April Issue 2003

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 18 years ago

Ten thousand missiles and bombs (including 2086 kg bunker-busters) and several thousand civilian casualties (among them innocent children and women) later, the US establishment, with all the firepower at its command, is vociferously expressing indignation that the Iraqis are not playing by the rules of the game.

Blatantly side-stepping the United Nations, and ignoring the million-man marches and world public opinion, the Americans have invaded a sovereign country and bombed marketplaces and mosques (“spectacular bombing” is how one embedded reporter described it), leaving hundreds dead and maimed. They have used deadly depleted uranium, with devastating consequences, and proceeded to take the high moral ground that the Iraqis — with their “ancient” (by American standards) artillery — are being “deceitful” and “cowardly.” And that’s not all. While the Americans operate out of assorted countries, from Italy to Turkey and Qatar to Saudi Arabia, replenishing their battalions with men and bombs by the hour, they are threatening countries who are offering arms and men to Iraq and thus “endangering the lives of the coalition forces.”

The Americans even cried foul when the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera showed clips of US soldiers captured by the Iraqis and termed it a violation of the Geneva Conventions. And then, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, proceeded to blow up the Iraqi TV network in Baghdad. They had done that to the Al-Jazeera TV station during the Afghan war.

It is ironic that a country that has treated Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners of war worse than animals, branded them “unlawful combatants”, herded them off to Guantanamo Bay, kept them in fetters in tiny cubicles, refused to allow them any visitors or recourse to the law and been party to the massacres of POWs by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, should be talking of Geneva Conventions.

Or any conventions for that matter. The US has violated every rule in the book — and the world is witness to its arrogant imperialism. It has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol to protect its gigantic industrial establishment, it refuses to ratify the anti-landmine treaty to protect its own soldiers involved in insurrections in different parts of the world, it refuses to have anything to do with the newly set-up International Criminal Court to protect the likes of Rumsfeld and Cheney from being hauled up in court for war crimes in Iraq and maybe elsewhere in the future.

It now threatens to set up a parallel UN body comprising members who will speak with one voice-the American establishment’s voice. After vetoing hundreds of UN resolutions censuring Israel for the violence against Palestinians, the US lambasts and lampoons France and Germany for threatening to do the same. The US obviously has one set of standards for itself, and another for the rest of the world. While many western democracies have condemned the US, most Muslim regimes have proved to be among their staunchest allies.

Meanwhile,the war rages on. A war that was waged against Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction (Have the Bush boys, with the most hi-tech equipment at their command, managed to find the WMDs Blix failed to unearth?), to bring succour to the Iraqis (after starving them for the last 12 years through the imposition of UN-sanctions), to introduce democracy (after continuing to support monarchs and despots in exchange for bases and oil) and to install a representative regime (read ‘representative of US interests’ in the region).

The war is not over — not yet. But the contracts are already out for reconstruction — to be paid for with Iraqi oil.First destruct, then reconstruct, is the name of the game. And no prizes for guessing who the recipients of the loot are- friends and former colleagues of Messrs Bush senior and junior, Rumsfeld and Cheney.

The global impact of the war will take years to assess, but Pakistan is already beginning to feel the pinch. The mullahs are on the warpath — and President Musharraf is walking a precarious tightrope.

Meanwhile India, taking a page out of Bush’s doctrine of preemptive strikes, is making threatening noises once again.

Welcome to the New World Disorder.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.