Moorhead High School
Did you know…? The Initial name for the mission in Iraq was Operation Iraqi Liberation, a fact revealing our president’s intimate relation ship with OIL. What led us to the war with Iraq? The strategic question, lies within. To focus on where we went wrong one must analyze a few variables: Past and Present mistakes, The buildup to the war, The Iraqi will, The Justifications of the war and Iraq’s future prospects. The Imperial war in Iraq has cost enough lives with no gain; just bureaucracy, OIL, and a tattered nation with no future prospects. It has split mother from father, husband from wife, America form peace, and Americans from the World.
This is not the first effort at arbitration by Uncle Sam. The long arms of this diplomatic nation have, many a time and oft, touched countries, only with failure amongst it’s clients, to sing it’s praise. The blame ultimately might be placed on ideals of Manifest Destiny or the Monroe doctrine, but in this diplomatic nation pieces of paper are mere guidelines that have been filed and frayed as profit demands. America has always claimed to be a missionary of diplomacy and anti-colonialism, but what happened in the Philippines? in Cuba? in Mexico? in Hawaii? or in Afghanistan? Have we not attacked the bays of Cuba; have we not helped Carranza, a terrorist in Mexico; have we not aided the revolution in Panama; and for what did we do these things? A canal, some land, dominance. So, is the U.S. still, according to Wilson, a peace loving, a caring, and a diplomatic nation? Is the U.S. still anti-Colonial or at all sympathetic? The answer, is no. To further deepen the cut; what has the U.S. paid for these lands and this dominance? How many stains are attached to the face of this nation? How many lives have been lost? How many legs broken, how many eyes gorged? Although the U.S. did not always mean harm, the neo-capitalistic views only usher failure.
The events mentioned above, although tragic, are hard core facts, and lessons that one must take away form previous entanglements. Although the people of the U.S. may embrace the concept, some are just plainly inept. Although it is not totally fair to point all fingers at the Texican man, one is automatically disposed to do so. Additionally, in all the wars above a few elements are constant. Firstly the destruction of arbitration leading to instability, and secondly, an eventual war. This raises yet another interesting question. Who is the culprit in this case? The people who initiate it or the people who fuel to the war crimes? To try and speculate an answer to the question posed, one needs to examine warfare in its entirety.
Since historical times wars have been waged for an assortment of reasons; anything from land disputes to racism. These wars were also neither regulated nor controlled, meaning that “anything was fair in love and war.” However, warfare today has become extremely complex and controlled by conventions and boards. One of these regulative documents includes the Geneva Conventions and its protocols, which have been modified and increased in numbers, over the years (Gasser). The second document regulating, not only warfare but also rights is the UN declaration of Human Rights. This declares many rights of man and woman as self evident under any circumstances. Some include: the right of life and free-will. Although universal this law has been set to be universal, violations are not unheard of.
One can’t find a better example than that of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in Iraq. However, when the U.S. went in to intervene, the world just scoffed. Why? Because the U.S. itself had gone against many of these rights by holding prisoners at Guantanamo, or by even bombing Nagasaki. Looking at that comparison, does the U.S. have the right to go into Brazil and order them to stop cutting the Amazon, when the yanks themselves mercilessly hacked every tree in America? Can the U.S. go into India and call for a halt in pollution when the U.S. itself uses the most electricity and is one of the top polluters? One can easily argue that the U.S. was right in going into Iraq to topple Saddam’s regime but by saying so one must also agree that this kind of war requires a preventative, rather than provocative approach. Meaning, that the war has to fulfill three requirements; Firstly it has to be defenseless. Secondly, it has to be important enough to be worth the trouble. Thirdly, there has to be a way to portray that the ultimate evil is a threat to all humanity (and oil is not a humanity) (Chomsky). The war that we are fighting now however, doesn’t sound like any of those.
According to the Bush Administration, Saddam Hussein was guilty of war crimes against humanity and a protest mission was launched to de-throne the dictator. With added publication of “Weapons of Mass Destruction [WMD]” this war was a moral crusade. What Washington failed to tell us was the multiple violations of the U.S’s very own constitution. The Writ of Habeus Corpus is a clause in the 8th article of prized document that gives all men right for an appeal for any sentence. This law has been extradited at times of war but under normal conditions this has to be obeyed. The prison cells of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, that holds many prisoners of war that begs to differ otherwise as none of them are allowed trials or even a glance at the evidence against them. Here the flag truly beats the constitution. This too can be counted as a crime against humanity. However, one may say that the crimes in Iraq were of a full scale dictatorship and a horrendous nature. This explains the topple of Saddam Hussein but comes quite short of explaining the war against the Iraqi people. America went to war with Saddam, not the people. Nevertheless, the war continues brewing a storm both at home and abroad.
