The Eerie Prophecies of "Baghdad Bob"

Very interesting contribution to the Iraq 10th anniversary chatter: The Atlantic reminds us of the matters on which the at-the-time derided, clownish and absurd Iraqi propaganda spokesman "Baghdad Bob" seems to have been proven correct:

In March of 2003, Saddam's Minister of Information was everybody's favorite inadvertent comedian. Sporting a kicky black beret and delightfully bombastic lexicon, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf appeared on TV daily to predict American failure and deny the Baghdad invasion--sometimes even as U.S. tanks appeared behind him...Sahaf became the subject of T-shirts, mugs, adoring websites, a pop song, and an action figure...

Marines in Saddams palace DM-SD-04-12222Photo credit: Lance Corporal Kevin C. Quihuis Jr. (USMC) / Foter.com / Public domain

But in retrospect....several of his more ludicrous predictions have since come true....

THE PREDICTION:

"The crook Rumsfeld said yesterday that they are hunting mass destruction weapons in Baghdad and Tikrit, and yesterday I replied to that cheap lie."

"I assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place."

THE REALITY

As a 2012 CIA study concluded definitively, Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction.....

THE PREDICTION

"They are trying to say that the Iraqi is easy to capture, in order to deceive the world that it is a picnic... One day, they [will] start facing bitter facts."

"The decisive battle is throughout Iraq. They do not know in what mud they are wading."....

THE PREDICTION

"How can you lay siege to a whole country? ...We are in our country, among our kith and kin. ...Faltering forces of infidels cannot just enter a country of 26 million people and lay besiege to them! They are the ones who will find themselves under siege."

"Are they not going to find themselves besieged by the people of the countryside which they have to cross in order to reach Baghdad? Civilians will be busy. The grassroots of the Ba'ath Party will be busy attacking them.

"The simple fact is this: they are foreigners inside a country which has rejected them. Therefore, these foreigners, wherever they go or travel, they will be rained down with bullets from everyone. Attacks by members of the resistance will only go up."

THE REALITY

Sahaf wasn't just right about the fact that Iraqis would reject American invasion. He was right about how. As predicted, troops were most vulnerable when in transit, especially from "the people of the countryside," thanks to improvised explosive devices (IEDs)...

THE PREDICTION

"The infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad."

THE REALITY

In 2003, this was probably Sahaf's most quoted line. It was so conveniently ludicrous, so patently untrue, that commentators didn't have to do any research or devote any column inches to disproving it.

A decade later, nobody jokes about military suicide....about 22 American vets committed suicide every day in 2010, the most recent year for which data was available. That's up from 18 per day in 2008.

So Sahaf was actually slightly wrong on this one. The United States really loses their servicemen and women to suicide not by the hundreds, but by the thousands. And not at the gates of Baghdad, but at home.

What I wrote at the start of the Iraq War a decade ago.

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  • Azathoth!!||

    Nothing? really?

  • Drake||

    I get it. This is sarcasm right?

  • Rich||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And in his eighth quatrain, he predicted, "W. Bush, this man is a war criminal, and we will see that he is brought to trial. Also, Donnie Darko will star in a movie about gay cowboys."

  • ||

    "In 1564, Nostradamus predicted the destruction of Earth in three terrifying waves. The first wave is here. My name is Cade Foster. These are my journals."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Why must you ruin everything with your obscure nerd quotes?

  • Almanian.!||

    It is who - and what - he is, Fist.

    I know in you heart you know this...

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's better than the ways he used to ruin everything.

  • ||

    Everything?!?

  • Counterfly||

    Except for lemon parties.

  • R C Dean||

    As predicted, troops were most vulnerable when in transit, especially from "the people of the countryside,"

    And, of course, not counting all the foreign fighters.

  • Jordan||

    My hatred for the War in Iraq burns with the passion of a thousand suns, but this is really reaching.

  • Brett L||

    OT: Looks like the guy who shot the Colorado Prison Commissioner is being harvested for his organs in TX.

