Published on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 by CommonDreams.org
Iraq Could Become U.S. Greatest Blunder
by Ramzy Baroud
The United States' government has missed an opportunity to redeem some disastrous blunders in Iraq. Instead, it preferred to walk the same path chosen by past U.S. governments, in Asia, South America and elsewhere.
The U.S. government defied international law when it invaded Iraq, in a war that claimed the lives of over 6,000 civilians and wounded many more. That's twice as many as those who perished in the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Needless to say, the Iraq invasion was and remains an act of terrorism.
While the drafting of international law is often a collective decision where many countries take part, enforcing the law is only a privilege used and misused by countries with powerful armies, who often give themselves the right to interpret laws in ways that serve their own interests.
Consequently, while the United Nations made it clear that the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq was illegitimate and lacked the backing of a legal mandate, U.S. war generals argued that the decision to invade a sovereign country was sanctioned by U.N. resolutions, or perhaps their personal interpretation of these resolutions.
To convince the American public that discounting the United Nations in launching a war was a necessity, the Bush administration resorted to half-truths and unsupported claims about an imaginary danger that Saddam Hussein's government posed to their national security.
The Americans were even more modest in comparison to the British government. Tony Blair's government claimed that the Iraqis were in fact capable of launching an attack using weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.
As someone who visited Iraq in 1999 - where the situation, despite the suffocating sanctions was still better off than today - I testify that the Iraqi government could not even provide basic services of electricity or water for days on end, needless to say attack powerful countries - based thousands of miles away, with WMD's.
But since we are told to get a reality check and accept that the invasion is now history, and the subsequent occupation is now a fact, we are urged to merely hope that America has learned from its past blunders. However, such hope is deteriorating everyday.
Some of those who were unclear about the U.S. motives in Iraq got a reality check themselves, when they followed announcements made by top war generals, updating the public on how many oil fields in Iraq were being "liberated". The last number of liberated oil fields was 600 before the fall of Baghdad.
While U.S. forces moved very slowly to stop the looting and to quell the chaos caused by their invasion, fully geared U.S. troops were already in charge of the building hosting the oil ministry.
U.S. army administrators in Iraq have offered endless promises to improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis, justifying the slow progress by the enormity of the mission. However, the mission seemed less complicated when the task facing the U.S. administration is to assign dozens of multinational corporations to take charge of Iraq's natural resources. The bidding began before the war was even over, and the seemingly immense task of dividing the Iraqi cake was the only "cakewalk" that this war has witnessed.
When I visited Iraq a few years ago, along with a large delegation of American doctors and journalists, a population that suffered tremendously under the harsh sanctions imposed by the United States using the U.N, welcomed us very warmly.
Two weeks ago, one of our delegation members just came back from Iraq concluding his third visit, this time after Iraq and its oil fields were "liberated."
This was his most distressful visit yet, since the Iraq people, known for their untold generously, were no longer welcoming, but angry and feeling betrayed.
Why shouldn't they? As if the invasion and occupation were not enough, but the human rights abuses and the killing of civilians on a daily basis in Iraq, were reminders that the U.S. was in fact little interested in fostering trust with the Iraqi people.
The Iraqis are experiencing a level of humiliation that they have not experienced even under Saddam Hussein's rule.
It was rather funny to see U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referring to the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners in times of war, after al-Jazeera aired images of American soldiers being questioned in a forceful manner.
Yet, since then, few failed to see the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners of war at the hands of the American and British forces. News of torture and rape are more than rumors, but legitimate reports prepared by respected human rights groups and publications. Maybe the Geneva Convention was not meant to include Arabs, or maybe Rumsfeld alone thinks so.
Now, females in Iraq are afraid to leave their homes after dark due to the lack of security, chaos and anarchy, only enforced by the fact that the U.S. occupation administration is consumed by achieving its own goals. The security and welfare of ordinary Iraqis is certainly not on the agenda, as the United States has clearly demonstrated.
It took no one by a surprise to see a well-organized Iraqi resistance emerging out of the ruins and facing up to the 116 thousand U.S. troops occupying their country.
To justify this mess, the United States is providing easy answers to complicated questions. But neither the publishing of the gruesome images of Saddam's sons, nor the killing or capture of the former Iraqi president himself shall quell the Iraqi resistance. If the issue was the elimination of one individual or the entire "deck of cards", or even the deployments of yet more troops, why did the U.S. experience a bitter defeat in Vietnam?
The Iraqi occupation is a colossal disaster that is turning into one of the U.S. greatest historic blunders. If Bush's cabal possess an average level of wisdom, it'd transfer authority in Iraq to true representatives of the Iraqi people, using the help of the United Nations and other Arab countries, to stabilize the volatile situation in the country, as soon as humanly possible.
Any solution other than that would mean the continuation of the bloodbath. The U.S. occupation of Iraq will end sooner or later. Why not end it now before the death toll from the two sides breaks new and devastating records?