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
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
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.