History is often told as written by the conqueror. But in the age of the internet and digital communication that can no longer be a steadfast rule. Delving into a not so recent past, I wonder if state-sponsored terrorism has ever commanded the headlines that it deserves. Let’s take a look at Iraq.
The Iraq of today is still searching for a definition. The people are not much better off than they were under the previous warlord. The breakdown of Iraq led to a splintering of communal groups, some who went on to infamy in the form of Daesh and other bandits. Killings continue, albeit on a smaller scale, and the determination of the people to get the present-day occupiers, which now include Iran, out strengthens daily in its resolution.
In today’s dynamic world, yesterday’s news is fast becoming a fading memory, and yet can we not remember what it was that started this all? Wasn’t it those notorious weapons of mass destruction that were on everybody’s lips the reason to enter and destroy? Wasn’t evidence tabled in front of the UN Security Council justifying possession of such weaponry by Iraq? Where did it all go?
Bush Jr. and Blair are today looked upon as retired and respected politicians. Countless Iraqi civilians died and many remain maimed today because of their non-existent WMD drum rolls.
Polls at the time showed that most Americans weren’t too concerned whether this evidence would ever be discovered. They had moved on to other items on their agenda. The soap opera that transfixed a nation during the months of March and April of 2003 had run out of steam, to be replaced with other more intriguing serials. Iraq became a distant dot on the map, and as long as it did not interfere with their daily lives today, so be it.
And yet it was Bush and Blair then who sold the war — launched in March 2003 — to an unaware public based on their evidence that Iraq had massive quantities of WMD, with the sole intention of carrying out an attack against the United States or its allies. Calculated domestic threat levels escalating at intermittent intervals only helped increase the sense of fear and Armageddon.
And when France and a few others voiced concern over dubious and fabricated evidence presented before the world body, and in their judgement thought best to let the UN inspectors continue, then they too were singled out as the collaborators or the ‘enemy’. French fries suddenly became Freedom Fries.
And so, after countless sorties and thousands of bombs, and estimates that range anywhere from 500,000 to a million civilians and military personnel dead in Iraq, there still was no WMD. Add to the count are the millions who were rendered homeless and stateless as a result of the war, and a hornets’ nest had been stirred up that slowly ran out of control.
Iraq oil and reconstruction
Was it about the oil? Oil that the US and the British quickly claimed as their own in their brazen resolution put forth at the UN allowing them to disperse of it as they saw fit in ‘the interest of rebuilding Iraq’. And those nations that still had reservations were bullied into voting for it or else.
What led to the death of the innocent? Where were all those WMDs poised to strike at the heartland of America or the UK? According to the Guardian, ‘An unnamed intelligence official told the BBC that the key claim in the September 2002 dossier — that Iraq could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes of an order — had been inserted on the instructions of officials at No 10.’ Downing Street had to match Bush’s evidence for this plan of naked aggression to work.
There was never any world-threatening WMD to begin with, for Saddam would have certainly used them in a last stand. And what relics of weaponry Iraq possessed — had come from none other than the US and the UK, major arms suppliers to Iraq during the 80s.
Was the Dresden-style mass bombardment of Baghdad and destruction of Iraq really meant to exact revenge for the event of 9/11 and to send a message of “shock and awe” throughout the Muslim nation?
Events in Iraq following the 2003 invasion which were bluntly termed as ‘an illegal war’ by the late King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia spawned a whole series of events that eventually led to unrest in several Arab countries that today are still embroiled in turmoil.
“Did the end justify the means? Were the 2003 occupiers any better than the oppressors they had replaced? Bush Jr. and Blair are today looked upon as retired and respected politicians. Countless Iraqi civilians died and many remain maimed today because of their non-existent WMD drum rolls. On whose conscience shall those deaths and disabilities dwell upon?”
— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena