The resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq has revealed some things we should have known before Bush, Blair and Howard decided to illegally invade Iraq 11 years ago, writes Bob Ellis.
Events in Iraq this past week have shown us a few things we should have known 11 years ago, when Howard, Bush and Blair were planning “Shock and Awe” and the “decapitation” of the Ba’ath Party, the levelling of Babylon, the burning of the Great Library and the sacking of every middle class public servant they could nominate and hound into shame and poverty.
One is that ‘decapitating’ al-Qaeda’s leadership, in a culture where each family might have as many as seven brothers and a hundred and twenty male cousins, does little to stem its growth. Al-Qaeda’s greatest victory, taking Fallujah, did not precede the killing of Osama Bin Laden, it followed it; and thus, only eighteen months after Checkmate, it seems, we have another 9/11; God is great, peace be unto him.
Another is that thirty-three Christian countries invading a secular Muslim one may have been the silliest strategic move since the re-installation of the Shah. It meant (or it suggested to those on the ground awaiting the next bombardment) that the West now favoured the religious maniacs and a secular government (Saddam’s deputy was a Christian) would get no help in its best endeavours hereinafter, however democratic it was, from the aghast and scalded West, as Hamas in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt soon found out, or not in the present millennium anyhow.
And it also meant that the West could never again make war in that region, for however good a cause. It means that the Syrian killing will go on for fifty years and a million children die of it, and three million not be born. It means the Arab Spring will disintegrate into its component feuding gangsterdoms, and tens of thousands more die in Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Palestine.
It means Iraq was the biggest botch since the helicopters climbed slowly out of Saigon, with unwelcome houseboys dangling from rope ladders before being ditched in the sea.
America’s residual empire ended, it might be argued, in Saddam’s hanging and we will not see (alas) its like again.
It would therefore be good if the Senate investigated how we got into Iraq, much as it investigated the avoidable fate of HMAS Voyager. Both were shameful accidents, with details worth learning. It is likely Howard colluded in an illegal war, and in the hundreds of war crimes his cronies thereafter concealed in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere, and it would be good, while the principal criminals are still alive, to find out in detail how we were sucked in, or jumped in joyfully perhaps, into this murderous calamity that forever altered the shape of the world.
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