Only after most Iraqi cities were heavily bombed, Allied ground forces entered Iraq, encountering little resistance from the inferior and demoralised Iraqi army. And within six weeks it was all over, at least officially. Even though few people seem to remember the fact, but it is worth to point out that George W. Bush declared on May 1st, 2003 that the war was over and the Allied forces had been victorious. This declaration was spectacularly staged on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), one of the largest and most modern ships of the US Navy (pictured below).
But five years after the begin of the war US and British troops are still in Iraq, and still fighting. So is the war still going on? Then Bush lied to the world (and not for the first time) on May 1st, 2003.
However, in international law the situation looks a bit different. By declaring the war over, Bush - as head of state of the main belligerent country - made a legally binding statement, which binds not only him, but all US citizens, civilian and military, including all members of the armed forces of the United States.
After this official declaration, the USA (United States of Aggression) had no right to stay in Iraq as a fighting force. They could have stayed on as an occupational security force, but with limited powers, not much different to that of a police force. But this is not what happened. The USA did not only keep a large fighting force (currently 158,000 troops) in Iraq, including heavy battle tanks and helicopter gunships, as well as fighter and bomber aircraft, the US leadership orchestrated a second war - this time against the entire Iraqi population - after their war against Iraq's army and the ruling Baath Party was over and won.
This war is still going on, with no end in sight. And it is even more immoral and illegal than the first one, which started five years ago. Most people are not familiar with military and international law, and so they believe that the current war in Iraq is still the one that began exactly five years ago. But this is not the case. It could be, if George W. Bush had not - very prematurely, as it turned out - declared victory, "mission accomplished" and "combat operations over". Given the low intelligence of George W. Bush, he might not have been aware at the time what his declaration means in international law. However, in his position he has a large team of highly-trained and very well paid experts, advisers and lawyers, and they must surely have known better. Did they not dare telling him? Or were they all enthralled in the same false belief that by invading Iraq, destroying the army of Saddam Hussein and abolishing the Baath Party they would gain complete control of the whole country and its population?
If so, it only shows to the world how naive, inexperienced and incompetent the entire leadership of the sole remaining "super-power" really is.
Everyone knows by now that the Pentagon had absolutely no plans for the occupation, administration and post-war reconstruction of Iraq when they declared war. The then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saw no need for that, since he firmly believed that the US troops would be "welcomed with open arms by the Iraqi people" and "hailed as liberators".
Subsequently the hastily established Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) under L. Paul Bremer, a former diplomat and Bush cronie, who was totally unprepared, unqualified and unsuited for the job, ran a medieval terror regime while squandering billions of dollars without proper accounts or receipts.
During the twenty months it was in charge of Iraq, each month a huge crate, containing 1 billion dollars in cash (!), was flown from the USA to Baghdad for the day-to-day operations of the CPA. Most of this money has disappeared without trace, and it has been alleged that a large part of it went right back to the USA, into the private pockets of CPA officials and US contractors working for it.
Meanwhile there have been elections and there is an official Iraqi government, complete with a President and Prime Minister, a large cabinet and a complete administration. The problem is that rival parties who hate each other have been forced into an undesired coalition, and they use their limited power predominantly for their own purposes and benefits. The general population of Iraq has no confidence in this government, nor in the newly created Iraqi army and police force, well armed and trained by the USA, but nevertheless still completely useless.
This is not entirely accidental, because as long as the Iraqi politicians and their new armed forces are incapable of ruling and controlling the country, a massive US presence can be justified by the White House. No one in the Bush administration has the slightest interest to leave Iraq, since it is needed as the assembly ground and jumping-off base for a war against Iran, which has long been planned by the Pentagon and is still a possibility, as long as Bush is in charge.
Earlier today Bush made a bullish speech at the Pentagon, praising himself and the war in Iraq. Sometimes I really think he actually believes all the lies and nonsense he tells the world, but in reality he is just a remote-controlled puppet, executing the orders he receives from his father, Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney (who is the real ruler of the USA) and others who did buy the presidency for him in December 2000. And when he makes a speech, he is repeating words and doctrines his advisers prepare for him. Only when he has to answer ad-hoc questions the real George W. Bush comes to the forefront, a bumbling fool with no idea of politics or the world, a man who is not even in proper command of the English language and often mixes up his metaphores. Once a lazy daddy's boy and alcoholic, he is now a lazy but willing puppet for the unholy alliance of right-wing religious fundamentalists, oil barons and arms manufacturers who took control of the USA in a bloodless coup d'etat in December 2000 and put him into the White House.
Those who write Bush's speeches are professionals and masters in the art of manipulation and propaganda, and even the infamous Dr. Joseph Goebbels could learn from them. In today's war anniversary speech there was only good news and praise. No mention of the "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) Saddam Hussein never had, but whose apparent existence was used by Bush as the main excuse for the war. No mention of the length of the war, which is meanwhile going on for longer than the First World War. No word either about the astronomical costs for the American taxpayers, which have recently passed the 500 billion dollar line. (for the exact amount at any time have a look at the running cost counter in the information column on the right side of my weblog)
There was of course also no mention of the human costs. Close to 4,000 US soldiers have died in Iraq so far (only 139 of them in the first war against the Iraqi army, the rest in the war against the whole Iraqi nation), and more than 60,000 have been wounded, many of them seriously and to the point that they will never again be fit for active military service.
