Fall of Baghdad is a real blow to the idea of international law. The era of open American hegemony has started off and the will to empire building by military force and naked aggression is now more blatant than ever. At least the people if not all regimes call it a war of arrogant aggression. In a recent article in ‘The Times’ of London by Anatole Kaletsky the US assault on Iraq has been duly condemned as “irrational, self-indulgent rage” following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. With complete disregard to legality, morality, and democratic norms, or say by all standards, this war is absolutely wrong and unjustified. American invasion on Iraq is, however, inching towards its pre-planned end. The capital Baghdad is now under siege after a heavy fight that continued for three weeks. The Americans perhaps would not go in for a hand-to-hand fight. The city may put up valorous resistance or it may capitulate without further bloodshed. Either way the outcome would be the occupation of the coalition forces, although there are apprehensions that still the war may prolong; according to the recent statement of the US Defense Secretary, there are difficult and very dangerous days ahead and that the fighting will continue for some period.
War always entails defeat of one side and victory for the other. But this war has brought ignominious defeat for humanity and defeat for the peaceful solution of conflicts. An epoch of civilization has again collapsed. The lesson from the two world wars of the 20th century for the international community was to discard the concept of ‘might is right’ and give an organization of states the monopoly to use force. For that purpose UN charter was framed but alas! that was blown away by the first cruise missile that hit its “carefully selected” target in Baghdad just three weeks ago. These “carefully selected” targets killed and wounded hundreds of innocent children, men and women, squandered myriads of mansions and edifices and converted plenty of greenery into barren and infertile land. The US aerial attack killing thousands of innocent Afghans had shocked many people in the world and now the US attack against Iraq shocked even more people who want to know whether there will ever be an end to this shameful killing of innocent human beings. The war on Iraq is not just a war against a particular country; it is a war against ethical and legal standards. It is also a war against the American ideals. The US victory over Baghdad would hardly produce any positive results even for the Americans in the long run. It would further egg on the bizarre lot of Americans to wreak horror, havoc and agony on the world to attain their selfish motives and gain their special interests. No one will mourn the passing of Saddam but an easy American passage in Iraq will be condemned and mourned forever as being the death of morality, the demise of international law, and the destruction of global institutions. The stark fact is that it has opened a new chapter of American terrorism. As Martin Winter wrote recently in Germany’s ‘Frankfurter Rundschau’, Bush is not an accident of history but the front man of an imperial philosophy that has long been in the making and is now being pushed through by a powerful group in political Washington. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice and Perle are the names of the principal pushers. The doctrine of the superpower that intervenes preventively and pre-emptively anywhere in the world whenever it chooses is the return of colonialism, wrapped up in the American flag”. He points out that this policy has nothing to do with democracy, freedom and human rights, but everything with power, natural resources and profit. One dare not venture to foresee the repercussions of the first massive act of aggression of the 21st century. But some conclusions can safely be drawn: Mr. Bush has succeeded in making the United States a pariah state which does not listen to reason and which wants to possess the wealth of the entire universe with an earnest desire to be the policeman of the world.
What we saw was a mismatch of gargantuan proportions. On one side was arrayed the largest and the most sophisticated war machine ever assembled on this planet, and on the other just a meek and modest collection of antiquated arms and ammunition. The Anglo-American forces had complete domination of the air. The Iraqi air force, on the other hand, was non-existent since it was destroyed in the first Gulf War. Hence not a single Iraqi plane was seen during the war. Above all Iraq was utterly friendless with no military support whatsoever and already smothered by the UN imposed sanctions for the last 12 years, which not only infected their economy but also caused murder of thousands of children. Thus with so many disadvantages Iraq had no chance to withstand the onslaught.
During the entire history of mankind, there have been wars in one form or another. Various reasons have been given why wars take place. Samuel Huntington, for instance, has come out with his theory of clash of civilizations as one cause of wars. But civilizations are composed of civilized people who invariably like to be peaceful and dislike wars. After the creation of the UN and within a period of only fifty years, the US, has been involved in more than twenty wars, its most recent involvement in Afghanistan and now in Iraq. The war against Iraq and the way it was fought is sufficient to prove that the Americans had no intentions of liberating Iraqi people from a brutal dictator or disarming Iraq of WMD or garlanding Iraq with liberal democracy. With a deadly coalition, fierce, resolute American warlords merely earn for full spectrum dominance of the planet. The worldwide public outcry and diplomatic resistance against the war leaves them unmoved. They dismiss with contempt the charge that it is naked aggression in clear breach of the UN Charter. Washington’s blatant military aggression seen on television screens has plainly made the reality of US as an aggressor power very palpable. George Bush is, quite relentlessly, out to dictate to the world hegemonic terms and conditions. Tony Blair, his neurotic imperialist lieutenant, is also keen to contribute a little chapter of his own. The US offensive attack on Iraq has been lambasted as a “manifestation” of a “New Hitlerism”. “Regime change” is an old American policy that was adopted in World War II to get rid of the Germans and the Japanese, and later in Vietnam and many South American regimes. However, it made a difference in the sense that in the last wars US managed to manipulate a general consensus for their policies but at present the US was riding roughshod over international opinion and stubbornly bypassing the United Nations. Their geopolitical interests of US in capturing Baghdad are diverse: To ensure its presence in the Middle East, remove any further threat to Israel, enhance it hegemony in the world, and implement its grand strategic vision of the neo-conservatives. But the most transparent and important are the economic and strategic interests. According to OPEC, Iraq has the second largest oil reserves and US is not going to leave them unavailed. According to an estimate at least 45 % of the oil consumption goes to America alone.
