So, the Iraq Study Group makes a report telling George Bush that he needs to change his strategy in Iraq across the board and Bush, like a scolded, naughty schoolboy, sits nodding obediently and promises to take the points seriously. Surprise, surprise!
In plain English, he was wrong. Wrong to start an illegal war in the first place, wrong to alienate the Iraqi population through Medieval Maquiavellian tactics (shock and awe, blasting the limbs off six-year-olds as they lay sleeping in their homes, torture chambers, acts of sexual depravity, rape), wrong to target civilian structures with military hardware, wrong to instal a group of shady, shifty characters on the fringes of Iraqi society as a “Government”, wrong to remove the point of equilibrium without knowing what he was doing, wrong to destroy the State which was the difference between the State of Iraq and utter chaos, wrong to create a vacuum into which extremists from the four corners of the Islamic world are pouring by the day.
This was said in this column four years ago, almost to the day.
The result is the mess we see today, due to one reason, and one reason only, namely the obtuse, arrogant, pig-headedness of a misguided and incompetent President of the USA whose closest brushes with reality are when he dares to venture out into close encounters with turkeys (plastic and real) and schoolkids, with whom he seems curiously at ease, maybe being on the same wavelength.
Apparently guided by some Quixotic dream of freeing the Iraqi people from the yolk of tyrrany, all he has achieved is to unite each and every opinion maker across the globe, including those who formerly opposed ex-President Saddam Hussein, into agreeing that the Iraqi citizen was far better off under Saddam than under the situation today.
Far from being free, no Iraqi can go to the marketplace without fearing for his life. Women’s rights have been sent back three centuries in three swift years. Where else on the planet can a women be raped or even beheaded in broad daylight for not wearing a veil? The Americans control nothing, instead travelling around in huge convoys or sitting trembling in their bases, the Government controls the billions of USD poured into the country and the Green Zone in Baghdad while Iraq is ruled de facto by gangs of criminals standing on every street corner armed with RPGs and automatic guns.
However tempting it is to say “I told you so”, there is no room for gloating at yet another Great American Disaster in foreign policy. Tears taste of salt, no matter in which family they are shed. Yet the telling epitaph of the Bush strategy in Iraq is that Saddam was keeping the terrorists out, while Bush let them in. The state of Iraq today is exactly the same as that which Saddam encountered when he came to power.
For this reason it comes as no surprise whatsoever that the ISG condemns the current strategy and suggests profound changes both in the internal policy in Iraq and in the wider picture, among the international community.
Whatever changes are made, this should not serve as a pretext to wipe the last three years off the slate and pretend that nothing happened, claiming that Iraq is anyway a better place because Saddam was a bit of a bastard. This is to defend a state of law imposed by the lynch mob and anyway, who created Saddam, who created bin Laden? Saying that Iraq is a better place today than three and a half years ago is an insult to each and every Iraqi citizen.
When we spoke of a New World Order at the end of the last millennium and when we drew up the Millennium Development Goals, we were collectively striving towards a world in which we all live together as brothers, around a common lake, which is our common sea, without regarding race, colour, creed or lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Bush and his corporate elitist clique of monetarist capitalist mass-murderers proved to be the world’s worst nightmare. Yet if we are to remain loyal to our quest for a New World Order, it does not make sense to stop here and gloat at the dramatic failure of Washington today but rather to find solutions.
First, it is obvious that those responsible for this act of mass murder should be brought before a proper court of law under a due legal process and be tried and judged for their crimes. It is unacceptable that an act of such criminal proportions, wanton violence, disregard for human life and the targeting of civilian structures with military equipment can go unpunished. If Saddam is to be hanged or shot for signing 148 death warrants, then Bush was already ahead with the figure of 152 as Governor of Texas and now adds some tens or even hundreds of thousands of civilians to boot.
Secondly, to be anti-Saddam you do not have to be pro-invasion and to be anti-invasion you do not have to be pro-Resistance. This group murders women and children just like the Americans have done, and like the Americans, massacres, rapes and tortures innocents without any regard for human life. Between them, they put the Iraqis between the wall and the sword
Therefore removing the occupying armies as soon as possible would remove the raison d’être of the Resistance and the resolute Iraqi people, with the proper degree of support but not intrusion and interference, can do the rest. The argument that if the Americans leave, there will be chaos is absurd, since today they are in Iraq and there is already chaos and anyway they are powerless to stop it, because when they venture out of their bases, they are shot at. The strategy today is simply to reduce casualties to a minimum and that means not fighting. A fitting description of the US Armed Forces inder Bush.
Thirdly, all the players must be involved in a frank process of negotiation and trade-offs, and this includes those who Bush arrogantly derided as “evil” and “terrorists”, namely the Iranians and Syrians, and all the groups represented in Iraq. However, Teheran’s influence in the region must be watched, so as not to create further imbalances.
And to counter such a scenario, it is necessary to attack the heart of the problem – Israel. Why should Israel be sitting on 100 nuclear warheads in the Negev Desert when Iran cannot even pursue a peaceful nuclear energy policy? Why can Israel massacre civilians in the Lebanon and like the USA, attack civilian targets with aircraft provided by Washington, and walk free? Why should Israel occupy lands which do not belong to it? Spoils of war? Then give Kuwait back to Iraq.
While this question is not approached seriously, and while the frontiers of Israel are not set back to those of 1947 and a phased process of decolonization begun, there can be no lasting peace in the Middle east.
Finally, while crisis management is not confined to the UNSC, as per the UN Charter, and while Washington treats the rest of the world with two weights and two measures, there can never be a New World Order.
Insurgency cannot be defeated by conventional armies. Terrorists cannot be beaten by the clatter of gunfire. Taking the cause away from the terrorists takes away their reason to exist and then the due politization process can begin, in a climate of negotiation in which everyone finds themselves in a win-win situation.
But does Washington have the capacity to understand this?