PEOPLE AND PLACES

PEOPLE AND PLACES

Saturday, November 23, 2019





The Marine Medical Corpsman at the Battle of Baghdad Airport, my nephew Jason Lee

 

 My little Jason no more. In the Battle of Baghdad U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force have been advancing on a second front to the southeast of the capital. Marines were involved in "difficult engagements" with Iraqi fighters including advances on foot and hand-to-hand combat. The Marines also faced Arab fighters from outside Iraq who joined the city's defenses, a battle that one officer said involved bayonet fighting. The Marines launched their attack from near Diwaniyah and south of Kut, destroying the Republican Guard's Baghdad Division. Along the way, the Marines routed a Republican Guard infantry division and a regular Iraqi army division. Causualty figures were suppressed by the media, international estimates are that hundreds died. Reports from Ft. Stewart, Georgia, about the overflow of 3rd Infanty Division wounded soldiers sleeping in tent cities when they needed medical treatment were never explained. There were too many wounded GIs from the Battle to fit in the Ft. Stewart Hospital

The Medic of the Battle in the Baghdad Airport

 As I write this in the early part of 2012, it is a safe assumption that most Americans carry a suspicion, however slight, toward the reasons that they were told the U.S. needed to invade Iraq back in 2003. It is simply not possible to explain the depths of the corruption that exist at the highest levels of government today. Those who have bought into the mainstream media’s portrayal of the American government as an institution who seeks the common good, they do well to recall the words of America’s own first national leader: 

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” (President George Washington)
With that quote as a backdrop, let us dig deeper into our original question: Why did the U.S. appear so eager to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq? And why did the U.S. begin hatching these war plans many months prior to the events of September 11?
After all, many other nations around the world have confirmed stockpiles of dangerous weapons. So why did the United States specifically target Iraq so soon after the Afghanistan invasion of 2001?
Did the U.S. have some other motivation for seeking international support to invade Iraq?


William R. Clark was among those who questioned the status quo answers and Washington’s stated motives regarding the invasion of Iraq. In his book, Petrodollar Warfare, Clark claims that the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not based upon “violence or terrorism, but something very different, yet not altogether surprising – declining economic power and depleting hydrocarbons.”
Clark’s work was heavily influenced by another author named F. William Engdahl and his book, The Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order.
According to research conducted by both Clark and Engdahl, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not exclusively motivated by Iraq’s connection to the terrorist groups who masterminded the 9/11 attacks. Nor was it out of concern for the safety of the American public or out of sympathy for the Iraqi people and their lack of freedom or democracy.
Instead, Clark and Engdahl both claimed that the U.S.-led invasion was inspired predominantly by Iraq’s public defiance of the petrodollar system
According to page 28 of Clark’s book:
“On September 24, 2000, Saddam Hussein allegedly “emerged from a meeting of his government and proclaimed that Iraq would soon transition its oil export transactions to the euro currency.”
Not long after this meeting, Saddam Hussein began preparing to make the switch from pricing his country’s oil exports in greenbacks to euros. As renegade and newsworthy as this action was on the part of Iraq, it was sparsely reported in the corporate-controlled media.
Clark comments on the limited media coverage on page 31 of his book:
“CNN ran a very short article on its website on October 30, 2000, but after this one-day news cycle, the issue of Iraq’s switch to a petroeuro essentially disappeared from all five of the corporate-owned media outlets.”
By 2002, Saddam had fully converted to a petroeuro – in essence, dumping the dollar.
On March 19, 2003, George W. Bush announced the commencement of a full scale invasion of Iraq.



