Crime and Trial: The defense of the Iraqi Occupation
During the month of Ramadan, if West Asia was rocked by bombings and human tragedy, the world was shaken by the magnitude of the damning probe reports investigating the occupation of Iraq and the role of the two heads of States in forcing their countries into a move that was based on lies and more lies.
The release of the FBI declassified reports openly validate the conspiracy theorists who have been claiming that the occupation of Iraq and the forced removal of Saddam Hussain was for every reason but justice or democracy.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield, George Bush Jr. and Tony Blair had weaved a web of lies and drawn two countries to a quagmire of a war that is still not over.
The importance of the FBI documents and the Chilcot report lie not in their bulk of testimony against the leaders, but in the lack of pointing out the ideological flaws that were propagated by the leaders.
They are extremely detailed about the fact that the basis for the war was wrong as the information from the intelligence sources were unauthentic rendering the motive to be flimsy.
The Western media has gone on an overdrive to witch-hunt the leaders and Blair seems to have taken the worst media flogging. He is suddenly the most unpopular Prime Minister that the United Kingdom ever had. His constant need to be on the side of the US, is seen as a personal need for recognition by the bigger evil.
What is not mentioned however is the reality that there was no need for a war. What is not discussed is the ideological strength of the argument that drove the leaders. What is not detailed, is the history of the buildup of hostility that had led to sanctions on Iraq and the change of equations between Iraq and the US over various issues.
What is not detailed is the manner in which the selective sources were picked up. What is not listed are the various variables that played a role in shaping the disaster of the occupation of Iraq.
The blinkered focus of the reports are important indicators about the reactions that have followed on various issues from both the US and the UK. It is a lacuna in research method that led the former PM to go public with a two hour response where he was unapologetic about his decision.
While the response was met unfavorably by the UK press that had reluctantly supported Blair in 2003, it was the language response that needs attention. Understanding the PM’s response would go a long way in understanding why the UK and the US have been coming up with foreign policy decisions that are immensely destructive to the people they are aimed at.
To begin with, Blair takes the point of reference as September 11, 2001 as the point when the foreign policy to go to war took shape.
In the 6,000 word speech, he tries to blame Saddam for being non-co-operative with the UN weapons inspectors, for supporting terrorist organizations, for conducting mass murders within Iraq, and last but not the least for a simmering sectarian conflict that blew up to the proportions the world sees today.
The two hour justification bears the mindset of a colonizer. It tries to portray the country as needy of external help, unable to manage their own affairs, violent, ignorant, savage and if they had not been given the guided democracy they live under today, the situation would have been far worse.
It is here that he made apparent the ideology that guided him. He wanted to ensure that everyone who did not talk his language or was doing well without the external assistance, did not exist.
By stretching his arguments to a hypothetical future with a Saddam still at the helm of affairs, Blair exposed the extremely thin grounds he was walking on, and his ability to never be objective.
He chose to overlook reports after reports that have been coming out of Iraq about the mismanagement by the occupying forces, the failure of the created armed forces to contain ‘terrorism’, the corruption practiced by the system set up and the foreign management teams to supervise the new system, and lastly, the voice of the people who prefer a Saddam to liberation.
Worse, in calling Saddam a supporter of religious fundamentalism, Tony Blair is attempting to paint a hardened anti-Islamist as an Islamist.
Moreover, he goes on to linking the current Syrian crisis to Saddam and argues that like Assad, Saddam too would have crushed an Arab Spring.
He could not have been more off the mark.
If he had studied his history of the region, he would have realized that for all his ambitions and short comings, Saddam was known for establishing a system that ensured no one was killed without a reason.
He was firm in keeping religious fundamentalism at bay. It was his experiment with socialism that got him the support of the millions of Iraqis and had kept the Shias from joining the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
When food riots broke out in different part of the region in 1991-92, Iraq was assured of a leader who would rather take on Kuwait and the rest of the world rather than suppress its own population.
In fact, it is the history of Iraq from 1991 -2002 that contradicts every statement made by either Bush then or Blair today.
It is the ideology of colonization that does not allow Blair to admit that the occupation of Iraq was illegal.
It does not allow him to admit that the UN sanction or even debate were as important for UK as was Bush’s need for troops. His myopia does not allow him to acknowledge that in March 2003, the United Nations was forced to extend a mandate of occupation to the United States. The United Nations weapons inspectors preferred resigning to endorsing the military sanctions.
The revelations about Iraq have taken two different turns in both the US and the UK. While in the UK, Tony Blair faces charges of contempt in the House of Commons after the Chilcot report, the US continues unaffected.
If the policy decisions and speeches of President Obama are a yardstick, then they show a continuity of policy and ideology inherited.
Domestic politics may be a factor in Obama’s increase in military engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
It would take a long time for the next President to undo the inherited legacy.
The legacy of colonization and intervention was opposed by Obama when he first won his election.
His policy of replacing ‘privates’ with official forces were bound to fail in the long run. Aware of the vulnerability of pulling out completely from Iraq in 2011, Obama has been moving towards partial engagement.
There is a reason for the US to pledge over 500 troops to Iraq are not difficult to understand.
President Obama in his speeches has always highlighted the role the US has to play in ensuring that fragile countries that have become democracies with American assistance, remain nation-states.
However, with the possibility of NATO and EU charting similar paths, it has become important for the US to pledge troops and money in Iraq and Afghanistan. At Warsaw, the focus of the President’s speech and his diplomacy was to wean EU away from Russia and become a part of the US allied efforts in West Asia.
While the FBI declassified documents and the Chilcot report, the RAND report and other reports indicate the magnitude of the crime committed in the process of occupation of Iraq, none significantly discuss the nature of trial or punishment that should take place.
At the most Tony Blair would be charged with lying to the House of Commons.
The Americans on the other hand would use the occasion to whip up more rhetoric and elect a leader who is likely to either make the situation murkier or more profitable.
The ideology of blaming the bombed will continue, unchanged.
Photo Courtesy: ITV Yokshire