  • ||

    I made a comment under the article about how decent of him was that he had an organ donor card on him... and all I got was two thumbs down. :(

  • RBS||

    Eh, that's Yahoo commentors for you.

  • Rasilio||

    I think my IQ just dropped 10 points from reading this drivel

    1) Contrary to what the CIA report said there actually were WMD's found in Iraq, just not very many of them regardless however there is no real question that the American military believed that they did exist at the time which means that the purpose behind the military operations was not in fact a lie, it was just a wild goose chase.

    2) And how many of those IED's came from "the people of the countryside" and the "Ba'ath Grassroots" vs foreign Al Quaeda fighters? While it is true that a good part of the Iraqi populace were unhappy with us being there the overwhelming majority were not actively involved in fighting against us. Once again, Baghdad Bob was wrong, not "eerily correct"

    3) He was not talking about US Servicemembers committing suicide, he was implying that Iraqi forces were slaughtering hundreds of American GI's as the futile attempt to take Baghdad went on.

  • Lyle||

    This. I can't believe Reason is pushing this bullshit. Then again a lot of Reason's articles are just propaganda devoid of facts or reason.

  • Almanian!||

    I know, rite? For a magazine called "Reason"....

    *looks knowingly at Reasonoids....*

  • JW||

    Ohmahgerd! I know! I can't believe that they're *still* not on the bandwagon for a pointless and destructive, 10-year old war that the US should have never been involved in to begin with!

    I mean, what the fucking fuck is wrong with them?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Pointless it was not.

  • JW||

    Tedious WAR BONUR is tedious.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Speaking of tedious...yawn.

  • JW||

    Don't worry, Cyto, I'm sure that one day you'll get your chance to kill someone outside your schoolmates and immediate family.

  • Zeb||

    So what was the point, then?

  • Rasilio||

    Actually the point is not that Reason does not support the war, the point is that somehow Doherty seems to agree that the extremely tortured logic required to make Baghdad Bob's "predictions" seem accurate are worth repeating.

    You can find plenty of perfectly logical reasons to oppose the war while still mocking this drivel, in fact even promoting this type of crap weakens any actual points you might have against the war because it destroys your credibility.

  • JW||

    Your beef is with The Atlantic, then.

    And the idea that any of the war hawks having any credibility re Iraq at this point in time, is what's truly laughable.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Thank You. I can't believe Reason is allowing asshat Doherty to write for it again. There are far more credible voices. POSTREL

  • Almanian!||

    Oh man, we're gonna need to hit the liquor store if this keeps up...

  • RBS||

    I love the "libertarians" who hate on Doherty, the one writer at reason who probably fits even the most hardcore libertarian's definition of libertarian. Of course, most of his haters are just closet neocons.

  • ||

    Most?!? All.

  • Counterfly||

    I hate him, but only because he references freaking Brian Dennehy in EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE.

  • Ska||

    What would Brian Boitano do, if he were here right now...

    I'm sure he'd make a post or two, that's what Brian Boitano would do.

  • JW||

    Closet?

  • Cytotoxic||

    When you can't attack the post, attack the poster.

  • ||

    That's a good description of your criticism.

  • Zeb||

    Doherty wrote like two sentences here.

  • PapayaSF||

    Indeed. Also note that Saddam made efforts (at times) to make it look like he did have WMDs: e.g. equipping some troops with atropine injectors. Did he think the US was going to use nerve gas?

    Also, his ex-Soviet advisors designed his WMD program to be concealable and deniable.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Doesn't Baghdad Bob work for the TSA as blogger Bob now?

  • Hugh Akston||

    THIS IS MY TURF FRANKENSTEIN

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Sorry I homesteaded this first.

  • Almanian.!||

    PWND

  • Jordan||

    Lulz. I forgot about that bootlicking piece of shit. "Procedures were followed"

  • Almanian.!||

    I always called Robert Gibbs "Baghdad Bob" when he was the Pres' Press Sec'y. How that dude could stand up there and spew the stupid was remarkable.

