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PUCL Bulletin, June 2003

Another Vietnam in the making
- By Mahi Pal Singh, 9 April 2003

George W. Bush Jr's dream project 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' has so far proved to be a big disaster and belied all his calculations, and portends to be developing into another Vietnam for the US. Whatever claims of things proceeding in accordance with the plans he may be making in his press briefings, the fact remains that he cannot dislodge Saddam Hussain for power in Iraq without destroying all buildings in Iraq and killing everybody of the allied forces seen anywhere in Iraq till they see the corpses of Saddam Hussain and his family members, even if it means killing a major portion of the Iraqi population.

From the very beginning it has been clear to the world at large that the US has thrust a wholly immoral, unjust and illegal war on Iraq. It all began in the wake of the terrorist attack on the twin-towers in New York. First it was Afghanistan because Taliban, the ruling outfit of that country, and Osama Bin Laden who was operating from Afghanistan, and his Al-Qaeda network, were alleged to be behind that attack. It did not face any resistance in its war on Afghanistan as it was publicised to be a war against international terrorism, and the UN and the world opinion expressed its opposition to acts of terrorism in the US and elsewhere in the world in unequivocal term. The US even got the support of the Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan. The local population, which was tired of the oppressive rule of the Taliban regime, also welcomed the US forces. However, the US forces, with all their technologically sophisticated arms and equipment, could not capture or liquidate Bin-Laden who epitomizes terrorism.

Its success in dislodging the Taliban and installing a pro-US regime in Afghanistan encouraged the US to go further in the same direction in Iraq and liquidate Saddam Hussain, which was the unfinished task of the previous Iraqi war of 1991. Iraq has already been facing stringent economic sanctions imposed on it by the UN on the one hand and the US on the other leaving over 60% of the Iraqi population dependent on government rations, resulting in the death of lakhs of children due to hunger, malnourishment and illness. It has also been under the UN pressure to destroy its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) including biological and chemical weapons under supervision of the UN inspectors, who have been in search of such weapons ever since 1991, visiting all potential manufacturing and storage sites in the whole country but without any success in locating any such weapons in the possession of Iraq.

Before the Chief Inspector, Hans Blix, left Iraq a couple of days before the present war on Iraq began, he and his team had been successful in getting Iraqi authorities to agree to the destruction of most of the Al-Samoud missiles they possessed, which were actually destroyed in the presence of the UN inspectors, although they were much less deadlier than the Tomahawk missiles and cluster bombs, which are nothing short of Weapons of Mass Destruction, being used in Iraq by the US forces, resulting in the killing of innocent civilians including women and children in hundreds indiscriminately. The irony is that the US-led forces attacked Iraq treacherously immediately after the latter's destruction of its missiles which could have been used in the present war to defend its frontiers.

The Gulf War-II began with the expressed aim of disarming Iraq of its WMDs and biological and chemical weapons which various UN resolutions had demanded of Iraq, and which, if the reports of the UN weapons inspectors are to be believed, it does not possess. It is also equally true that the UN Security Council had not authorised the US to use force against Iraq to enforce the UN resolutions. In fact many members had expressed their opinion explicitly not to use force in the matter, and some permanent members had even threatened to use veto if the US insisted on a vote in the Security Council in favour of the use of force against Iraq, forcing the former to withdraw its proposal from Security Council.

Thus, it is clear beyond any doubt that this war is being fought both by the US and England illegally and in utter disregard of world opinion. It also became clear from unprecedented protest demonstrations that have been taking place all over the world against it, not only in other countries but also in the US and Britain. On March 17, Robin Cook, the Leader of the House of Commons even resigned in protest against Tony Blair's decision to join the war as an ally of the US, followed by the resignations of Home Minister John Denham and Junior Health Minister Lord Philp Hunt from Blair's ministry which are reflections of growing public opinion against the attack on Iraq.

So far as fighting a war against international terrorism is concerned, there is absolutely no evidence of Saddam Hussain having supported any terrorist organisation during the last twelve years, between the Gulf War-I and II against the US or any other country. And if the US had really been serious in its resolve to corner those shielding terrorists, Pakistan should have been its first target because of all known facts. Bin Laden is hiding even today in that country, and it was again that country which was providing all kinds of weapons and moral support to the Taliban also. There is also no doubt it is Pakistan which is aiding and abetting cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, and the US government has been provided with sufficient evidence of its involvement in, and support for, terrorist activities in India by the Indian government from time to time. But the US has chosen to ignore it completely.

That exposed the double standards adopted by the US in its stand on terrorism. It also underlines the fact that the US sees terrorists where there are none, and none where there are many, absolutely arbitrarily, making it clear to the world that in name of fighting a war against international terrorism, the US is in fact implementing its policy of economic imperialism as well as military and political hegemony over people who can, at a point of time in future, prove to be a potential threat to its designs to enslave the world.

