When will the truth be told?

March 20, 2004

A year on from what was the illegal invasion of a member country of the United Nations, the Americans appear to be in a sorry mess in Iraq. It looks every bit like the imbroglio into which they got themselves in Vietnam, only this time their own citizens are not that voluble in calling for the troops to leave.

What amazes one more than anything is the way the whole situation is portrayed. We are constantly reminded that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and that the Iraqis are well rid of him. True. But has anyone stopped to consider what kind of an Iraq Saddam Hussein built up during his 24 years at the helm?

Saddam's Iraq was a classic spy vs spy country. Every one was suspect, even your own brother. There were so many spy agencies, one competing against the other, each trying its best to please the dictator. In this kind of Orwellian situation, it was impossible for any tribe or sect to express animosity against another. Every one had to swallow their pride and live peacefully. Those who stepped out of line were shot.

A long time back, an exiled Iraqi wrote a book titled Republic of Fear. It is clear that not one of the Western pundits who appears on TV or radio to "educate" people and "analyse" the situation in Iraq has ever read it. Writing under the pseduonym Samir Al Khalil, the man drew the most detailed picture of Iraq that anyone has ever done. Not for nothing did he call it a republic of fear. Everyone lived in fear of their lives and took particular care not to offend Saddam or his henchmen.

When sections of the Iraqi populace began to revolt against Saddam's rule in the wake of the first Gulf war, in 1991, they did so after having been given the green light by the US, after having been promised assistance. But when things came to the point where it looked like the Shias would be successful in taking over, the US began to get cold feet. One primary consideration was - after living in such an artificially tight society, how would people react if they were given freedom? Would there not be a lot of settling of scores, or even something akin to a minor civil war? And how would Iran react when it looked like it had a chance to exert control over its arch enemy? The Americans pulled back for these reasons.

Bush Junior is apparently surrounded by people who possess more ideology than intelligence. Not surprising, given the IQ that the president has demonstrated. Else, these politicians live in a dream world. It is apparent that the analysts in the US do inhabit just such an environment given the predictions they made before the war and the rubbish which they continue to spout.

Where else would you find people expecting a nation to be happy when a government that was hand-picked by an occupying power is imposed on the occupied? Going by the TV pundits, the Iraqis are expected to be happy and embrace this brand of "democracy." Anything less than gratitude evokes surprise! Countless times it has been shown to the world at large that people would much rather live in a mess of their own making. This appears to have escaped the Americans - or perhaps they don't want to even give it a thought. After all, they are there for the oil.

The oil factor never finds a place in discussions in the West. After the oil shock of 1974, there was much talk of developing alternative sources of energy so that the West would never be held to ransom as it was then. But 30 years later, there is nothing but oil and the Americans, who consume nearly a quarter of the world's oil production every year, are quite clearly worried about how they can maintain their dominance.

A group of five "swing" producers - Iraq, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait - dominate world oil supply and own half the world's yet-to-be-produced volume of conventional oil. So the US needs to have sway over these five to ensure oil supplies. It also needs to keep ensuring that the dollar is the default currency for world trade - else a lot of cheques issued by the US would come back and would have to be honoured. Add to this the fact that Saddam had actually dared to sell oil for euros - and, despite the dire predictions, made a handy packet on the transaction as the euro rose against the dollar. Bingo, you have the prime reason why the US could wait no longer.

The West has its share of myths to explain the resistance in Iraq. It is either Al Qaeda, foreign fighters or Saddam loyalists. It is inconceivable to people in the West that ordinary Iraqis may feel aggrieved that their country has been invaded and are fighting back. If some Western country were invaded and its citizens did exactly the same thing - killed the invaders in suicide attacks - it would be hailed as an act of bravery. Since this is Iraq, however a different logic exists - the West is always right, so the Iraqis must sit back and accept whatever happens.

Every time a terrorist attack takes place and people logically assume that the occupation of a Muslim country must, no doubt, be fuelling anger in the ranks of those who carry out such attacks, the logic is shot down. No, say these apologists for US actions, it cannot be. The attacks cannot be tied to our rape of a country. It is because the "evil" terrorists are against our way of life. After all, the West knows no other "civilisation." The fact that Iraq is one of the most ancient civilisations around on our good Earth does not come to mind.

There is a day coming soon when the Americans will leave - pressure is growing on Bush and the American elections are in November. They will leave behind armour and men in tanks, the same way they have done in Saudi Arabia after Gulf War I. The pretext will be to guard the new "democratic" administration in Iraq. But before that happens and after, much blood will be spilt. America has sown the wind and this time it is more than likely to reap the whirlwind.