George Bush and his crusading knight, Tony Blair, have reassured, time and again, that their drive is not directed against Muslims and the Islamic world. The assurance needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. Whether Bush is a Christian fundamentalist or neo-conservative would have been irrelevant had this war been fought against a non-Muslim country. Now when it is fought against a Muslim country with its capital, Baghdad, a place very dear and sacred to South Asian Muslims because of its Sufi shrines, a home of the earliest surviving examples of Islamic architecture, comprising the Great Mosque at Samarra and the desert palace of Ukhaidar along with the tombs of Hazrat Ali (AS) and Imam Hussein (AS), it is being regarded in the Muslim world as a crusade against Muslims. By the way The Muslim Ummah has not forgotten the word crusade that was specifically used by Bush instantly after the episode of 9/11. Fighting Islamic militancy is a new interest, but now seems to top the American agenda.
There was no popular support for this war anywhere in the world, not even in the western societies. Millions of Christians in America, England, Australia, France, Germany and other European cities recorded their lucid and loud protests against the war well before it started with their grand rallies in the streets. Even his staunch allies like France, Germany, Russia and China had opposed the war in clear-cut terms as they regarded it as a prelude to the American attempt at global hegemony, though now they seem to reconcile with the seemingly American occupation of Iraq. The Americans claim that they want to democratize the Arab states by removing a sitting regime in Iraq is totally baseless. To be dead sure, democracy has never been the ideal of the Pentagon since they can achieve much more from the dictators than premier of any country with purely democratic set-up. The history of US support for dictatorial regimes from Middle East to Latin America is no secret. Besides, the object of democracy is not to be enforced under the thunder of B-52s, cluster and dirty bombs, cruise missiles and tons of their payloads. It is certainly not a democratic procedure to liberate the Iraqi people by pulverizing Baghdad with a thousand cruise missiles and democracy can never be ushered in Iraq after killing and injuring thousands of men, women and innocent children and devastating their national assets and optimum infrastructure. Using undemocratic means to rush through the war is only to undermine the democratic norms. Civil societies are cultivated and democracies are built up from below or inside, not from above or outside. Democracy is a state to be earned, not a gift to be bestowed by foreign invaders. The great mission of the super power, however, is not liberation or say democratization of the Middle East but actually complete control and command of oil-rich region. Not only this war is inhumane, unjust and unlawful, but also totally a wrong and illicit misconception to make social or political change anywhere, specifically in the Middle East where every move of the US is prone to raise suspicion. It is already being perceived as imperialistic war by the Arab populations. They proceeded with “do it alone” strategy. They think that the US must use its military power to protect its interests whosoever hinders them. It is better to have as many countries on their side and have the legitimacy of the UN if they can otherwise they are prepared to act alone. This is exactly what they have done in going to war against Iraq. The destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure that is underway and later, if it ever takes place, reconstruction would bring in massive contracts for American and allied companies. Iraq under new regime will pump more oil after rehabilitation of its oil industry and pay for rebuilding. Iraq cannot and will not be shut out to other competitors or flow of its oil restricted to a few selective destinations. Reconstruction of Iraq will offer a big business opportunity, and if it is taken as one of the spoils of war, it may not be evenly distributed.
It is presumed that Iraq would prove another Vietnam for the Americans. The US would be falling right into a deep quagmire if they tried to redraw the map of Iraq or played on make ethnic groups against one another. In this way the occupation of Iraq may prove to be a bitter pill that Americans would have to swallow for the follies of their President. Categorically speaking, wars are a very costly business and there is a limit up to which taxpayers can finance wars but when that limit is crossed, even the mightiest empires are prone to collapse. During the 20th century the cost of World War II was over the figure of Pounds 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. And this was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union as the long Afghan war shattered her economy beyond repair. And now in the 21st century, we are going to witness the collapse of the most powerful sovereign state, the US that is going to repeat the same folly. After spending huge amount of $20,000,000,000,000 annually for 8 long years in Vietnam, now they are bent to waste their money in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, the cost of only fuel expenses during US aerial operations was well over $ 3,000,000,000,000. And now one can well imagine the cost of the US-Iraq War, which is likely to run into astronomical figures. America spent US dollars 322 billion on defense in 2001 and is projected to spend as much as all other countries put together. The US has its bases in so many places in the world. In Germany these are 71,400 troops; in Japan 39,700 and in South Korea 38,000. There are troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan and, of course, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have huge American bases. In view of the grim fact that Americans seldom withdraw completely once they subjugate a country militarily, people wonder if the next major base will be Iraq. And if it is Iraq then the Arab world will be policed by bases within it. This seems to be a new kind of imperialism as compared to the old imperialists settled colonies of soldiers and administrators. It is an open secret that the American Imperious tactics extracts wealth and carries on a cultural and economic conversion of countries into its own image or in its own interests and their military bases at various places exhibit the necessary muscle to keep the ‘ mighty empire’ in line and to reach out to the world.
Any sensible person is apt to wish had the total sum as depicted above been consumed on the welfare of the poor lot throughout the world, it would have become a heaven, a real paradise. Americans would have been really ruling the hearts of the people throughout the world. They could have become unforgettable legends in the annals of history. But alas! Due to their immensely aggressive and ulterior designs they have now become a symbol of hatred, a simile of disgust, a metaphor of ignominy. This is, indeed, shocking.