that resulted from the bombing was undermining its propaganda (or PSYOPS) campaign aimed at asserting information dominance (Miller

2004). As Miller suggests, in current US geopolitical strategy, "the collapse of distinctions between independent news media and psychological operations is striking" (Miller 2004:24).

Finally, as in 1991, carbon "soft" bombs were once again widely used on electricity distribution systems. The resulting fires completely ruined many newly repaired transformer stations, creating, once again, a serious crisis of water distribution because of the resulting power blackouts (Human Rights Watch 2003:3). The resulting supply crises, and the inability of the US Occupying Authorities to bring back reliable power sources, severely exacerbated Iraq's slide into violence, resistance and looting after the formal "end" to the war was declared by George W.Bush in May 2003. Citing a piece of Baghdad graffiti, Salam Pax (2003), the famous web blogger, noted that Iraq had emerged, by mid August, as a "republic of darkness and unemployment". Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch researchers found in al-Nasiriya that "in many places people had dug up water and sewage pipes outside their homes in a vain attempt to get drinking water". Not surprisingly, large numbers of waterborne intestinal infections were reported after the formal end of the invasion part of the war, a direct result of the targeting of electrical distribution systems (Enders 2003).

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