dinsdag 7 mei 2013

Iraq war a decade on

by Michael Meacher

George W. Bush and Tony Blair at a press meeting availability in the East Room of the White House July 28, 2006.
White House photo by Paul Morse

At the tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, it is said that the US won the war, Iran won the peace, and Turkey won the contracts. But did the US win the war? At a cost of £1.1 trillion and a death toll of 4,500 US troops, 32,000 wounded and with thousands of survivors still struck down with post-traumatic stress disorder, the US completely failed to anticipate the insurgency which eventually forced them out, and left in place a Shia autocracy closely allied with a resurgent Shia Iran. Iraq remains a bitterly divided and violent country, and even the US goal of securing control of the enormous Iraqi oil reserves (second only to Saudi Arabia’s) they were forced to forego. If one had to pinpoint the moment when the US lost unipolar power as the world’s hegemon, it must surely be the comprehensive disaster of the Iraq war.

Compounded with that of course is the mendacious, illegal and devious manner in which the US-UK claimed authority in launching the war at all. Saddam had no involvement whatever in 9/11, there were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (as was widely suspected by Western intelligence agencies at the time, but suppressed by the politicians), and the ways used by Bush and Blair to take their countries to war were, as is now know, brazenly deceitful. Apart from the canard of WMD, Bush used the purchase of yellowcake (a component for nuclear weapons) from Niger to prove his case, which his own ambassador had proved to be false. Blair used the dodgy dossier and the fantasy of 45 minute deployment of WMD, as well as ignoring the explicit witness of Saddam’s own son-in-law who had defected that all Iraqi nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons had been demolished after the first Gulf War in 1991. Both Bush and Blair deliberately breached UN Resolution 1441, yet neither, after an illegal invasion which killed probably half a million Iraqis (estimates vary between 100,000 and 1 million), the vast majority of them civilians, has yet been called to account.

What did the war achieve long-term? It undermined the moral standing of the US-UK, it generated an al-Qaeda presence in Iraq and beyond that had not been there before, and it sent a clear message (which has emboldened Iran and North Korea) that the only way to deter US blackmail and attack was indeed to acquire WMD. Indeed it could be said that the greatest WMD were those wielded by the Americans – the demolition of Fallujah, the US led massacres at Haditha, Mahmudiyah and Balad, and the biggest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

And 10 years on we still haven’t been told the secret pledges that Blair made to Bush at his Crawford ranch in Texas some ten months before the war began, and before consulting the cabinet, parliament or the people of Britain. Chilcot, who still hasn’t reported, has seen this evidence, but is being prevented from publishing it, even though Blair himself, Powell and Campbell have disclosed privileged information when it suited their cause. Being told ‘it is not in the public interest’ is the strongest possible indication that it is very much in the public interest that it be revealed.

Michael Meacher is a Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton (UK)
This article first appeared on Michael Meacher’s weblog on March 17, 2013

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