The Iraqi people fought and died for the sake of us all — martyrs in the Christian, no less than in the Muslim sense of the word. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the “chicken hawks” junta that seized the American administration illegally by rigging the 2000 presidential election are totally deranged, totally corrupt and totally cynical. Their blueprint for world domination (set out in black and white in a September 2000 document) is a Mein Kampf. Their corporate linkages are so blatantly venal as to be the envy of a Somoza, while their intricate web of lies and deception would make an amateur out of a Goebbels. Courtesy of another band of maniacal marauders — Bin Laden and co — they got their Reichstag fire.
Condoleezza Rice was quoted in The New Yorker last April admitting that soon after 9/11 she called together senior members of the National Security Council and asked them “to think about ‘how do you capitalise on these opportunities'”.
The martial madness has been unleashed. It must be stopped — no less than the survival of the human species is at stake.
Mr Blair has been harping on about Chamberlain and his appeasement. There is great irony in this, for the New Labourite premier is nothing like the imperialist and self-avowed racist Tories he so likes to emulate. His place in history will not be that of an intractable Winston Churchill, nor even that of a bungling Anthony Eden. He will have to look across the Channel for his historical antecedents: a certain Marshal Petin.
Faced with wholly unexpected resistance from the Iraqi people, the murderous thugs in Washington and London had by the end of week two of the war removed the last of their “Iraqi freedom” masks, showing the world the monstrous face of merciless war criminals. Baghdad and Basra were being systematically destroyed, thousands of “chicks” — women, children and men of all ages — were “in the way”, and they were being systematically and cold- bloodedly put to the slaughter.
Donny Rumsfeld, we are told, often quotes the legendary Mafia boss, Al Capone. And in proper Mafia style he began to eliminate witnesses; journalists, not “embedded in” (read: in bed with) the war criminals’ armed forces, were to be eliminated.
So early Tuesday, the offices of two Arab satellite channels, Al-Jazeera and Abu-Dhabi, were deliberately targeted. Later that same day, the Palestine Hotel, where most foreign reporters working out of Baghdad have been based, was shelled by tank fire. Three journalists, including Al-Jazeera’s Tarek Ayyoub, were killed.
John Pilger, writing in The Independent of 6 April noted, “Covering this [killing of civilians] in a shroud of respectability has not been easy for George Bush and Tony Blair. Millions now know too much; the crime is all too evident. Tam Dalyell, Father of the House of Commons, a Labour MP for 41 years, says the prime minister is a war criminal and should be sent to The Hague. He is serious, because the prima facie case against Blair and Bush is beyond doubt.”
The murderous brutality of the bombings of Baghdad and Basra, the images of killed and injured children (will we ever know the real figures for Iraq’s dead and maimed?), the unabashed cruelty of the scenes of hooded, cuffed and viciously manhandled civilian and military captives (so familiar from footage of Israeli soldiers rampaging in the West Bank and Gaza) — and this by the very soldiers whose government officials were screeching “Geneva Conventions” when a handful of American POWs were paraded before television cameras — none of it tells even half the horror story unfolding before our very eyes.
We now know, despite all the subterfuge and the criminal slavishness of the corporate media, that the invasion of Iraq was planned even before the chicken hawks and their paranoiac leader rigged their way into the White House. We know of the Project for a New American Century, among whose founders are none other than Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Dubya’s own maniacal ‘thinker’, Richard Perle and, who else, Jeb Bush, the Florida brother who gave George the presidency.
We know of the chicken hawks’ seminal report: “Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century”. We know that, far from being concerned about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein (which Bush said were giving him sleepless nights), the chicken hawks’ blueprint for global domination openly stated more than two years ago, “While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for the presence of a substantial American force in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
We also know, thanks to Bob Woodward, that on the morning of 12 September 2001 (that is before anything at all was known about the culprits of the 9/11 atrocity), Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be “a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism”. Secretary of State Colin Powell stayed his hand — for a while.
And now, after four weeks of death and destruction, Baghdad has fallen.
On the way to this once magnificent seat of Haroun Al-Rashid, The Guardian’s James Meek came across Marine Sgt Michael Sprague by a bridge outside the city of Nasseriya. “A few miles from the bridge to the south lie the ruins of the ancient city of Ur, founded 8,000 years ago, the birth place of Abraham and a flourishing metropolis at a time when the inhabitants of north-west Europe were still walking round in animal skins,” Meek observed. Sgt Sprague, from White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, noted Meek, never knew it was there. Rather, he complained: “I’ve been all the way through this desert from Basra to here and I ain’t seen one shopping mall or fast food restaurant. These people got nothing. Even in a little town like ours of 2500 people you got a McDonald’s at one end and a Hardee’s at the other.”
Back in the White House, George W Bush, so mindful of the importance of the moment that, according to USA Today, he gave up on sweets just before the invasion, is no doubt communicating with God over how he, his chicken hawks and Sgt Sprague from West Virginia are going to be lording it over us all.
HANI SHUKRALLAH writes a weekly column for the Cairo-based al-Ahram newspaper.