Ten years ago, more or less to the day, I wrote the following on the then Signs of the Times page:
“As I sit here, a motion in the UK House of commons has been defeated by some 415 votes to 149. Not that any other result would have stopped the US, yet it signifies a full green light for the attack on Iraq. Bush’s ‘ultimatum’ to Saddam expires at midnight (GMT) Thursday (7pm EST). “Shock and Awe” (read “death and destruction”) may come at any time between now and then. We have at most one day, one day left to ponder at the edge of the abyss before the coming darkness engulfs us all.
As if to mock those who are against this illegal invasion and the lies and deceit that have been used to justify it, Ari Fleishcer today stated that, even if Saddam went into exile now, the US would still invade. It’s not about WMD, it’s about domination and the destructive principle. Perhaps Ari feels he can be more truthful now that it is a ‘done deal’, now that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair have told the peace-loving people of the world to go f**k themselves. It must have been hard for Fleischer to stand up in front of the world’s media every day and lie so profusely. (Then again, maybe not).
It’s hard for me to describe the feelings I have right now; there is an enormous sense of impending doom, mixed with anger at being made to feel so helpless in the face of such rampant psychopathy. Who are these men that they can simply decide to throw the world and its inhabitants into “war without end”, and who are we that they could, for so long, fool us with such pathetic and barely-disguised lies and know that we would just roll over and let them get away with it?”
Ten years ago today, the US and British military (with a posse of cowed ‘allies’ in tow) launched ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ aka ‘Shock and Awe’ aka, ‘Operation Destroy the Critical Infrastructure of Iraq and Initiate an Overt Decade-long Attack on – and Occupation of – the Iraqi People.’ To date, at least 1.5 million Iraqi civilians have been murdered, and at least 5 million displaced from their homes as a direct result of ‘liberation’. This on top of millions killed and impoverished by US-led economic sanctions in the preceding decade. Deadly car bombings continue to this day. Suffice to say, Iraq was not liberated: it was destroyed, and destroyed deliberately.
Last week, the UK Guardian newspaper published the results of a 15-month investigation by the Guardianand BBC Arabic. Euphemistically titled ‘James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq‘, the video report presents fairly damning evidence that, in the immediate aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq, the US Government and military began to assemble a 10,000 strong ‘Shia militia’ that, under US command, would be used to do three things:
- Kidnap, torture, murder and maim members of the Iraq resistance and those members of the Iraqi population that supported them.
- Plants bombs that targeted predominantly Sunni and Shia areas in an effort to divide the population and thereby any unified resistance to the US occupation.
- Create the impression of a ‘civil war’ in Iraq that could be used by the US and European governments and militaries to justify the continued occupation of Iraq for ‘peace-keeping’ purposes.
While the 50 minute documentary is proof enough that Rumsfeld, Cheney, General Petraeus, and all the other NeoCon warhawks and CIA monsters consciously employed the services of former US Army Colonel James Steele in the organisation of death squads against the Iraqi grass-roots resistance (a tactic that he, Steele, had used against resistance movements in South America in the 1970s and 90′s), it panders to the official narrative that ‘sectarianism’ in Iraq was the root cause of the carnage that unfolded.
The so-called ‘Shia militia’ used by the American government (with the help and advice of British and Israeli counter-insurgency ‘experts’) were recruited directly by the CIA and people like James Steele to carry out extra-judicial murders of anyone they could loosely identify as ‘resistance’. In order to cloak this strategy, indiscriminate attacks on Iraqi civilians, Shia and Sunni alike, were carried out on a massive scale. Some of these individuals, in another setting, would be called ‘al-Qaeda’. Their usefulness in the employ of US warhawks in the Pentagon was doubly valuable because they both justified continued US occupation and provided ‘proof’ for the American War on Terror mythology, ex post facto, that the US was at war with the perpetrators of 9/11.
Whereas before the invasion in 2003 there was absolutely nothing to link 9/11 to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the creation of death squads (real) labelled ‘al Qaeda in Iraq’ (fictitious) ‘made real’ the lie that America and all Western civilization was at war against hordes of irrational and violent Muslims, and became the template for instigating terrorism to suppress popular uprisings in Yemen, Mali and elsewhere. Once they have people violent, they can wear down and manage the national popular resistance, ensuring no opposition to the real strategic objectives (namely the control of Middle Eastern oil). The US forces of occupation, along with their British counterparts, had long experience in what actually happens when you militarily invade and occupy a sovereign nation: the people resist, and not just one ethnic or religious group, but more or less the whole population. There is nothing quite like a foreign occupation for uniting a country.
The British pursued this policy in Northern Ireland. First they sought the ‘Criminalisation’ of the conflict (presenting all resistance as ‘terrorists’) and then the ‘Ulsterisation’ of the conflict, which sought to create the impression among the wider British and world public that the struggle in Northern Ireland was an internal ‘sectarian conflict’, with the British playing the role of the frustrated ‘peace-keepers’. Both strategies were outlined in an unpublished 1975 British strategy paper titled ‘The Way Ahead‘. As part of the effort to create the reality of a ‘civil war’, death squads were used to attack civilians from both communities (Catholic and Protestant).
In Iraq, these US-controlled ‘Shia’ death squads have been operating in much the same way, and while the media is content to portray them as ordinary Shias motivated by religious bias, they are in fact hired thugs who value only the money they are paid by their US masters and the promise of positions of power in a future Iraqi government. Like the rank and file of the ‘Libyan rebels’ and the ‘Free Syrian Army’, these people form the dregs of Arab and Middle Eastern societies. Led by spellbinders who veil their barbaric actions with religious prose, secular leaders in the region, like Ghaddafi and Assad, and Nasser and Arafat before them, struggled in vain to keep them at bay. The reason for this is because the US, Britain, France and Israel have consistently supported – in the form of weapons, money, training and blatant lies – the extremists against the rational voices.
Throughout the US occupation of Iraq, the main representative of Shias in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, has repeatedly called for unity among Shia and Sunni Iraqis in the face of foreign occupation and deception in the form of efforts to divide the resistance. These efforts included the bombing of bridges in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities in an effort to prevent communication between Iraqis, the use of widespread terror tactics to force Sunni and Shia Iraqis to flee their homes, and the bombing of religious shrines, either Shia or Sunni, in an effort to create the reality of ‘sectarian strife’.
Iraq today is in ruins. The country has been ripped apart socially, mainly by way of the literal ripping apart of tens of thousands of civilians, with many being first brutally and systematically tortured by US-sponsored death squads. Hundreds of thousands more have been summarily murdered, either by the bombs of US aircraft, the bullets of US soldiers, or those ubiquitous and very effective ‘car bombs‘ planted by US and British operatives and their hired thugs.
‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ brought death and destruction to an entire country of 26 million people. It is among the world’s worst crimes against humanity and it was deliberately and meticulously planned that way.