My piece on the IRAQ War in April 2003


At the risk of being accused of gloating, I honestly do think that the piece I wrote on Gulf War II, as the dismembering and unapologetic occupation of Iraq came to be known as, belongs to the echelon of pieces I am happy about perpetually.

It was published in the Asia Times and the link is still active & available to this day. Here it is:

In case it is taken off their server in the near future, here is the unabridged & unedited piece, below.

An inglorious chapter of history

April 2003
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.

This is not a tale about angels and demons or knights and dervishes. The first category of each pair is increasingly a rapidly vanishing and nearly extinct breed. Politicians who have increasingly become Machiavellian and have repeatedly sacrificed truth and objectivity at the altar of expediency, greed and all-obliterating self-serving credos now increasingly rule the roost, surprisingly covering considerable parts of the developed and enlightened world.

Given the volleys from highly honed and all-enveloping propaganda machines, and apparatchiks with misplaced crusading zeal, let me hasten to add that this is not a piece with a "label" on it. In any case, the rush to label everything contrary to a particular worldview is itself a manifestation of the manic narrow-mindedness afflicting those who are the standard bearers of the madness that, currently, appears to have enveloped the world we all live in.

The overwhelming odds faced by the innocents and the midgets in the battle of the gross unequals are sad and almost sickening. The best and the most destructive that technology and money can devise in the air, on land and at sea is being unleashed against a near-defenseless population. Armies classically are implementers of orders passed down by civilians and politicians (the ancient monarchs, caliphs and caesars have given way to present-day presidents and prime ministers) and hence logically there is no such thing as a "good" army or a "bad" army. However, in this case the invading armies, with their walls of lethal steel, long-range precision-guided munitions, depleted-uranium shells, cluster bombs and itching trigger-fingers have decided to take on a rag-tag band of men who, enervated and emaciated for more than a decade by crippling sanctions, depleted financial coffers and ossified and pitiful military equipment are still valiantly doing their duty as best as they can. That they didn’t turn tail and run or were not "shocked and awed" by the pyrotechnics on display and the "morale-sapping" filibuster pervading the air waves is testimony to their love of their country (not necessarily the present regime) and their distaste of invaders with grandiose visions.

The relentless barrage of untruths, euphemistically termed psy-ops, the choking off of views and channels inimical to the orchestrated sound bites being put out by the United States (in order to be truthful, I have deliberately decided to shun the terms "coalition" and "alliance") are overwhelming enough. Add to that President George W Bush and his partner-in-isolation Prime Minister Tony Blair time and again subverting objectivity and truth (as has been proved by repeated and embarrassing disclosures both in the United States and the United Kingdom), and you have those who chose to cling to vestiges of rationality bewildered and saddened at the depths the mighty and the powerful have stooped to.

The metronomic shifts between "regime change", "elimination of weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) and "ultimatums leading to no other options but to attack", without a shred of conclusive proof for any of the all-enveloping accusations, have indeed been bewildering to the uninitiated. No less bewildering has been the exhortations of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to one particular religious community to turn on and decimate the members of a different religious community. With this coming from a country that champions democracy, secularism and human rights, the world over is somewhat discordant. Observe the flippancy with which field operatives talk of four-figure casualties, "complete destructions" and collateral damages ("unfortunately the lady got in the way") and you begin to get nightmares of dark crusaders war-gaming "liberation" in this century.

What a pity, what an utter waste, to lay waste the lives of so many able-bodied men and women on both sides of this orchestrated chasm that has been cunningly devised and crafted by powerful men for their own selfish little ends. If wasting the lives of non-combatants, innocent men women and children by the thousands under the guise and the propagated myth of "liberation" is not a criminal act, what is?

Saddam Hussein may well be a despot and dictator. There are at least a score and more of other despots and leaders with extremely dubious track records who regularly cozy up to the leader of the "free world" and are feted and showered with largesse at embarrassingly regular and frequent intervals. Not surprisingly many of them have signed on for the current Gulf Games.

Observe how daily sound bites are put out about "suspicious" discoveries to provide a plausible cover of reason for this blood sport. Predictably, this discovery of great importance is consigned to the wastebasket of insignificant and unworthy news the next day. Sadly, even after such exciting "discoveries" at regular intervals, the hosts of the Gulf Games are finding it hard to sustain viewer interest after a fortnight and more of this terribly one-sided contest.

You don’t need to be a crystal-ball gazer to predict that this relentless juggernaut will eventually prevail, sooner rather than later. Any feelings of angst at the plight of the helpless populace will be carefully papered over, "collateral damage" running into many thousands will be shrugged off as inevitable and "proof" of WMD will be carefully manufactured and beamed to the whole world.

Nothing, but nothing, will obliterate the cowardice and chicanery of the men who are responsible for having perpetrated this act. A mad elephant trampling a desert rat has never quite been and I hope never will be an automatic inclusion in the more glorious chapters of world history.

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