Mourning Baghdad, pushing peace

US military officer says the US has failed to heed history and lost the war.

    Anniversaries are a time for reflection.

    As I reflect on the last five years, I pray for all victims of violence, especially the children.

    I think about Baghdad. Baghdad was the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Now, it is polluted with radioactive depleted uranium that will be lethal to humans for billions of years, which means suffering and death will continue long after the fighting has ended.
    While many historical parallels can be drawn between the war and the Mongol invasion in the 13th century or British imperialism in the 20th century, the horror inflicted on the Iraqi people by my country is far worse.

    Killing for oil

    The "green light" given to Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in 1979 and invade Kuwait in 1990, given by former US presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush, respectively, provide essential context with regard to today's Iraqi body count.

    In addition, Bush senior killed over a million Iraqis with the economic sanctions initiated in 1990, the 1991 war and the betrayal of promises to support Shia and Kurdish uprisings. Like his father, Bush junior, current US president, has also entered the history books as a mass murderer with the blood of over one million Iraqis on his hands.

    Together, they are the only father and son in history to have each killed directly or indirectly over one million Iraqis.

    Historical context

    Iraqi museums, libraries and national archives
    were looted after the fall of Baghdad [GETTY]
    It is important to understand the past five years of occupation in a historical context because the student of history knows that the US lost the Iraq war the day it started. The only question that remains is whether the war will end before or after it bankrupts the collective soul of my country.
    If my fellow Americans better understood the British 1914-1918 Mesopotamia campaign, they would not be fooled by the claim that the surge is working. Britain invaded the area we now call Iraq because in 1912 it started building warships that needed oil.

    Soon after the British invasion, local resistance resulted in the creation of the League of the Islamic Awakening, the Muslim National League and the Guardians of Independence. Members of these anti-colonial secret societies, now called insurgents by the US government, have fought for independence long before the 2003 invasion.
    History repeats in uncanny ways. One theme is the loss of national treasure; the Mongols destruction of Baghdad's House of Wisdom in 1258 was not dissimilar to the looting of Iraq's National Museum in 2003.

    Another parallel is the defiance of the 1920 British Mandate by the grand mujahid of Karbala, Imam Shirazi, who called for war. Then, just as now, Sunnis and Shias fought to defeat a foreign occupying power that sought to exploit oil.

    Unfortunately for the Iraqi people, the occupation continued by the British, although interrupted at times, until 1961 when the British Colonial Office separated a province of Iraq (what is now Kuwait) in order to exploit the oil under its sands.

    Holding Bush accountable

    In May 2003, Bush declared that the mission in
    Iraq had been accomplished [AP]
    I have spent the last five years working to end the Iraq war. I am not alone in this endeavour. As the result of the efforts of many peacemakers, the vast majority of Americans now see the war as harmful to everyone, whether in Iraq or here in the US.

    Bush has depended on lies and secrecy to survive. As a result, his approval rating dropped to 19 percent in February, the lowest of any president.

    Though he has repeatedly violated his oath to uphold the constitution, congress has also failed by not beginning the impeachment process. Hearings in the Judicial Committee, the first step in that process, would make Bush's crimes apparent to everyone.

    The failure of lawmakers in congress to act is especially disappointing because there is overwhelming evidence of deception. For example, the Center for Public Integrity published a report in January that found Bush and seven of his top officials made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001.

    Big blunder

    On this fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, I see the US invasion on March 19, 2003 as the beginning of the mass murder of a proud people.

    Bush, by invading Iraq, committed what may be the greatest US foreign policy blunder in history. As dreadful as this reality is, I believe the voices of the majority of Americans will ultimately be heard and the power of truth will prevail.

    There are many organisations trying to get the facts out to the people. For instance, the Teach Peace Foundation delivers peace education to students and makes available over 100 free online documentaries. To learn how you can get involved so that we can end the war in 2009 instead of 2029, please visit Our motto is "the facts, calmly".

    David Dionisi, a former US military intelligence officer and Fortune 500 executive, has written extensively on the failures in Iraq and campaigns against a war with Iran. Author of American Hiroshima, he also works for the Teach Peace Foundation.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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