A Criminal War on Iraq
Mumbai, April 2003
[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force....She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit....
John Quincy Adams, 6th president of the USA.
Not only will the United States impose preemptive, unilateral military force when and where it chooses, but the nation will also punish those who engage in terror and aggression and will work to impose a universal moral clarity between good and evil.
George W. Bush, 43th president of the USA.
The war waged on Iraq by the US and its supporters is an atrocity and deserves to be condemned by all ethical people.
The invaders claim to be bringing democracy to Iraq. But you cannot bring democracy to a people by violence. As Gandhi said, "I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." This war will set back the progress of Iraq towards becoming a meaningful democracy. For now Iraq will merely become a puppet state of the US, not at all the same as a democracy.
There was never any reason to believe the US government's sincerity about its professed aim of promoting democracy in the Middle East. Historically, US governments have always supported pro-US governments (however non-democratic) over democracies which would not be servile to the US. Thus the US cannot claim an interest in bringing democracy to any other country, unless by definition democracy is equivalent to a pro-US position. It is astonishing to me that any educated person would support this incredibly self-serving and unethical ideology.
In support of the above, let me point out to the reader that I have grown up in a democracy (India) to which for most of its existence the US has been rather hostile - the sole reason being that Indian politics did not have the desired pro-US tilt. If the US government has ever genuinely supported Indian democracy as a matter of principle, someone ought to let me know with an example.
Now about Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a pro-US dictator until, in 1990, he defied the US. Until that time the US supported him (against Iran), even after he gassed the Kurds. After that it turned against him. One would be happy to see the last of Saddam Hussein, but that will not mean the end of dictatorship, or the restoration of democracy in Iraq. As anyone with the slightest intelligence can predict, if democracy comes to Iraq and results in an anti-US government, the US will will make sure to subvert it. Supporting democracy is a difficult thing because it means respecting other peoples' right to differ. (If this is part of the ideology of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, then I have somehow missed noticing it.) On the other hand, if democracy means "you can hold any view you like as long as it's the same as mine", then Iraq was already a democracy. After all 99% of populace voted for Saddam, as it was the only choice they had. How similar is the logic of Bush to that of his enemy!
Notice that Turkey, France and Germany have been villified in the US because they did not support this war. But their (democratically elected) leaders were certainly following the wishes of their people. Another proof (if any were needed) that the US government does not seek democracy outside its borders. It seeks pro-US positions.
This is an imperialist war in a very literal sense. The intention is to create an economic and political empire in the Middle East. As in previous imperialist conquests, the action is sought to be justified as noble and humane. But the subtext, employed to sell it to the citizens, is racist and religious-fundamentalist. Many US citizens see the present war as "revenge on Arabs" for September 11, and as a religious crusade of "Christian values" against militant Islam. This despite the well-acknowledged fact that Iraq was not involved in September 11 and has long been one of the most secular countries in the Middle East. A pliant, pro-government media in the US has helped market the illusion that this war is somehow related to September 11.
As of this writing, the war has caused thousands of civilian deaths, maimed children, destroyed valued buildings, reduced the economy to a shambles and forced citizens to suffer without water, electricity, food and medical care. Now the region's glorious history has been lost too, as the Baghdad Museum was pillaged of priceless antiquities while the Marines shirked their responsibility. All this has been done for the sole purpose of replacing the regime in Iraq by one which is pro-US. Much like Bin Laden, Bush has enlisted support for his actions by spreading disinformation and playing on the fear and ignorance of people in his region. And the damage done to Iraq is already greater than that wrought by September 11 in the US. How does one distinguish this war from an act of terrorism?
I take some comfort in the fact that not only around the world, but also within the US there has been considerable condemnation of this criminal war. I don't know if it's having any impact, but we should all speak out anyway.
Here are a few links which relate to some of the points which I have tried to make above:
The Good Dictators (by Gary Younge)P.S. If you are planning on sending me hate mail for the above comments, save your energy. I have my finger on the button (the delete button, of course). Polite mails disagreeing with me are welcome, though my ability to respond will be limited by time available.
Not Again (by Arundhati Roy)
Bin Laden's Victory (by Richard Dawkins)
Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates (by Arundhati Roy)
Iraq is a Trial Run (by Noam Chomsky)
It's Time to Take Action Against Our Wars on the Rest of the World (interview with Gore Vidal).