Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Perspective: Why bombs still rain down on Dora

An Iraqi poses with the remnants of a U.S. missile in Dora in 2003.

Almost every night in Baghdad, American artillery units blast shells the size of engine blocks into the date and citrus orchards of Dora Farms, targeting insurgent mortar teams. The concussion of the big guns can be felt even in the Green Zone, which lies nearly two miles away as a Blackhawk flies. U.S. warplanes regularly bomb the area; M1-A1 Abrams tanks hover at its edges and fire away with their deadly 120mm cannons at insurgents burying IEDs in the road. Some evenings, the sky over this part of southern Baghdad glows orange.

The carnage in Dora Farms commenced on a night four years ago this week—a night on which, some Pentagon planners hoped, the war in Iraq might both begin and end. On March 19, 2003, a pair of 2,000-pound bombs landed in Dora Farms, on the south bank of the Tigris River, just across from downtown Baghdad. A CIA informant had said Saddam would be sleeping in an underground bunker there. The "decapitation strike," as it was called, was aimed at achieving George W. Bush's main goal before the formal invasion even got underway. But Saddam escaped, and the war that began that night never really ended.

That Dora Farms is still being bombed by Americans four years later—though for very different reasons—is an inescapable symbol of how much has gone wrong in Iraq.

Read the rest at Newsweek