A sixteen years ago, the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq on the premise that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Despite worldwide protest and a lack of UN authorization, 200,000 thousand troops deployed into Iraq in March of 2003, following massive airstrikes. The coalition faced minimal opposition, and Baghdad quickly fell. For years after President George W. Bush's "mission accomplished" speech, the war raged on, fueled by sectarian conflicts, al Qaeda insurgencies, outside agencies, and mismanagement of the occupation. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today's entry focuses on the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq, and the weeks immediately following.
Smoke covers Saddam Hussein's presidential palace compound during a massive US-led air raid on Baghdad, Iraq on March 21, 2003. Allied forces unleashed a devastating blitz on Baghdad, triggering giant fireballs and deafening explosions and sending huge mushroom clouds above the city center. Missiles slammed into the main palace complex of President Saddam Hussein on the bank of the Tigris River, and key government buildings.(Ramzi Haidar/AFP/Getty Images) 
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U.S. President George W. Bush, watched by Vice President Dick Cheney, speaks before signing a $355 billion military spending bill in the Rose Garden of the White House October 23, 2002. The bill gave the Pentagon a nearly $40 billion boost as it prepared for possible war with Iraq, the White House said. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque) # 
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Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, center, talks with elite Republican Guard officers in Baghdad, on March 1, 2003. Iraq began destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles Saturday as ordered by the United Nations and agreed with weapons inspectors on a timetable to dismantle the entire missile program, U.N. and Iraqi officials said. (AP Photo/INA) # 
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Iraqi soldiers march in the courtyard of the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, on February 16, 2003. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem) # 
5
Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council in this February 5, 2003 photo. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) # 
6
Protests against war in Iraq erupted around the world in March of 2003. This combination photo shows (from top left) large demonstrations in Madrid, New York, Jakarta, Calcutta, Rome, (2nd row) London, Berlin, Marseille, San Francisco, and Montevideo. (Credit, in same order: Reuters, AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, Reuters/Pipit Prahara, Reuters/Sucheta Das, Reuters/Giampiero Sposito, Reuters/Peter Macdiarmid, AP Photo/Franka Bruns, AP Photo/Claude Paris, AP Photo/Noah Berger, and AP Photo/Marcelo Hernandez) # 
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British Royal Air Force personnel wait in a bunker wearing full Nuclear Biological and Chemical suits after a warning of a Scud missile attack on their base in Kuwait March 20, 2003. (Reuters/Russell Boyce) # 
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U.S. President George W. Bush announced the start of war between the United States and Iraq during a televised address from the Oval Office, on March 19, 2003. The United States said it had began its war against Iraq just minutes after several explosions were heard over Baghdad. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque) # 
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US Marines from the 2nd battalion/8 MAR, prepare themselves after receiving orders to cross the Iraqi border at Camp Shoup, northern Kuwait, on March 20, 2003. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images) # 
An explosion rocks Baghdad during air strikes on March 21, 2003. The attacks far exceeded strikes that launched the war the previous day, Reuters correspondents said. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) # 
An assault convoy of trucks and armored vehicles of the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team prepare to cross into Iraq, on March 21, 2003. (Reuters/US Army/Robert Woodward) # 
An aviation ordnance man observes rows of bombs on the hangar bay of the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier in the northern Gulf, on March 30, 2003. The carriers airwing flew 104 total sorties over Iraq on March 29, and dropped bombs on targets including air defense sites, a train loaded with tanks and a surface-to-air missile site. (Reuters/Paul Hanna) # 
A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber returns from a mission over Iraq, after refueling from a KC-10 plane over the Black Sea, on March 28, 2003.(AP Photo/Jockel Finck) # 