The indications of this storm came with the first notion that U.S. was prepared to wage total war in Iraq. Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of both Washington and other neighborhoods, to question the solitary decision. People of all color, races and ages took part–all united under the “No War With Iraq Banner”(Campbell 1). In a furious ultimatum to the UN security Council and Saddam Hussein, U.S. president spoke these very fine words:
Our invasion is legitimate, Bush declared, because “the United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring it’s own national security,” threatened by Iraqi with or without Saddam. The UN is irrelevant because “it has not lived up to its responsibilities”- that is to follow Washington’s orders. The US will “enforce the just demands of the world” even if the world overwhelmingly objects (Chomsky 33).
The world did overwhelmingly object this move. Never before had the church so quickly, united under pope John Paul II to deem the war, “unjust.” Never before had there been a petition signed by regular townsfolk to the Security council in an effort to barricade the U.S. The critics and Washington however branded the 75% of U.S. citizens ,”not enough to matter” (Campbell 2). Instead of considering the choice of long term peace, the U.S. tried to hammer out a dictated peace, like that of World War I. The reminiscence of a global past attempt at a dictated peace still haunt the World War II veterans today. Form the rise and fall of Hitler to the denial of the League of Nations, it is like as if one was looking into a mirror of the past but seeing a picture of today, yet, not understanding the picture. This mirror also reflects Operation Desert Storm in Afghanistan and the Vietnam war and all the previous Imperialistic propagandas.
Despite a broad history of failures the U.S, as always, happened to muster up another mistake, one that never failed tension in the international arena. The United states took a gigantic leap towards claiming dominance and power over the world when it refused to follow a United Nations mandate for further investigations on a cooling trail of WMDs. An outraged bush however took the road along, to be later joined by Australia and Great Britain. Ignoring the UN meant ignoring the estimated guess of ½ a million casualties, it meant ignoring 146 countries and most importantly, it meant losing all respect form the world gained after the 9/11 attacks. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the whole worlds scoffs at the U.S, failing to understand it’s foreign diplomacy. Despite all these experiences however, according to Noam Chomsky, Washington has failed to learn a lesson:
Bush administration declared itself to be a “revisionist state” that intends to rule the world permanently, becoming, some felt, “a menace to itself and mankind” under the leadership of “radical nationalists” aiming for “unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority” (Chomsky 37).
Mr. Chomsky further quotes president Bush after the 9/11 attacks:
“Why do they hate us?” The question was wrongly put, and the right question was scarcely addressed. But within a year the administration succeeded in providing an answer: “Because of you and your associates, Mr. Bush, and what you have done. And if you continue, the fear and hatred you have inspired may extend to the country has shamed as well.” For O Sama bin Laden it is a victory beyond his wildest dreams (Chomsky 42).
On that evidence, another question clearly surfaces. What did we do? The answer lies within the war itself. One can not just glance at the present war on terrorism but also look upon past experiences in Iraq and conjure up the constituents of the war itself. Only then can one decide on a solution.
Past attempts in Iraq include that under President Bush I. Although fiercer in his Desert storm expedition former pres. Bush was not keen at attacking Iraq’s populous and even advocated against this very move in his novel. This a path that Clinton too sought to follow and therefore asked for UN sanctions. President Bush II embraced this same idea only, he took it too far. It’s result, the war we see today (Virginia-pilot). However, the cacophony in the middle east shows yet another weakness of the United States, one more destructible than the WMD. The assumption of WMD, and for that matter assumptions as a whole.
As we have already established, the justifications and reasons for the crusade into Iraq can be categorized into the broad spectrum of morality. Even, as the first inspectors landed in Iraq investigations had already started through the “grapevine” of the international community. The alleged WMD were supposedly hidden and manufactured by Iraq with aims to obliterate all of the American race. It was amazing though, how the secretary of state changed the operative words in his speeches from “has nuclear weapons,” to “could have nuclear weapons” and finally substituting “weapons” for “a weapons program” (Landsberg 3). Secretary Rumsfeld also made a startling breakthrough when he finally pinpointed the location of Al Qaeda to “[we know where they are] they are in the area around Trikit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat” (Landsberg 4). In these very speeches however, Washington failed to tell us the sources for this information, notably the sources were Iraqi defectors themselves. The proof too was extremely vague. This invasion was essentially based upon a suspicious truck, an aluminum shell and forged papers proving a fictions purchase of Uranium. With these few “clues” U.S. added three one’s to get five. The pressure for the invasion however, wasn’t just the so called proof. It came from within and without. According to Los Angeles Times the cabinet of the former president Bush, had a hand in squishing the “Iraq” bug they let live a long time ago.
