Another little known reality of the war is its consequences on the Iraqi civilian population. The war is not an event in history, confined to school text-books alone. The aftermath of the Allied bombing of Iraqi landscape has brought about irreparable damages to the innocent civilian population. Neutral observers, including the United Nations agree that the use of heavy artillery has caused irreversible damage to Iraq’s people and a general decline of its environment. As a consequence incidences of ailments among Iraqi children have increased sharply. America and its allies though deny these charges; as a result the general public is insulated from these darker realities.
There are parallels between the Iraqi invasion and the invasion of Vietnam a few decades earlier. The circumstances and reasons for the Vietnam war were a little different to that of Iraq. The Vietnam war was initiated by the United States government’s Kennan containment policy (NSC 68), based on a trivial idea of cascading dominoes. Other rhetoric of the time condemned communism’s atheistic inclinations. The architects of the Vietnam episode regarded Ho Chi Minh as a subordinate of the Soviet Union and not as a brave nationalist fighting for his state’s independence.
It seems then, that Iraq was invaded for reasons other than those stated officially. These include, oil resources, settling scores with a dictator who tried to resist American domination and to gain strategic control of the Middle East region, among other things. The Project for the New American Century, a conservative think tank, supported for war against Iraq as early as 1998, and its advocates later became key members of the Bush administration. Their chief motive was not extending democracy and freedom but “anticipatory-self defence” founded upon the fictitious claim of Iraq’s strategic threat to the United States. At the pinnacle of this disinformation campaign Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations (on February 5, 2003) declaring confidently that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program. He even added, “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources.”
“Vietnam and Iraq were crusades of exaggerated virtue. In Vietnam, the U.S. declared that its war aims were containing communism and extending freedom to Southeast Asia, yet for much of the war African-Americans could not vote, practice miscegenation in many states, use “white only” drinking fountains or unfetter themselves from Jim Crow cars. America’s war against Islam is buttressed by Judeo-Christian ethnocentrism with its inevitable clash of civilizations. Muslims are construed as backward, non-democratic, anti-modern “Axis of Evil” that should emulate secular-western democracies and adopt Chicago-school free-market capitalism.”
The Iraq war is carried out with inadequate tactics and unwarranted use of force that can only lead to failure. Already more than 1,500 American soldiers and 100,000 Iraqi civilians have fallen victim to this war. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, America and its allies expected and prepared for a conventional war where their technologically superior military power would “shock and awe” the opponents into submission. But the reality however has proved to be much different. The coalition forces are mired in never-ending cycles of guerrilla warfare. If any lessons were learnt from the Vietnam fiasco, war should be a last resort and backed by significant domestic support. The Vietnam affair also exposed the need for international support. And before starting war operations there must be a clear exit strategy that is basically absent in the present quagmire. Such obstinacy not to learn from the country’s own past experiences depletes any credibility the Bush Administration might have enjoyed otherwise.