Palls of black smoke from raging oil fires billow over Baghdad, on March 27, 2003. The oil-filled trenches were set off by Iraqis to try and block the visibility of U.S. warplanes and missiles. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) # 
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division rest in foxholes by their convoy in a staging area in the Kuwaiti desert, on, March 21, 2003. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju) # 
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf reads a message to the Iraqi people from President Saddam Hussein broadcast on Iraqi television, April 1, 2003. In the message Saddam said that jihad was a religious duty and he urged the Iraqi people to fight invading U.S. and British troops wherever they found them. (Reuters/Iraqi television) # 
An Iraqi officer is held by US Marines with India Company 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division following a gunfight at the headquarters of the Iraqi 51st and 32nd mechanized infantry divisions near Az Bayer, Iraq on March 21, 2003. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch) # 
Coalition forces commander U.S. Army General Tommy Franks tells reporters that the military campaign is on track during a press conference in the media center at Camp As Sayliyah, outside Doha, Qatar, on March 30, 2003. (Reuters/Tim Aubry) # 
Iraqi soldiers stand together with their arms raised, silhouetted against a sky covered with black smoke as they surrender to U.S. Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in southern Iraq, on March 21, 2003. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) # 
British Household Cavalry Scimitar tanks drive past burning oil wells in Southern Iraq, on March 20, 2003. (Reuters) # 
U.S. Marine Lt. Ben Reid from 1/2 Charlie Company of Task Force Tarawa waits to be medivaced after being hit with shrapnel and a machine gun round, in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, on March 23, 2003. The Marines suffered a number of deaths and casualties during gun battles throughout the city. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) # 
Iraqi civilians scream for help as they are caught in the crossfire while marines from the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit Fox Company "Raiders" push into southern Iraq to take control of the main port of Umm Qasr on March 21, 2003. (Reuters/Desmond Boylan) # 
U.S. Marines from the 15 Marine Expeditionary Unit fire a shoulder-launched Javelin missile during a battle with Iraqi troops at the port in Umm Qasr, Iraq, on March 23, 2003. (AP Photo/Simon Walker, The London Times) # 
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, return fire after coming upon a mortar attack during an orange sandstorm on a road south of Baghdad, on March 26, 2003. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch) # 
Ray Jacques reads the San Francisco Chronicle's war special section inside a Starbucks coffee shop in San Francisco, in this March 20, 2003 photo. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) # 
A statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, at his palace, damaged during a U.S. led air strike in Baghdad, on March 23, 2003.(Reuters/Faleh Kheiber) # 
Lit by Hummvee headlights, a soldier from the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division guards Iraqis who were intercepted during dust storm on the perimeter of the division's forward base in south Central Iraq, on March 26, 2003. (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju) # 
Two Iraqi children look through their window in New Baghdad, a suburb of Baghdad, on March 24, 2003. Oil fires burned across the city as a defense against incoming US missiles and bombs. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) # 
A U.S. Army combat engineer enjoys a cigarette as he relaxes between the cities of Najaf and Karbala as another sandstorm turned the daylight orange, on March 26, 2003. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach) # 
A body of Iraqi man lies by the road side north of Al Nassiriyah, on March 25, 2003. More than 30 men of military age were killed on the key northern highway by an apparent U.S. air strike on the vehicles carrying the Iraqis. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj) # 
A British Warrior armored combat vehicle knocks over a picture of Saddam Hussein in the city of Basra, in southern Iraq, on March 24, 2003. (Reuters/Mark Richards) # 
In this image from video seen on Iraqi television on March 27, 2003, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein meets with high-ranking Ba'ath party officials. (AP Photo/Iraqi TV via APTN) # 
An Iraqi soldier fires his AK-47 rifle into reeds on the banks of the Tigris river in Baghdad, on March 23, 2003 after reports that U.S. or British pilots may have ejected over the city. Television reports showed Iraqi soldiers shooting into the Tigris river and in boats, apparently searching the water for pilots. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) # 
U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman HM1 Richard Barnett, assigned to the 1st Marine Division, holds an Iraqi child in central Iraq, on March 29, 2003. Confused front line crossfire ripped apart an Iraqi family after local soldiers appeared to force civilians towards positions held by U.S. Marines. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj) # 
A U.S. Army soldier atop a Humvee armed with a heavy machine gun secures an area by a burning oil well in Iraq's vast southern Rumaila oilfields, on March 30, 2003. U.S. engineers moved through the oilfields on Sunday shutting down wellheads in an operation that could take months to complete. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) # 
U.S. Marines from Lima Company, a part of a 7-th Marine Regiment, walk in front of the Martyrs Monument, during an operation to secure securing the center of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. (Reuters/Oleg Popov) # 
A wounded Iraqi girl is treated by U.S. marines in central Iraq, on March 29, 2003. The four-year old girl, blood streaming from an eye wound, was screaming for her dead mother, while her father, shot in a leg, begged to be freed from the plastic wrist cuffs slapped on him by U.S. marines, so he could hug his other terrified daughter. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj) # 
Smoke billows from a building hit during coalition forces air raid in Baghdad, on Monday March 31, 2003. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) # 
An Iraqi man comforts his 4-year-old son at a regroupment center for POWs of the 101st Airborne Division near An Najaf, Iraq in this March 31, 2003 photo. The man was seized in An Najaf with his son and the U.S. military did not want to separate father and son.(AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju) # 
The inside of the Sheraton Hotel, scene of alleged looting, in Basra, southern Iraq, on April 8, 2003. (Reuters/Simon Walker) # 
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speaks to the press at a Pentagon briefing in Washington, April 9, 2003. Rumsfeld praised the progress of American-led forces fighting in Iraq but warned the fighting would continue and the military still needed to account for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) # 
Kuwaiti firefighters secure a burning oil well in the Rumaila oilfields, on March 27, 2003, set ablaze by Iraqi military forces.(USMC/Mary Rose Xenikakis) # 
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The charred remains of dead Iraqi soldiers lay outside a bus hit by a U.S. tank shell on a highway between Baghdad's international airport and the city center, on April 7, 2003. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach) # 
The damaged "Al Mansur", Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's private yacht, anchored in central Basra, on April 10, 2003.(Reuters/Simon Walker) # 
Six-year-old Tyler Jordan is hugged by his mother Amanda while U.S. Army Chaplain Captain David Nott looks on during the funeral of the boy's father, United States Marine Gunnery Sgt. Philip Jordan, at Holy Family Church in Enfield, Connecticut, on April 2, 2003. Sgt. Jordan was killed during fighting outside Nasiriyah on March 23 in the early days of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. (Reuters/Chip East) # 
A U.S. Marine covers the face of a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with a U.S. flag in Baghdad, on April 9, 2003. U.S. troops briefly draped an American flag over the face of a giant statue of Hussein, as they prepared to topple it in front of a crowd of Iraqis.(Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) # 
Iraqi Kurds wave banners and U.S. and British flags in the northern Iraqi town of Dohuk, on April 9, 2003, to celebrate the arrival of U.S. led coalition forces' in Baghdad. Iraqi Kurds shouted for joy and fired in the air on Wednesday after U.S. forces entered Baghdad. "It's all over in Baghdad," said 29-year-old Rafiq Baway, who heard the news on satellite TV in the city of Sulaimaniya. He believed it would lead to the fall of Kirkuk, the northern oil hub where Kurds accuse Saddam of expelling Kurdish inhabitants and replacing them with Arabs.(Reuters) # 
U.S. Marine helicopters patrol the skies over Baghdad, on April 13, 2003. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich) # 
President Bush gives a thumbs-up sign after declaring the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, on May 1, 2003. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) # 