As days went by and Iraq did not cooperate with the United sates it looked up towards the United Nations, a strategic move to try and test Washington’s control on the Security Council. It asked for a resolution to discipline the stubborn Iraq. The U.S. however did not hold back in letting the UN know that resolution or not the United States was ready to act. After few discussions the UN passed resolution 1441 to tell Iraq to co-operate in further searches. Despite the fact that all the targets under suspicion tested negative for WMD and the likelihood of finding any got smaller by the minute, US was not going to back down from a full scale attack. President Bush delivered a final “Ultimatum” to Iraq and told them to disarm. There was only one problem with that request, Iraq had nothing to disarm and therefore plainly refused. Upon the extremely conservative guess of 100-200 tons of weapons “The clock [against Iraq] was ticking” (Virginia-Plot).
When it came time to fight, president Bush, according to Chomsky and the Virginia Plot, promised a preventative war at West point. This promise was hardly kept when it came wartime, as a great amount of troops had already been deployed along the sidelines of Iraq and the numbers were quickly reinforced. The trigger came with the French and Russian security council veto for any UN warfare in Iraq. Mr. Bush started digging a huge hole with his army as a shovel and yet no planning permission form the international community. And their proof, a a faulty report and of course Al Quaeda.
The US believed that Al Qaeda was involved in Iraq because Zarkawi was present in Iraq and was under surveillance. The true fact of the matter is that Zarkawi was in Baghdad for medications and Al Qaeda only entered Iraq to oppose the American intervention (Landsberg).
The facts above are startling yet clearly show the path that should have been taken for justice in Iraq. Instead of hasty judgment the United Sates should have followed some key procedures in dealing with Iraq. First and foremost, the U.S. should have automatically, called upon the UN to resolve and investigate, by helping in funds and troops but only through the Security Council and the IAEA. A mandate should have been called for in the crimes against humanity. The new government in Iraq can not be one appointed by the US , Iraq has to be resolved from within whether that meant a split into smaller nations or not, only time could tell. Nevertheless, the international community should fully respect each individual state and respect any decisions in Iraq. This kind of thought out action may not have been successful overnight, as it takes time for a country to develop. It took the U.K. almost 700 years and it took the U.S. almost 200 hundred years to establish a democracy. These kind of margins need to be set for Iraq’ that’s if Iraq wants a democracy.
During the painstaking process of discussions amongst the Bush cabinet, it is highly unlikely that president Bush and his administration ever glanced at the genuine Iraqi will. It can be said that that information was not available at that time but it is very well known that the middle east and the U.S. are like oil and water; they can’t mix. Despite much fighting and sectarian violence, one decision, amongst the Iraqi’s, is backed by consensus and that is the removal of the United States from their land. This is parallel to the demands of Bin Laden himself and this very reason is swelling sectarian violence and a partial co-operation in Iraq and neighboring nations. According to Judith S. Yaphe of the Defense Department, there is a fear of U.S. leaving puppets to later control the region. This fear is most probably derived from historical references form places like Guantanamo Bay. Another major factor in the lack of co-operation is that of the Iraqis themselves. Amongst the Iraqis there lie many different cultures and casts, and although minute, the differences create a huge rift in the process of one Interim government. Therefore, the solution can not be to go in and establish a mix and match government but rather to sit around the table and work out differences. Arguably, one may say that sitting down all the leaders to a peace conference is a preposterous idea but at least the U.S. can better use it’s recourses at working up a treaty rather than hammering out a dictated peace or just killing random people.
Amongst many Mrs. Yaphe, of the DOD, has identified three dramas surrounding the case in Iraq. Firstly we have the drama of Civil War. As we push in harder and deeper into Iraq we disturb a precarious balance between civil war and reform. The fact of the matter remains however, that we, the U.S. is the one initiating a cycle of warfare. The very presence of America is the reason for bombs and violence. Secondly, we have the Transitional Governance. This too needs a freedom for the U.S. government and needs to be treated as partner not a client. We can not undermine the Iraqi government by calling them lousy after not letting them do their job. Thirdly, we face the issue of poor planning. The U.S. is pushing democracy through a minority. It has also been said that the expedition into Iraq had a very vague plan; including downsizing, depoliticizing and hidden agendas for wealth (Yaphe). Instead of this opaque view of the mission in Iraq, the U.S. should make all deals transparent and help bring all the choices to the surface.
Iraq itself, due to it’s divisions seems to have three choices: (1) Clerical rule- like Iran. (2) Hezbollah rule, or (3) combined politics, therefore resulting in an inevitable spilt (DOD). Although one may understand these choices, putting them into action is easier said than done. With the pre-war friction and the presence of the Americans, a peace deal is virtually impossible and can only be managed by a pressure free meting of leaders in Iraq. This is only possible under three circumstances: (1) Removal of U.S. troops. (2) Handover to UN. (3) removal of all pressures for neighbors and the international community. This pressure is also a byproduct of past wars like the Gulf war, making the Middle East polarized and henceforth disturbing an alignment of power. However, the question still remains; What must we do?
