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Raffique Shah


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Blood and sand - one year later

April 11, 2004
By Raffique Shah

ONE year in today's global village that we call the world, what with communications being almost instant, seems almost like a nanosecond. In fact the latter term is itself a by-product of modern communications technology that illustrates the speed at which we can access information. Today, those who own and control the finest in modern technology-from "smart bombs" to "video conferencing"-have also grown to fear the very wizardry they have helped create.

George Bush is one such victim of his own devices. One year ago, in the face of worldwide protests and dire warnings dished out by who could see its implications, the US president sent his forces to reduce what was left of Iraq to rubble. He convinced himself, or maybe he was persuaded by the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz, that "taking out" Saddam Hussein and taking over Iraq was a breeze. In and out in a year. Rid yourself of a dictator you helped create, win popular support among Saddam's millions of victims (perceived or real), most of all win control of the world's second biggest oil deposits, and ride out of town in glory.

Now that he is bogged down in the desert with little hope of extricating himself from a Vietnam-in-the-sand, he must wonder what "blight" has hit him. For all the bravado that he won't run from Iraq, or his generals' seemingly contradictory statements that they are "finally winning the war", things don't look so rosy for Bush. In fact, they look rather thorny. Maybe he's not bright enough to understand that this is one war he will not win. Worse, his "war against terror" has backfired so badly, the entire world is now in more danger than it was before his misadventure.

But if the war is hurting America and its coalition partners badly, information technology is hurting him worse. His chances of gaining a second term in office in the November elections are quickly evaporating as the lies he and his aides peddled to the American people and to the world are being exposed. What must hurt him even more as he reflects on his sins that are catching up with him is that the man who is likely to beat him is the rather dull John Kerry. Now, unless he can present Americans with Bin Laden's head on a platter for Thanksgiving, his re-election goose seems to have been already cooked in the burning sands of Iraq's desert.

I started this column by postulating that modern technology has advanced to the level where it returns to haunt those who created it or who rely on it. Bush went to war on the false premise that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). To date the Americans have not even been able to plant any such weapon, so busy are they trying to protect their backsides from crude roadside bombs and suicide bombers. That lie having been exposed, he transformed his mission into one of liberators. Maybe he is not a student of history. If he were, he'd have recalled the words Britain's General Stanley Maude, who, as John Pilger recalled recently, when he entered Baghdad back in 1921, said: "Our armies do not come as conquerors, but as liberators." In a few years the British army "liberated" more than 10,000 Iraqis-from their lives! Killed when they dared to oppose the army of occupation.

Within one year of the invasion of Iraq, so much misinformation has been laid bare for public scrutiny, Bush and his partner-in-crime, Tony Blair, must be cursing the man who invented the tape recorder or bugging devices. For example, in an article in the May issue of Vanity Fair, Christopher Meyer, former UK ambassador to Washington, says even as Bush and Blair discussed a response to 9/11 in Afghanistan, Bush remained obsessed with Iraq. He was present at the meeting when Bush told Blair (who was focused on the Taliban and al-Qaeda): "I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq."

So whatever happened in Afghanistan where mud huts were bombed into-well, dust, Bush was bent on going into Iraq. But why? Was it mere revenge, finishing off a fight his old man had started? Was it just the oil? Again, technology comes to the rescue. IPS reporter Emad Mekay uncovered a rather interesting remark made by Philip Zelikow, who is now executive director of the 9/11 commission. At the University of Virginia on September 10, 2002, the then head of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, told his audience: "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat is and actually has been since 1990-it's the threat against Israel."

Now, that's not far-fetched, more so coming from the mouth of someone who served at the highest level of national security under Bush. If you look at it, pre-1990, Iraq was the only Arab country that had the capacity to take on Israel militarily. So snuff out Iraq and forget about the eunuchs in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, the UAE and even Iran. All fired by the lure of the almighty "greenback", pretending to pray five times a day to Allah, but not even sparing a thought for the Palestinians who have been reduced to refugees in their own country.

Richard Clarke, Bush's one-time counter-terrorism expert also said Bush was so obsessed with removing Saddam he ignored intelligence reports on possible al-Qaeda attacks on US soil. Now, along comes Rice (maybe she's being served up on a platter without knowing it!) to just about confirm what Clarke and Zelikow said. Finally testifying before the commission, Rice tells of a number of warnings of attacks on the US before 9/11. But she tries to signal that intelligence was inadequate for the government to act. Still, her colleague Powell tried to convince the UN Security Council that two "big trucks" picked up on satellite photos in Iraq were really labs for the manufacturing of chemical weapons! And the man is not even ashamed to admit that in so doing, he sent 600-plus (and still counting) American boys to their deaths, that in its 10-year war against Iraq, America has killed more than one million Iraqis, mainly children.

Yes, one year was a long time many moons ago. Today, it's like a flash. In that short time, Bush has slipped from hero to zero (well, almost), Rice is proving to be tasteless, Powell admitted making an ass of himself and the UN. Pity the poor buggers.