But these are small numbers, compared with the amount of Iraqis who have lost their lives. As the USA does not even bother counting Iraqi dead and the new government in Baghdad issues only doctored statistics that makes them look good, one has to rely on independent international sources. The lowest estimate - from Britain, which is still the USA's only real ally in Iraq - puts the number of Iraqi civilians killed since March 19th, 2003 at "about 151,000".
The International Red Cross (ICRC) is more realistic and lists 654,965 Iraqi civilians as casualties of the war. But another source, the international ORB survey which has monitored events in Iraq closely from day one of the war, reports a death toll almost twice as high, with 1,220,580 Iraqi civilians and more than 14,000 members of the new Iraqi security forces (army & police) killed since March 2003.
As excuses for the war Bush presented the most ridiculous list of "reasons", well phrased, but only fooling those who were brainwashed beforehand. He said: "1) Because we acted, Saddam Hussein no longer fills fields with the remains of innocent men, women and children. 2) Because we acted, Saddam's torture chambers and rape rooms and children's prisons have been closed for good. 3) Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer invading its neighbors or attacking them with chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. 4) Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer paying the families of suicide bombers in the Holy Land. 5) Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer shooting at American and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones and defying the will of the United Nations. 6) Because we acted, the world is better and United States of America is safer."
Well, let's just deal with these examples. Number 1 is true, because Saddam Hussein is dead, hanged by the Iraqi puppet government after being sentenced to death in an US-controlled Iraqi kangaroo court. Now it is US troops who fill Iraqi fields with the remains of innocent men, women and children. Number 2 is true as well, since torture chambers in Iraq are now operated by the CIA and the US Military Police. Number 3 - true also. Bush only forgot to mention that it was the USA who provided Saddam Hussein with those weapons when he was still their friend and ally. Number 4 is of course correct as well, since Saddam is dead and his regime gone. So now families of Palestinian suicide bombers receive their payments from Saudi Arabia, which is America's closest ally in the region. Not surprisingly, number 5 is true also, as no-fly zones no longer exist in Iraq since 2003. Instead the US Airforce is now regularly bombing civilian targets with the excuse that they are "suspected terrorist hideouts", without ever providing any evidence for the claims. And number 6 - well, Mr. Bush, there you have slipped badly. Only someone with absolutely no brain, who is also blind and deaf could believe this outrageous and truly idiotic statement.
If you want to read Bush's whole speech, you can find it through this link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/03/20080319-2.html
Thanks to Bush and his criminal administration the world is in complete economic turmoil, with the Middle East and some other areas also in political chaos. In Iraq the world's one remaining "super-power" has not been able to restore normal supply of drinking water and electricity after five years, not to mention the many other shortfalls that make life in Iraq hell for the Iraqis. No surprise that 4 million Iraqi people (which is 1/7 of the population) fled their homes and are now living as refugees, about half of them in other parts of the country, and the other half fled to foreign countries, the majority to Syria and Jordan.
And America safer? Well, perhaps for Mr. Bush and his cronies, who are constantly surrounded by dozens of body guards from the Secret Service, travel only in armoured limousines and special aeroplanes, and have the whole US security apparatus protecting them. Ordinary Americans pay for all this with their tax dollars, but in return they get ever worsening conditions in every area of their lives, from security and policing to personal freedom and the economy. Not to mention all the other problems people in the USA are only too familiar with...
This is a very sad day for the whole world, and Bush's triumphalist speech makes it even more so. In 2002 and early 2003 I attended numerous anti-war demonstrations, where thousands of Irish people made their voices and views heard, long before the illegal occupation of Iraq started. The build-up to the war was only too clear and visible for us, with many thousands of US troops and their supplies being transported to the Middle East stopping over at Shannon Airport. But no one listened to us and to the millions of people who held similar demonstrations in other countries. While always using the words freedom and democracy very liberally, neither Bush nor his willing vassals Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern paid any heed to the people. While Bush and Blair had their set agenda and just wanted this war, regardless of the costs and public opinion, our Taoiseach simply did not have the spine and moral fibre to say "no" to the use of Irish airspace and Shannon Airport. But in committing war crimes the small helpers are as guilty and responsible as the big leaders and the executers in the field.
There will come a time when the people as well as their leaders will see the Iraq war for what it is: the greatest combination of ordinary crimes, war crimes and carnage in modern times. And when the historians write their books about it, George W. Bush will find his place in eternal infamy, close to Stalin and Hitler. Sadly many more people - Iraqis and Americans alike - will be paying for his crimes and war crimes with their lives before someone will find the courage to end this war, which the US administration calls meanwhile "The Long War".
The Emerald Islander
(sad and sick, but still writing)
P.S. They say that history repeats itself for those who have not bothered learning enough of it. I found this quotation and reading it makes one think deeply and shiver...