Another day and yet more death and destruction in the Middle East country.
The latest violence has killed at least 54 people and injured over 100 others. In July, over 1,000 people were killed and over 2,300 wounded.
You probably think I’m talking about Syria. But I’m not. I’m talking about Iraq. The country that George W. Bush and Tony Blair ‘liberated’ in 2003. The western military intervention was, we were told, going to usher in a wonderful era of democracy, freedom and human rights. Instead, it has ushered in an appalling decade-long blood-fest, with ordinary Iraqis having to endure a living nightmare of life in what has become one of the most dangerous countries on earth.
Rather like Sherlock Holmes’ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the silence of pro-war commentators and politicians when it comes to the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq is most revealing.
The same elite figures in the West who couldn’t stop writing or talking about Iraq in 2002 and early 2003, telling us what a terrible threat Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ were to us all, and how we needed to go to war with Iraq not only to disarm its evil dictator but to ‘liberate’ its people, are now silent in the light of the continuing bloodshed and havoc that the illegal invasion caused. In the run up to the invasion of March 2003, you couldn’t switch on a television news program in Britain or America without seeing a neo-con or ‘liberal interventionist’ obsessing about Iraq. In the lead-up to war, these great ‘humanitarians’ feigned concern for the plight of Iraqis living under Saddam’s dictatorship – but today show little or no concern for the plight of Iraqis being blown to pieces by bombs on a regular, almost daily basis. There are no calls from the ‘usual suspects’ for a Western ‘humanitarian’ intervention to stop the killing in Iraq. For these serial interventionists, Iraq, post-invasion, has become the greatest ‘non-story’ of the modern era. Instead, the same people who couldn’t stop talking about Iraq in 2002-2003 now can’t stop talking about Syria – feigning concern over the plight of Syrians in the same way they shed crocodile tears over Iraqis in early 2003.
It’s interesting that when it comes to casualty tolls, pro-war politicians can tell us exactly how many people have died in Syria since the violence started there in 2011, (and of course for them, all the deaths are the personal responsibility of President Assad), whereas when it comes to Iraq and the number of people who have been killed there since March 2003, there’s a great deal more vagueness. “We don’t do body counts on other people” Donald Rumsfeld famously declared in November 2003. The Iraqis killed since March 2003 (and casualty figures vary from around 174,000 to well over one million) are, for our political elite, ‘non-people.’ In 2013, it’s only dead Syrians (and Syrians whose deaths can be blamed on Syrian government forces) that matter – not dead Iraqis.
Because Iraq is deemed a ’non-story’ and our leaders never talk about the situation there, it’s no surprise to see that public perceptions of the death toll are way below even the most conservative estimates. Sixty-six percent of Britons in a poll earlier this year estimated that 20,000 or fewer Iraqis had died since the invasion of 2003. Donald Rumsfeld would no doubt be delighted to hear that.
If they had any sense of shame, the people who have destroyed Iraq would at least have had the grace to retire from public life. But neo-cons and liberal imperialists don’t do shame or remorse. The same bunch of ’humanitarian’ interventionists and hawks who urged the invasion of Iraq in 2003 have spent the last two years propagandizing for an attack on Syria. These manic warmongers would rather we ‘move on’ from Iraq to focus on the next Middle Eastern country on their hit list. But we must never ’move on’ from Iraq until those who destroyed the country are put in the dock. The chaos and bloodshed we see in Iraq today is a direct consequence of the destabilizing and destructive neo-con policies of the US and Britain and those responsible for ‘the supreme international crime’ of waging a war of aggression against a sovereign state must be held to account for the enormous amount of human misery they have caused.