People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 13

March 31, 2013



Tenth Anniversary of Iraq Invasion


Nilotpal Basu


UNTIL now, the barbarity committed by Nazis in Auschwitz or Dachau was the ultimate in war. The barbarity against humanity by the Nazis and fascists in Spain provoked Pablo Picasso to paint his classic Guernica or Romain Rolland or Tagore to pen some of the classics in protest literature.  The revulsion of the world to this infamous chapter is recorded in modern history.  World’s response was Nuremberg with most comprehensive trial against war crimes.


It was in course of these trials that the Nuremberg principles were enunciated and found their way into the Geneva Convention.  The essence was defining crime against peace, against mindless massacre of civilian population, of using weapons and methods which could lead to civilian deaths. 


With the Tenth anniversary of Iraq invasion, its genesis and aftermath are coming under microscope.  The ‘coalition of the willing’ forged by the US -in the wake of the Security Council’s refusal to intervene militarily in Iraq- the attack initiated is deemed as gross illegality.  But, the balance sheet of the last decade explicitly establishes this as one of the most depraved exercise that humanity has ever seen; perhaps at times paling Nazi atrocities.


Why was Iraq attacked?  In the run-up to the invasion, the Bush administration with its top brass Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al engineered the blitz that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had its hands on “yellow cake uranium” and a massive arsenal of WMD; Condoleezza Rice being most perversely poetic –“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud?”  Donald Rumsfeld was instrumental in amplifying the myth that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11.


Of course, there were others who were complicit in authoring what Noam Chomsky has termed ‘manufacturing consent’ among three quarters of Americans, on the basis of this myth.  The ‘stars’ of  global media like Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, in true Goebbelsian mode went on repeating ad nauseum the untruths disseminated by Bush administration.  It was not just O’Reilly but the whole corporate driven media; ABC, CNN, NPR, New York Times without exception joined the crescendo that invasion of Iraq is a ‘holy war’ against WMD! And, in the wake of not an ounce of weapon grade nuclear material recovered from occupied Iraq, O’Reilly managed a half-hearted apology for being atrociously wrong – “Well, my analysis was wrong and I’m sorry…I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all”; as if O’Reilly’s displeasure is enough to compensate millions of innocent peoples’ lives during last decade in Iraq. 


Then what was the real reason? The only apparently plausible answer is oil and hydrocarbons.  With the exit of most of the coalition forces, the big western oil companies have just started reaping super profits from huge and quality Iraqi oil reserves.  Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP & Shell are all there.  Not just the oil producers, the American oil service companies including Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s Texas based firm continue to rake in mullah from Iraq. 


Top US military and political brasses have candidly admitted the centrality of oil in prompting the invasion.  The poster boy of US armed forces Gen. John Abizaid, former Head of US Central Command and military operations in Iraq was unambiguous in 2007: “Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that.”  The key US economic and financial figure, former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan in his memoirs writes – “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everybody knows; the Iraq war is largely about oil”.  The present Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, had similarly observed in 2007 – “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.” 


The candor only confirms what was widely known in the run-up to Bush -Cheney campaign.  In 2000, the Big Oil, Exxon, Chevron et al put a huge amount for electing fellow oilmen  as the two top office of the administration.  The Bush administration responded by creating the National Energy Policy Development Group chaired by Cheney.  This group outlined the policy urging Middle East to “open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment”.  Key figures of occupation government were part of this group.  Bahr al – Uloum- the Iraqi oil minister was part of it. Therefore, representatives of Big Oil have become administrators of Iraq’s oil ministry and advised the Iraqi government.  They tried gamely to change the law for handing over the oil reserves to western oil companies for a song.  But having failed in such direct takeover, Big Oil has now ensured that there are long term contracts which allow them to export large quantity of oil without employing local workers; and, for all practical purposes, exclusively benefit their profit lines denying Iraq and her peoples’ urgent  welfare needs. 


Today, Iraq stands ravaged.  With a million people dead and four million displaced, roughly half inside, the country is a living hell for its citizens.  Identity clashes result in worst bloodletting – completely undermining the real basis of unity and integrity in the home of the oldest human civilisation. 



The darkness that seems to have engulfed Iraq and her people in the first decade of the new century makes it a valley of death, torture and unfreedom. Grotesque images are trickling out; of growing incidence of cancer and of malformed neonatals resulting from depleted uranium use. Though illegal, they are abundantly used; ironically to fight WMD of Saddam’s Iraq.


A single brave pediatrician Dr Sameera Alani who works on the crisis of congenital malformations of new born in Fallujah, all alone registering and cataloguing these cases has pointed out that incidence of such human horrific radioactive exposure induced deformities surpass rates fourteen fold compared to what were registered in  Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Her brave but singular effort attracts ‘Official Baghdad’ apathy; and that is a commentary enough on the gravity of the situation on the ground.


Who is accountable?  Had US been part of the International Criminal Court, Bush brigade would have been compelled to face trial like Nazis in Nuremberg.  But, there is hardly any change in the imperial attitude. Obama administration’s approach on Iran has a chilling resemblance with what Bush did in Iraq.


Obama does know the reality in Iran; but like Bush he doesn’t have the patience for Hans Blix - the Chief IAEA Weapons Inspector who refused to confirm WMD presence in Iraq and says that –“the war was a terrible mistake”. His Democrat controlled Senate has resolved that - “if the government of Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military and economic support” (Senate Resolution no. 65). Such back door authorisation of Israel’s intransigence is the US policy in West Asia.


India’s was the only parliament which unanimously opposed the invasion and the subsequent occupation. But Manmohan Singh government has failed that spirit, by legitimising the empire’s Iran policy. India’s role in IAEA was brazen in allowing the US led effort to politicise the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme and take it to the UN Security Council and voting in favour of such a move. The Indian parliament’s heroic resistance to Vajpayee government’s attempted complicity with the Iraq invasion has saved our nation some pride; but, it is precisely that spirit of independence which has been bartered away by the Manmohan Singh government on Iran.   


So, recounting this dark decade in Iraq, we can only repeat in unison Jean-Paul-Sartre’s somber optimism- “We will rise from death, invoking death upon death”. History is a great leveler. Howsoever unassailable an Empire may appear at any given point of time in history, it is inherently transient.