March 19 marked the seventeenth anniversary of the United States led invasion of Iraq. However the barbarity went unnoticed with the western war mongers’ media ignoring the carnage. Here in Sri Lanka too the predominantly racist media is no exception.
In an article marking the anniversary columnist Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S.Davies said in the Information clearing house that;
Seventeen years ago, the U.S. armed forces invaded Iraq with a force of over 460,000 troops from all its armed services, supported by 46,000 UK troops, 2,000 from Australia and a few hundred from Poland, Spain, Portugal and Denmark. The “shock and awe” aerial bombardment unleashed 29,200 bombs and missiles on Iraq in the first five weeks of the war.
The U.S. invasion was a crime of aggression under international law, and was actively opposed by people and countries all over the world, including 30 million people who took to the streets in 60 countries on February 15, 2003, to express their horror that this could really be happening at the dawn of the 21st century.
American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who was a speechwriter for President John F. Kennedy, compared the U.S. invasion of Iraq to Japan’s preemptive attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and wrote, “Today, it is we Americans who live in infamy. “Thus stated the introduction to the article.
Iraq, a land where many great ancient civilisations such as Mesopotamia, Sumer, Akkad, Babylonian and Assyria flourished between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers for more than 7,000 years, was ruthlessly raped and ravaged by the European colonial powers followed by the United States to loot its oil wealth for more than a century.
For example, gaining control over Iraq’s oil wealth had been the focus of US policy, even before World War I and demanded in the post-war era that its oil companies be allowed to negotiate free with the corrupt Iraqi monarch.
Major oil explorations began in 1927 and huge deposits were found in the Mosul area. The Iraqi Petroleum Company, comprising British Petroleum (then Anglo-Iranian), Shell, Mobil and Exxon (then Standard Oil of New Jersey), enjoyed complete monopoly. They divided the spoils of Iraqi oil among the US, Britain, France and Holland, 23.75 percent each, while the remaining five percent went to oil baron Caloste Gulbenkin who negotiated the deal.
The irony was, the Iraqis, the legitimate owners of the oil, were deprived of their own wealth. The revolts of the Arabs and Kurds protesting against this unjust colonial arrangement were ruthlessly suppressed and in 1925, Britain deploying gas from warplanes for the first time in history, dropped poison gas on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Sulaimaniya.
Despite all these atrocities and conspiracies Iraq, in the aftermath of the Baathist Revolution in 1968 and the early 1970s oil boom ,emerged as an almost developed country with modern infra-structure, health, educational and all other facilities and people enjoying a high standard of living.
Then came the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran when the US, Europe, Gulf and other Arab states persuaded then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to despatch his troops and triggered off the eight year with Iran war that killed more than a million people to the benefit of Israel and the arms industries in the West. Some estimated the cost of the war at around 100 billion dollars.
The war ended in 1988. However the US President George Bush Sr precipitated yet another political crisis by tricking Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait .Once Iraqi troops entered Kuwait, Bush Sr unleashed a ferocious media campaign followed by one of the most destructive bombing campaigns in known history and pushed Iraq to its pre-historic age. He used cluster bombs to rip bodies apart, napalm and white phosphorous to cling and burn skin and small nuclear bomb type fuel air explosives to cause other damage. The total amount of bombs dropped on Iraq was far more than the bombs dropped by the allies in the entire World War II. The military campaign, financed by the Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia, incinerated around 130,000 Iraqi civilians.
The western weapons industry flourished as they sold a staggering $ 157 billion worth of armaments.
Battered by aerial bombardments and crippled by UN sanctions that killed more than 500,000 children, Iraq was virtually an occupied country. Since 1991 Iraqis were subjected to untold misery, hardships, and more than one-third of the population exposed to malnutrition, epidemics, miscarriages and declining life expectancy.
In the footstep of his father President George Bush Jr invaded Iraq in March 2003. According to US media reports, Bush and his team of neo cons had planned a regime change in Iraq even before assuming office.
The American forces indiscriminately bombed Iraqi cities with unprecedented intensity and within days the war battered people were once again deprived of water, electricity, medicine, food and even shelter. Imagine the terrifying prospect for the ordinary Iraqi citizens who suffered incessant bombardment. Day in and day out the skies over Iraq rained bombs – and the most pernicious ones to boot – which shook the earth and relegated once thriving cities into bloody human abattoirs. Child survivors, many of them maimed for life, remain haunted by the nightmare of the gruesome catastrophe. Screaming in fear and panic, they simply could not comprehend why they were being subjected to such horror and heartlessness.
Then there emerged shocking pictures of American troops’ gang-raping Iraqi women. These hapless women were forcibly dragged out of their homes, screaming in terror, stripped naked and gang-raped by the very people who had ostensibly been there to protect them. Nonetheless, such criminal depravity had been committed by so-called civilised uniformed personnel representing the most powerful military nation on earth.
Among the victims, were ordinary housewives, mothers and daughters – all brought up in a decently conservative society and whose religious traditions have always valued feminine purity as a prerequisite for a happily wedded life? Did the Americans who perpetrated these appalling crimes ever stop to wonder that their victims were the same kind of women as their mothers and sisters at home?
Hundreds of thousands of innocent men and women were arbitrarily arrested and subjected to the most sadistic and savage forms of torture, which brought swift condemnation from all over the world. .
The US forces used the most vicious interrogation techniques including hooding, stripping detainees naked, subjecting them to extremes of heat, cold, noise and light, and depriving them of sleep – in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This heartless routine that included infliction of pain, discomfort and humiliation has expanded in all too many cases into vicious beatings, sexual degradation, sodomy, electrocution, near drowning, and near asphyxiation. Several detainees had died under questionable circumstances while in incarceration.
Obviously, these bestial crimes were kept under wraps until Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published a series of exposé articles illustrated by damning photos of the torture by US military police of prisoners in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib near Baghdad
It all started with a few disturbing pictures of naked prisoners piled on top of each other, others hooded and wired with electrodes. The photographs included images of a hooded prisoner with wires fixed to their bodies, nude inmates piled in a human pyramid – a lewd type of Karma Sutra circus where the performers were forced into simulating mass sexual techniques. The harrowing pictures also showed a dog savagely attacking a prisoner and other inmates being forced to masturbate or simulate sex with each other.
The destruction of Iraq had been so meticulously planned, embracing every aspect that one of their main aims was to physically eliminate academics, professionals and other intellectuals from the society for generations to come.
According to Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government the estimated cost of the Iraq war in 2008 was more than $ 3 trillion.
The helpless Iraqis expected their Arab brothers to protect them. Instead, Egypt stood fully behind Bush and Blair while Saudi Arabia supplied the American troops with petrol and airport facilities to bomb the Iraqis.
Ends 27 March 2020.