After a thorough review of the evidence a strategic forum within the DOD has conjured a plan to improve the affairs in Iraq. This plan is subdivided into eight simple steps. (1) Strengthen the leaders role in the govt. (2.) Treat Iraq as a partner not client (3.) Give Iraq decision making authority (4.) Gradual hand over to the UN (5.) Promote leaders conference (6.) Avoid extreme military campaigns (7.) Get out to stop making them fail. (8.) Forget the oil.
The U.S. is presently digging a deeper hole than Vietnam and we need to stop. At the present time however, president Bush doesn’t seem to notice. After recently declining a deadline in Iraq, Mr. Bush has single handedly taken the reputation for his nation to a record low. In Iraq itself, all hopes are failing but Washington still boasts about the 30,000 businesses in the area. What it forgets to tell us it that those 30,000 businesses are primarily oil as that is the only rising stock in the war torn nation. The U.S. is once again turning into the ugly ducking. The world scoffs at us, and why shouldn’t they. We call ourselves peace loving, caring and anti-imperialistic, but we turn around and attack, Panama, Cuba, Haiti, Hawaii, Philippines, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Spain, just to name a few. It has been clearly announced, by the UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, that the situation in Iraq now is much worse than it was under Saddam. The failure to handover the reigns to the Iraqis themselves is the culprit.
The U.S. is still justifying it’s stay in Iraq by saying that they need to train and prepare the Iraqi troops. Next, they say that the Iraqi troops are on par with their American counterparts but always need assistance (USA Today). The same is the case with the government. The situation in Iraq, although gloomy, is finally showing a silver lining. There has been news of a U.S. free peace meeting at Cairo, between surrounding nations, to resolve an age old issue is finding much success. Nevertheless, the U.S. seems to have lost all faith in compromise.
As the months turn to years the battle in Iraq has reached a climax and a standstill. According to the senior officials in Iraq Baghdad is the power house for the whole nation and the Bush administration will obtain Baghdad at any cost. Whether be it money or lives. This strategy creates more problems than it solves and as mentioned before, it further tips the see-saw towards civil war. A god sent message to the insurgents, according to a confiscated memo (Jackson). No matter how one looks at this issue, it is either fight into chaos or leave into chaos, hence, a lose-lose situation. Only a small window remains, the choice; lies in the hands of the U.S. A scary thought in itself.
At this moment in time, one may not be able to decide on what might result as this war but one can use history to speculate at the possibilities. The first example in history is that of Rwanda, where in 100 days almost half the population was slaughtered by genocide. Much like in Iraq the genocide was fueled by a foreign Belgium who gave guns to “turn the oppressed into the oppressors.” The only difference is the time span. While Rwanda’s issue only lasted 100 days under the UN, the dilemma in Iraq has stretched over the span of 3 years, without any light at the end of the tunnel. The answer is as evident as the problem. The probability of success and failure depend on international support. No matter how strong the U.S. might be, it can never take on the whole world and win. This is a lesson humans should have learnt form historical times of the world wars.
The boundaries of this war have stretched far from the middle east and affected many countries. For instance, in Nepal innocent men are being lured into a vision of a life abroad and with fake papers, promised successful jobs. In the mean time, subcontractors plan these very people’s routes into Iraq, there they work them at military bases. Despite, the unfair sweatshop conditions, the workers can hardly complain as their travel documents are taken from them and restrained until the contract is over. This morally defeats all the standards of humanity as innocent lives are put at stake. Although most people are lucky to live, some like Bishnu Hari Thapa and his 12 friends, are held at gunpoint for nothing. A dream of a man, a son, a father and a life, quickly terminated with unimaginable brutality. The blame of this can’t only go to the terrorists but rather to the deceitful traffickers who feed poor people out to make a living, as a sacrifice to a morally corrupt cause. This shows the lack of humanity on both sides of the war. When basic rights of a man is taken away that is a crime, a crime worth punishment and the USA, along side it’s terrorist counterparts can and should be held guilty. There is only one way out of this and that is to break Mr. Bush’s relation with OIL, thus, breaking his relations with the middle east. We need to help create a better Iraq for the people. No matter how one looks at this dilemma, whether be it, historically, politically, economically or even morally, all the lenses show “MISTAKE” imprinted in big bloody letters. This is a mistake the U.S. has made for centuries and this time, it’s one time too many. This war has nothing to gain, only a loss. A loss of lives; a loss of image; a loss of humanity; a loss of family; a loss of civil societies; a loss of morality and a loss of America as we know and love.