Smoke from burning oil fires set ablaze by Iraqis as a shield against incoming missiles and air raids obscures Baghdad, on April 1, 2003.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
The soldiers of the family, beginning with my granduncle Gen. Gregorio del Pilar.





The death of Del Pilar is something more than a soldier's death. It was the sublime protest of a patriot against the decree of adverse fate. He had yearned for death when he saw that all was lost for the Republic. He had wished for it when long before the battle of Tirad, he proposed to meet the pursuing enemy after the disaster at Caloocan. He felt its obsession when at midnight on the bank of the river at Aringay he woke up his soldiers and pointedly asked them this question: "Brothers, which do you prefer, to die fighting or to flee like cowards?


From morning till noon he repelled charge after charge, he tenaciously held on with his handful of men through the heat and agony of battle, till he himself fell dead among his slain soldiers. And well chosen and most fitting was the place where he offered the sacrifice of his life. It was on the mountain summit, overlooking the plains and the shores of his country, a massive and tremendous altar, built as it were for Titans, caressed by the rolling clouds of morning, lighted by the stars of dusk.


Gregorio Del Pilar ( PHOTO, ABOVE) was born in San Jose, Bulacan, on Nov 14, 1875 to an illustrious ilustrado (middle class) family. In his early years, he aided his uncle, Marcelo H. del Pilar, in distributing his anti-friar writings. He was a member of the revolutionary forces in Bulacan even when he was studying at theAteneo de Municipal. When the revolution broke out on Aug 30, 1896, he joined the forces of Heneral Dimabunggo (Eusebio Roque). In the battle at Kakarong de Sili, Pandi, Bulacan, on Jan 1, 1897, he almost lost his life.



General Gregorio del Pilar (front, dark trousers) and Filipino army officers in 1898 photo

The Dec 14, 1897 Truce of Biyak-na-Bato temporarily halted the revolution. Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo brought Del Pilar to Hong Kong (LEFT, photo taken in Hong Kong in early 1898). On May, 19, 1898, Aguinaldo and the other exiles returned to the country and renewed the revolution.

Del Pilar was promoted to general either in June or July 1898 at the age of 22. (He was the second youngest general in the Philippine army, after General Manuel Tinio). He besieged the town of Bulacan and forced the colonial forces there to capitulate on or about June 30, 1898.

The Filipino-American War found Gen. Del Pilar in the frontlines once again. In the April 23, 1899, battle at Quingua (now Plaridel, Bulacan), he nearly defeated Major (later Brig. Gen.) James Franklin Bell; the cavalry commander, Col. John Stotsenburg, was killed.
Toward the latter part of May 1899, with the Philippine army reeling in the face of unrelenting American offensives, President Emilio Aguinaldo created a peace commission to negotiate an armistice. He appointed Del Pilar to head the Filipino panel. For two days, on May 22 and 23, the Filipinos conferred with the Schurman Commission. The talks failed, owing to the Americans' insistence that US sovereignty was non-negotiable. In addition, the Filipino army had to surrender unconditionally. [RIGHT, photo of General Del Pilar taken on May 22-23, 1899 in Manila].


Mt. Tirad at Concepcion, Ilocos Sur Province. PHOTO was taken in the early 1900s.

Tasked to delay US troops pursuing President Aguinaldo, Del Pilar and 60 of his men formed a blocking force at 4,500-foot (1,372 m) Tirad Pass, Concepcion, Ilocos Sur Province (Concepcion was renamed "Gregorio del Pilar" on June 10, 1955). They constructed several sets of trenches and stone barricades, all of which dominated the narrow trail that zigzagged up towards the pass.

On Dec. 2, 1899, Major Peyton Conway March (LEFT, as First Lt. in 1896-1898) led 300 soldiers of the 33rd Infantry Regiment of U.S. Volunteers, up the pass. A Tingguian Igorot, Januario Galut, led the Americans up a trail by which they could emerge to the rear of the Filipinos. Del Pilar died in the battle, along with 52 subordinates. The Americans lost 2 men killed.

The Americans looted the corpse of the fallen general. They got his pistol, diary and personal papers, boots and silver spurs, coat and pants, a lady's handkerchief with the name "Dolores Jose," his sweetheart, diamond rings, gold watch, shoulder straps, and a gold locket containing a woman's hair.

Del Pilar's body was left by the roadside for two days until its odor forced some Igorots to cover it with dirt.


On his diary, which Major March found, Del Pilar had written: "The General [ Aguinaldo ] has given me the pick of all the men that can be spared and ordered me to defend the Pass. I realize what a terrible task has been given me. And yet, I felt that this is the most glorious moment of my life. What I do is done for my beloved country. No sacrifice can be too great."



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