4 February 2004

Iraq could mark this century

By Tapani Lausti

Tariq Ali, Bush in Babylon : The Recolonisation of Iraq. Verso 2003.

The reasons given for the US/UK attack against Iraq and the subsequent fantasist tales to explain away the resistance to the occupation has stretched political language to breaking point. George W. Bush and Tony Blair stand exposed as historical samples of deceitful politicians. Their credibility is in shatters.

The fact that Bush wanted a war whatever the facts were and that Blair did not want to consider options other than joining the war, seems now to be clear to most citizens of the world. As the British columnist Jonathan Freedland concluded, "Tony Blair would have to confess that he has poorer judgment of military and international affairs than the majority of the British public, who told pollsters for months that they did not consider Saddam an immediate threat." (Last of the believers, The Guardian, 28 January 2004)

We don't know how events in Iraq will unravel. In his latest book, Tariq Ali writes that "[w]hatever happens in Iraq over the next five years, the consequences of this occupation will mark this century". (p. 34) Iraq has, indeed, been seen in this historic light also by Bush Sr, Bush Jr and Blair. In 1991 father Bush "confidently asserted that the demonstration of military power would curb other acts of aggression in the future". George W. has been talking about bringing democracy to the whole region, meaning, of course, US domination, and Blair, on his part, explained after the 2003 war that "one major reason for the war was to make future wars unnecessary". (p. 137) So the delusions and pretensions go on.

US and UK leaders have pretended all along that the welfare of the Iraqi people is what drives their policy. In fact, Iraq's inhabitants have suffered immensely because of Western actions. The CIA helped Saddam Hussein to power and remained friends with him even during his most horrific atrocities against his own people. All this is well known but somehow conclusions drawn seem surprisingly mild.

Ali's strident anti-imperialist language may offend some readers but the history he recounts can only trigger revulsion. If the West was so concerned about the Iraqi people's freedom, why did it use sanctions which caused the death of hundreds of thousands of children and "had the effect of making people totally dependent on the regime for all basic necessities, strengthening the hold of the regime"? (p.139)

As to the final attack, it certainly had nothing to do with democracy and Iraqi people's freedom. Washington has always emphasised that the Gulf area is of utmost strategic interest. During the latest onslaught, some US hawks have been totally open in their cynicism. Ali repeats the famous quote from Paul Wolfowitz who admitted that "for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on: weapons of mass destruction". (p. 152)

There is something pitiful about intelligent commentators struggling to define the difference between outright lies and some degree of self-deception by Bush and Blair, when the game's real nature has been openly admitted by people who are in the know. Ali notes that the language of the American hawks is direct: "to preserve US hegemony, force will be used wherever and whenever necessary." (p. 153)

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