    Carney's not nearly so fun. Bring back Baghdad Bob, indeed.

  • Brett L||

    Baghdad Bob was more believable than Gibbs has ever been. Even when Bob was denying the US forces had arrived in Baghdad as an Abrams tank rolled past the window behind him, he was more credible than Gibbs saying the sky was blue on a clear day in July.

  • Almanian!||

    It's true because it's funny!

    "Dis is de line of death!"

    *tanks roll in - BB retreats a few hundred yards*

    "DIS...is de line of death!"

    I loved that guy.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I thought Baghdad Bob was the TSA's shit-spewing mouthpiece.

  • ||

    Maybe you could try some original material, Hugh.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Maybe I should try quotes from obscure shitty sci-fi shows.

  • ||

    Maybe you should, Hugh. Maybe you should.

  • ||

    Hey Hugh! Your mother's an ugly whore!

  • Lyle||

    The "people in the countryside" just knew how to setup IEDs? Or was that the foreigner interventionists just using the Iraqi countryside and the "people in the countryside".

    What a historically inaccurate article.

  • ||

    I find that suicide statistic rather implausible.

    22 suicides per day would come out to 8000 deaths per year. Which is more than the total number of US killed. Plus The US only deployed (peak) 165,000 troops in Iraq, most of whom weren't in combat roles.
    Granted there were rotations in and out, so the total number of US forces who served in Iraq might come to a few hundred thousand.
    Still, 8,000 per year for 3-4 years would add up to around 5-10% of everyone who was ever in Iraq. An insane number.

    Bsides this story totally contradicts that:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetw.....hs-in-2012

    The number of suicide deaths in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year

    That's less than 1 per day. Not 22.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The areas where Doherty and 'facts' intersect are purely incidental.

  • RBS||

    You do realize that all Brian did was post an excerpt from and article at The Atlanticright? Of course, actually reading anything instead of knee jerking would probably too difficult for your feeble little mind.

  • Obese American||

    So as long as it's in the Atlantic, no need to verify the facts?

  • Zeb||

    It's a fucking blog post. Have you never noticed that lots of blog posts are mostly just links with a brief comment?

  • ||

    I think the number is for all US veterans not just active duty.

    Of course, it turns out that 69% of those suicides are of vets 50 and over.
    Meaning, most of them never served in Iraq.

  • Almanian!||

    I think the 22 comes from the fact that when a soldier commits suicide, 21 AARP members die of old age.

  • R C Dean||

    My vague recollection is that active service in Iraq was not correlated with a higher risk of suicide than other servicemembers, and that servicemembers did not have a higher risk of suicide than a comparable civilian cohort.

  • Lyle||

    Brian Doherty was totally wrong about how shock and awe would kill a lot of Iraqis in Baghdad. Ha!

  • Brian Doherty||

    7300 civilian fatalities in 2003?
    See page 3
    http://www.brookings.edu/~/med.....saban/iraq index/index20100630.PDF

  • Lyle||

    Bullshit! You we're writing about that exact night.

    Shame on you man.

  • ||

    At least you make good enemies, Doherty.

  • Cytotoxic||

    That's it? Also, SF'd the link.

  • Lyle||

    And are you really making the argument that shock and awe lasted for all of 2003?

    Really?

  • Brian Doherty||

    War is a process that occurs over time. The phrase "tomorrow night" written a decade ago refers to the beginning of that war, not that the war, or all its damage, was going to occur in that first night. (Not that I'm even granting that "many" people didn't die in those first 24 hours, though as near as I can tell no one has any idea of that number).

  • ||

    There really isn't any point in responding to Lyle. He's gone full retard.

  • Lyle||

    That's not what your first sentence implies at all. You were solely talking about that night and you were wrong.

