Do you get a bad feeling when you see a Tesco lorry pulling up to make
a delivery at your house? Do you get an over-riding sense of foreboding
every time you overtake a truck on the M1 motorway? Does being in the
same layby as a Heavy Goods Vehicle license holder make you nervous?
That's probably because you think truckers are trying to make an honest
living. Perhaps you've seen them driving with caution, stopping at pedestrian
crossings. May be you even saw one making a delivery. You might even have
come to the conclusion that they are no more or less law abiding than
you or I.
But you'd be wrong. Because the newspaper reports from Iraq keep reminding
us that Iraqi truckers are sectarian suicide bombers.
But does this ring true?
What does history tell us about truckers and sectarian violence?
Did Irish truckers, for example, take to blowing up their trailers during
troubles in Northern Ireland?
I don't think so.
Do you think Iraqi truckers are so different?
These people ARE indeed desperate - desperate for work, desperate for
security, desperate for water and electricity - but surely not desperate
to leave their families without a father.
"Call me", says the new boss. "Take this mobile phone.
Ring me when you get there. God's speed".
And so the new recruit takes the phone, climbs in the cab and drives a
ready-loaded truck away.
Little does he know the mobile phone is a remote
control which will trigger high explosives loaded under or behind
And, due to the almost complete lack of independent reporting from Iraq,
we'll never know who came up with the idea.
But, what of the facts as we know them?
We do know that James Steele is the US
advisor on counterinsurgency in Iraq. His CV includes leading a special
forces mission in El Salvador where he and others acted as trainers and
advisors to the military junta. Over 10 years of civil
war, the regime's armed forces and death squads murdered and tortured
thousands of civilians, collectively
punishing villagers suspected of sympathising with the 'rebels'. They
also enjoyed $7 billion in military aid from the US.
Is the much hyped 'sectarian' violence in Iraq being similarly stoked
and orchestrated. Muqtada al Sadr seems
to think so...
But all I can recommend is that we ourselves ask the difficult questions
that our own media refuses to ask.
'Divide and Rule'
has been a successful strategy of conquerors as far back as the Romans.
Wouldn't it be surprising if the coalition weren't using this strategy
in Iraq today?
And wouldn't the tactic of bombing holy Shrines, dividing up Baghdad with
walls, and sending truck bombs into public places be the kind of things
which could easily create distance between communities, or provoke anger,
outrage and mistrust? Is this not also a form of collective punishment?