So far as the US's declared aim of liberating the people of Iraq from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussain, and establishing a democratic polity there, is concerned, the moot question is - who has given the US authority to do so? Did the people of Iraq ask for it? Did the UN, which by itself has no authority to do so, authorize it to undertake this task? The aggression on Iraq is plain and simple attack on the sovereignty and freedom of the people of Iraq to choose their own form of government and to choose their leader themselves, without any interference by anybody -- big or small. Apart from that, the bare fact is that there is absolutely no democratic government in the whole oil-rich Arab world and the US has been an ally of many of the worse dictatorships in that part of the world. And if one were to go a step further, the US has the history of supporting the most brutal and barbaric dictatorships all over the world against those trying to bring in a democratic social order in their societies.

It supported Pakistani dictators not only against India, which is the biggest democracy in the world, in the 1965 war but also against the popular uprising in the then East Pakistan in 1971, although the people there were only demanding the establishment of democracy under their elected leader Sheikh Mujiburrahman. It is also true that when India, faced with the exodus of millions of refugees from East Pakistan and on the request of the people of that part of Pakistan, entered into a conflict with Pakistan to save the people there from the brutalities, rapes and killings perpetrated by the military janta of Pakistan, the most powerful naval fleet, the Seventh Fleet, led by the biggest aircraft carrier, the Enterprise, was sent to the Bay of Bengal by the US in support of Pakistan, but for the arrival of Russian destroyers which came to the rescue of Indian forces immediately, the US forces would have terrorised and rendered the Indian forces immediately, the US forces would have terrorised and rendered the Indian forces incapable of undertaking the operation in East Pakistan and millions more would have been killed by the Pakistani army in East Pakistan; and Bangladesh rule by a democratically elected government would not have come into being. With the dismantling of the USSR in 1991, which was capable of acting as a deterrent and balancing force to the hegemonic designs of the US, the latter has developed into a multi-headed monster, like the multi-warheaded ballistic missiles it possesses, and a rogue state, it likes to call others, because it is none other than the US which always has an eye on the oil of some states and other economic resources of some others. Iraq has been targeted for no other reason than a control on its oil.

Whether the US-led forces in Iraq will succeed in capturing Saddam Hussain alive, only time will tell. But the way he has led his forces in countering the enemy's attack on his country, and aroused a nationalist feeling in his countrymen, and in fact a fraternal feeling in most of the Arab world, it seems that he would rather die than flee his country or surrender before the enemy to be insulted and humiliated. He has appealed to his countrymen to fight out the enemy even if they have to convert themselves into human bombs to wipe out the enemy.

In response nearly four thousand volunteers from the neighbouring countries are said to have volunteered to lay down their lives for the protection of the Iraqi and Arab honour. Some people from Iraq have actually laid down their lives as 'fidaeen'. It is clear now that if Saddam Hussain dies in the present attack, he will become a national hero and will continue to inspire more people for the supreme sacrifice when the US-led forces settle in the country to establish their control over the cities. Hence even if the actual war ends sooner than it is likely to stretch, it will give rise to fidaeen or terrorist attacks on American soldiers and interests for a longer time to come. Thus American's declared aim of liquidating terrorism will not only fail but also prepare another Vietnam for the US to cope with.
If this self-ordained liberator of the people of the world, the US, is to be kept under restraint, the world community will have to sit down and devise means to do so, otherwise one state after the other will continue to become its target.

The European Union has taken some steps to safeguard their economic interests. Many countries like France and Germany have not only dissociated themselves from the attack on Iraq but also opposed it vehemently. Some mutual defence pacts will have to come up. Given the present inclination of the US administration towards Pakistan, India will have to explore the possibility of a multi-lateral treaty with Russia and China to form a powerful group to save the rights of the people of this part of the world. If the Arab world is really serious about ensuring a homeland for the Palestinians and protecting their own sovereignty, they will have to forget their mutual differences and strengthen the Arab League. These organisations have become necessary not to attack and enslave any other country but to protect themselves from the onslaught of the US exploitation, pressure, invasion and enslavement.

Devising means of self-protection has become necessary also because the UN has outlived its utility in ensuring peace in the world and the human rights of individuals, particularly those living in the developing countries. The US has cried from rooftops on several occasions that what need to be protected are the rights and interests of the people of that country and those of its allies, even if it means inflicting death and misery on lakhs of innocent people, including infants and women, elsewhere in the world, through the use of deadly weapons including Weapons of Mass Destruction, even it means using nuclear weapons, or through economic sanctions, imposed by it or through the good offices of the UN which, unfortunately, has acted in accordance with the whishes of that country or been bypassed by it.

The structure and functioning of the UN will have to be seriously reviewed by all the member states to make it effective in ensuring the human rights of all the people of the world, whether from a powerful country or from a tiny underdeveloped country, and peace, not only between two powerful countries or blocks, though there hardly exist any blocks in this unipolar world today where the US rules the roost, but also between the most powerful country on the one hand and a small, unprotected country on the other. For this many more countries may have to be provided with the veto power, or the veto power vested in the five most powerful countries of the world may have to be withdrawn. Sovereignty of states has no meaning if it cannot be protected, and membership of the UN has no meaning if each and every state, whether big or small, does not have an equality of status as a member of that organisation. UN, likewise, has no justification for its existence if it is unable to protect the small states against the powerful ones, because the powerful one hardly needs any UN for their own protection. While America is likely to be engrossed in the fallout of the war on Iraq, the world community must engage itself in finding solutions to these questions if world peace and universal human rights are not to become obsolete phrases without any meaning.

 

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