Iraq

The Eerie Prophecies of "Baghdad Bob"

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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-04-12222
Photo 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.