Monday, April 14
Who was it good for?

The war in Iraq has been a predictably grim business, full of death, destruction and now rampant looting. But it hasn't been miserable for everyone. Sally Weale finds some unlikely winners in the conflict
The Guardian, April 15, 2003


There may have been far too many of them, filling too many hours of rolling 24-hour news with too little insight, but the BBC's Mark Urban, Newsnight's diplomatic editor, has been one of the few people to have consistently shed light on events unfolding in Iraq. With his peaked eyebrows, satanic good looks and suave presentation, Urban may have been a little too gleeful for some tastes. But his daily wrap on BBC2's Newsnight has become essential viewing during the war, particularly among the military top brass.

Francis Tusa has also won a sizeable cult following with his dispatches on Sky News ...


Applications to Sandhurst will soar after Britain's telegenic young officers, with their posh accents and unruffled manner, excelled themselves on the telly as well as in the desert. Among those to single out: Colonel Chris Vernon, Group Captain Al Lockwood and Group Captain Jon Fynes. We'll miss 'em all.

Military hardware

The performance of the Challenger 2 tank was in some doubt after problems during pre- combat exercises, but it has emerged a winner. ... ... Then there's the helmet that saved Eric Walderman's life. The royal marine was hit four times by an Iraqi sniper, but lived to tell the tale thanks to his Kevlar composite helmet.


The BBC's Baghdad-based Rageh Omaar has been the media face of the war, even if his presentation is not to everyone's taste. His reports, breathy and emotional, have won him an enormous following, particularly among US housewives, where he has been dubbed the "Scud Stud" of the war, ahead of such home-grown talent as ABC's Richard Engel, who not only bears a passing resemblance to Prince Harry, but taught himself to speak Arabic. ...


In the Iraq mini-publishing boom, perhaps the most extraordinary success stories have been Milan Rai's War Plan Iraq, with its introduction by Noam Chomsky, and War on Iraq, the interview with former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter by William Rivers Pitt. After the inevitable Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab, these two small books are the two bestsellers on Amazon's Iraq list in the UK, with Dilip Hero's Iraq: A Report from the Inside, and Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge by Said Aburish not far behind.


French entrepreneur Tawfiq Mathlouthi launched his own Mecca Cola to make the most of a worldwide boycott by Muslims of US brands. And some shrewd collectors in Baghdad walked off with debris from Saddam's shattered statues and palaces and are now flogging them by the thousand on Ebay.


While the $100bn spoils of war are divided between the friends of the Bush administration - giants such as Halliburton, Bechtel and Fluor - in a ghastly feeding frenzy, ...
...[more ]
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