The Human Rights Crisis in Iraq
“The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.”
– James Baldwin
The human costs of the adventures of the U.S., EU/NATO and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) axis of evil over the last decade have been enormous. In an all-too-familiar spectacle last week, the 500,000 human beings – men, women and children – who fled the war torn city of Mosul, joined the millions throughout the Middle East and worldwide whose lives have been turned into a living hell by the policies of a moribund Western elite who still believe that the world is their personal chess board and people and nations are disposable pawns to be used and discarded at will.
When Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor under President Carter, formulated the plan to draw the Soviet Union into becoming more directly involved in Afghanistan by arming a force of anti-communist Islamic fundamentalists who would wage war on the secular and progressive nationalist government in that country, there was no consideration for the consequences of that decision for the people of Afghanistan or even for what would happen to those glorious anti-communist warriors once they were no longer needed. For Carter, Brzezinski, Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton and all of the servants of the capitalist elite, the value attached to the lives of non-Westerners has always had a utilitarian quality that was based on the degree to which they served or were in alignment with Western interests. And even when that was the case, those lives were only considered so long as they advanced the longer term interests of the West.
It is only as a result of the callous manipulations of the elites when they experience “blowback” in the form of a 9/11 attack or the uprising in Iraq that the reality of the “other” is recognized, but then only in the Fanonian sense that it is through the violent expressions of the “others” that the reality of their existence is acknowledged, though not their fundamental humanity.
Unfortunately, for the people of Iraq, the racist, colonialist fantasies of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney – who convinced themselves that the dignity of the Iraqi people was so thin that they would welcome foreign invaders as liberators – are once again being conjured with bizarre theories that U.S. airpower will somehow accomplish what thousands of ground forces were unable to do – defeat what is turning out to be a broad-based uprising among Sunnis, that includes the U.S. and GCC supported Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) – that has now evolved into a force with a significant degree of autonomy - against what they see as a neocolonial Shia dominated government put in place by U.S. occupation forces.
Republicans, many Democrats, and (once again) some confused segments of the U.S. left are calling for some kind of intervention to block what is being widely reported in the Western media as a foreign invasion by ISIS. While U.S. authorities make plans for some form of direct intervention, the people of Iraq are preparing themselves to once again be on the receiving end of a “humanitarian” war to save them from a situation that the U.S. created itself with the invasion in 2003 and the ill-fated attempt to dislodge al-Assad from the presidency in Syria.
The corporate capitalist airways are filled with the talking heads of empire who are disingenuously framing the rapid deterioration of the Iraqi government as the result of two factors: the decision not to force the Iraqi entity to enter into a status-of-forces agreement that would have allowed 10,000 soldiers to remain in the country; and the ineptitude of the al-Maliki government to properly manage the distorted state and obliterated society that the U.S. bestowed on the new government.
These private spokespersons, many of whom were the very same incompetents who developed and operationalized the criminal invasion in 2003, to a person have not discussed the three elements that really explain the current situation in Iraq – the 2003 invasion, the fact that the U.S. lost the war and was forced to retreat, and the predictable destabilization of Iraq as a consequence of arming Sunni extremists in Syria to overthrow the government of Bashir al-Assad.
On those first two elements, responsibility clearly rests with the war criminals of the Tony Blair and George W. Bush regimes. But on the last issue, the illegal arming and training of an insurgent force to undermine the sovereignty of an established state – that crime rests with President Barack Obama and his administration.
Democrats, including what is referred to as the “progressive” caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and other caucus groups, along with the unprincipled and opportunist collection of Democratic party hacks at the Center for American Progress, the New American Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the other liberal and mainstream institutions and publications who gave direct or tacit support to the foolish Bush era strategy to destroy Syria, all place the blame for the “debacle” in Iraq on al-Maliki. And while many of these elements opposed the Bush attack on Iraq, the moral basis for their opposition to direct war by the U.S. in Iraq under a Republican president failed them in response to the indirect war waged on Syria by a Democrat president. In both cases, it was war that was unleashed, and in both cases outside the parameters of international law and in opposition to the wishes and interests of the vast majorities of the peoples of those nations.
The delusional declaration that the foreign armies of the U.S. would be greeted as liberators in Iraq has been as devastating as the equally delusional support for a “moderate” opposition that would collaborate with foreign sources to wage war on their fellow citizens. All of this was predicted. Many of us who opposed the arrogant and illegal destabilization plan for Syria did so from the perspective that not only would the plan result in massive loss of life in Syria, but that its effect would inflame the entire region, especially since it was clear that the strategy was to sectarianize the battle in Syria. Even reports and analyses from publications on the right to more moderate and centrist publications like The National Interest recognized that the dangerous and incoherent policies in Syria were going to destabilize the entire region.
And even though for many of us the strategic necessity for opposing the machinations of the U.S., NATO and their GCC client-states in Syria was clear, the confused liberal left faced an ideological and political conundrum: While most opposed the illegal war on Iraq, they nevertheless surrendered to national and racial chauvinism and gave ideological and political support to the illegal war waged against Syria. But now, with the predictable result that the war in Syria has created conditions and a political argument for the militarists in favor of a military return to Iraq, the liberal/left is finding it hard to formulate a coherent let alone morally and politically consistent position on the issue of U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
And in light of the fact that policies operationalized over the last six year are responsible for the increased violence and destabilization in the region, the blame Bush position expressed by the defenders’ of Obama’s policy options in Iraq and the ongoing violence and chaos in the Middle-East is unconvincing.
These defenders of Obama are unable to accept that historically when reference is made to the criminal activities associated with the last gasps of empire in the Middle East, Obama’s policies and Obama himself will be linked to the infamous cast of war criminals alongside Tony Blair and George W. Bush – company that he has earned along with a legacy that will forever tarnish his presidency. But he will not be alone, with the blood that is flowing and will flow in Iraq and Syria, the hands of Democratic party operatives and their supporters who collaborated with U.S. power will also be stained with the blood of innocents.
Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. His latest publications include contributions to two recently published books “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” and “Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.AjamuBaraka.com