A little over 1 year later, we are left with a sad story about oil, greed, freedom fries and weapons of mass destruction. It was never about democracy.
Something went wrong last year, something important, that shouldn’t be forgotten. Namely that the second Gulf War was started on false premises. It is important to remember, because this fact alone signifies not only a major democratic problem, but a significant change in the way nations wage war. It is a dangerous precedent, that an invasion can be justified by bad “military intelligence”.
Denial and Deception
In February, 2003, Colin Powell visited the UN in an attempt to rally support for an invasion of Iraq. In a colorful presentation set in big bold, beveled letters entitled “Iraq – Failing to disarm”, he presented the U.S. case.
He mentioned several reasons why invading Iraq was absolutely critical at that time; Saddam Hussein had attempted to obtain nuclear weapons materials from Africa. Saddam Hussein had connections with Al Quaeda. Iraq posed an imminent threat to the U.S. and the iraqi neighbors. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
- The evidence that Saddam had tried to obtain nuclear weapons materials from Africa was forged.
- The claim that Saddam Hussein had connections with Al Quaeda, was later contradicted and withdrawn.
- The “imminent threat” that Iraq supposedly pose, is invariably tied together with the fact that no weapons of mass destruction was ever found in Iraq. The U.S. has virtually given up on the search. David Kay, former top U.S. weapons inspector plainly said, “we were all wrong”. Rumsfeld even lied about his statements about the urgency of the war.
All this seems to have been forgotten. But it is a vitally important fact, that the war was started on false premises. It is a point that cannot be argued.
Instead, the purpose has changed. Now the war is no longer about disarming a threat, it’s about liberating a country.
“America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people” – From State of the Union address, January 2004
Indeed the capture of Saddam Hussein was a positive step, but the master-plan for removing him from his throne was flawed all along. The amount of troops needed to fight the war was miscalculated, not to mention the consequences…
“Things have gotten so bad inside Iraq … we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” – Cheney, prior to the war
– Instead the troops were met with a guerilla war.
I cannot claim to have all the answers to what should have been done instead of this war. But initiating a preemptive war based on false premises, with a flawed plan, without UN support definately wasn’t the way to go.
In fact, it all comes down to cause and effect. The cause for the war, was forged. The effects are yet to unfold. I hope for the best, but fear the worst.
Why not North Korea?
There are many wrongs, in our messy little world. As a planet, we should strive to right these wrongs, and make it a better place. Iraq, did indeed have a brutal dictator, and the cruelties commited in the former regime were unforgivable. No-one can argue this. Something had to be done.
But is this different from what happens in China, North Korea, Cambodia and most parts of Africa? No. Cruelties and atrocities happen every day, all over the world. This doesn’t mean we should stand by idly and do nothing, quite the contrary. But when pondering specifically the Iraq war, one has to think, why Iraq, when there are so many other places just like it? Well for one, North Korea probably has nukes, so we can’t “liberate them” right at the moment. The same goes for China. Africa is quite a mouthful. And Iraq has oil. That’s right, the precious black commodity that flows in tonnes, every day. In a world where oil fuels our entire society, I refuse to believe that the second largest proven oil reserve had nothing to do with the choice… of “liberating Iraq”.
In latin, democracy means “people’s choice”. The word alone, is contrary to the idea that it can be forced upon a country with shock and awe. It is no longer about choice.
Democracy must be learned. We know that from the USSR—they are still learning to this day—but the seeds of free elections have been sown, and it has been born from within. I believe that Russia will remain democratic, and learn to appreciate its values.
Perhaps Iraq can too. But with guerilla wars, an inflamed middle east, terror attacks and casualties daily, it is a country that has been broken. We cannot force western ideologies and values upon such a country. The only thing the war has brought Iraq is destruction. How can we expect the iraqi people to trust that “we know better”? We broke Iraq, and so say the values we preach: “If you break it, you buy it”.
It looks like we just bought Iraq for many years to come, and if we want to force democracy, it’ll be expensive.
Was there really, no other way?