    Furthermore, shock and awe was over in a matter of days and the invasion was over in a matter of weeks. Saw all the 2003 civilian deaths you'e citing weren't the result of shock and awe or the invasion, but either the 3 week invasion or fighting that happened during the post-invasion occupation.

  • SaltySeaCaptain(LAOL)||

    Just more shit coming from Doherty. What a fucking Paultard.

  • Almanian!||

    There's a lot of Doherty hate here today.

    Just thought I'd note that - please return to your normal duties.

  • Jordan||

    Yeah, that Atlantic article is stupid, but all the Neocon butthurt here in the comments is even worse.

  • Brian Doherty||

    Page 15 of this VA report for that figure, which is an extrapolation from limited state-level data, not a raw count, and which is not just about Iraq vets. The Atlantic didn't say it was, and I didn't read it that way, though in fairness when that vet suicide figure appears in an Iraq context I understand why some might read it that way.

    http://www.va.gov/opa/docs/Sui.....-final.pdf

  • RBS||

    Don't let the illiterati get to you.

  • ||

    It's stated in a misleading way because the writer is trying to be snarky.

    Which is some indication of the value of the piece itself, not to mention the writer.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    WHY HAVEN'T WE ENGAGED IN A SLAUGHTER OF BIBLICAL PROPORTION IN IRAQ? WHY HAVE WE LEFT ANYONE ALIVE? THEY WALKED ON A TILE MOSAIC OF OUR PRESIDENT. THEY'RE ANIMALS!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "WHY HAVEN'T WE ENGAGED IN A SLAUGHTER OF BIBLICAL PROPORTION"

    I am more of the "build a pyramid of human skulls" school, myself.

  • MJGreen||

    They threw a SHOE at OUR PRESIDENT!

    This aggression will not stand, man!

  • Xenocles||

  • Paul.||

    The proplem with Baghdad Bob is that he was wrong about who the resistance would be. He implied that the resistance would be regime loyalists who would fight back the American invaders.

    In fact, it was most likely regime loyalists who quickly sided with the Americans, became the newly American-trained forces, started back up as high-level government functionaries, where the resistance fighters ended up being the very people who hated Saddam, and in fact, came in from other surrounding Arab nations to take up Jihad because the Americans represented the very thing they didn't want: A "democratic" secular society that didn't adequately represent Islam.

  • ||

    The regime loyalists did fight for a while, but they were mostly gone by 2005. After that it was jihadists, various bandits and kidnappers doing it for the money, and Sadrists.
    Then the Sadrists and jihadists started fighting eachother.

  • Cytotoxic||

    At first, the Baathist elements were very important for the money and shadow-activities they did for the insurgency. As time went on they became less important and more dead.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    most of his haters are just closet neocons.

    I just hate him because he's a shitty writer.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    But I've been out of college for thirty years, so I'm like functionally illiterate.

  • Bedonkedonk||

    Jesus.
    Reason, Brian, and The Atlantic apparently decided to have an orgy and lay this giant troika of an egg.

    The time spent reading the comments section (always the best part of the Reason Magazine site) was desperately needed to balance out the time wasted by reading this jizz stain of an article.

    You seriously need to up your game before you come back here, Brian.

  • Zeb||

    It's not an article, it's an excerpt from someone else's article. Do you not understand what a block quote is?

  • Bedonkedonk||

    Do you not understand what the phrase "splitting hairs" means?

  • Knutsack||

    So Doherty describes a stupid article at The Atlantic as "interesting"?

  • Xenocles||

    I have to take issue with the characterization of the resistance/insurgent effort. "Bob" was speaking there as if there were two parties to the conflict - the Saddam government and the US-led invasion. There were at least three (more likely innumerably more than that many) parties - the Saddam government (before it toppled) the US-led invasion and occupation with the official replacement government, and the insurgency, with its various member groups. Most of the resistance that sprang up wasn't trying to restore the Ba'athists, they were trying to put themselves in power.

    So he was wrong. His country wanted him out along with the government he represented. It's just that they wanted the US out too.

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