Written by Behrouz Saba
An American military withdrawal from Iraq, sooner and more decisive than previously anticipated, is being hailed as an end to the war. Yet the conflict, in which 4,483 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis lost their lives, was no more than a battle of a far larger war which started decades ago and is likely to go on decades more with catastrophic consequences of a global proportion.
The war in fact started in 1979, when a virulently anti-American revolution ended the monarchy in Iran and Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan. The United States and its European allies were understandably alarmed, seeing a geopolitically indispensable region of the world slip out of their sphere of influence.
America and Britain adopted the policy of giving millions to Muslim extremists through the CIA’s Operation Cyclone, creating a counter-measure to an expanded Russian presence in the region. Saudi Arabia funneled in millions more. The “honest broker” in these transactions was Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), which fashioned the Afghan Mujahedeen as a precursor to the Taliban, Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda and the Somali-based al Shabaab.
The Soviets fought futilely for an entire decade until they limped back north across their border with Afghanistan, their empire soon to collapse. The 1980s also saw the prolonged Iran-Iraq war in which the United States and Britain played both sides against each other, selling arms to Tehran and Baghdad, and sharing intelligence with Saddam Hussein.
The war left Iran a pariah nation mired in internal conflicts. Yet Hussein was still perceived as posing a serious regional threat and impeding America’s access to Iraqi oil. President Ronald Reagan appointed April Glaspie as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 1988. She famously told Hussein, “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker [then-Secretary of State James Baker] has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”
Iraq took these words as a green light to invade Kuwait in 1990, which became the premise for the first Gulf war to expel Iraqi forces from the oil-rich emirate. The war was followed by years of crippling sanctions against Iraq which targeted civilians. At least half a million Iraqi children died, mainly due to lack of medical and pharmaceutical supplies.
A new century started with 9/11, which is a part of the same war, as it targeted and killed 3,000 American civilians. Today the fingerprints of the British intelligence service MI6 as well as the ISI are glaringly obvious in planning and executing the atrocity.
The horrific events ushered in an era of pro-war emotions, curtailment of civil liberties and anti-Muslim sentiments across the United States and Europe. The United States immediately invaded Afghanistan, effectively taking the Soviets’ place where it remains still. Two years later, American troops invaded Iraq, eventually hunted down Hussein, put him on trial, and hanged him in plain view of TV cameras for the world to see.
The so-called “Arab Spring” is also a part of the same war. It destabilizes existing regimes throughout the Arab world with America’s blessing, yet with little thought and planning given to the fate of the nation states in absence of the status quo. The process — under the guise of promoting “democracy”– revives national, ethnic and sectarian conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), weakening central governments and making MENA ripe for a wide range of neocolonial exploitations.
According to one study by the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, the greater “war on terror” has cost 225,000 lives and up to $4 trillion in U.S. spending.
Today, a provision of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act threatens American citizens with summary arrest and indefinite detention. The stipulation makes it clear that Americans themselves are considered a target in an open-ended war with civilian casualties exponentially higher than military losses.
The wholesale carnage and expenditure of taxpayer dollar is in preparation for the final stage of the war, when America will see itself arrayed against China and, possibly Russia, in a fight for global ascendance.
Evan Wright wrote in Generation Kill about Americans who served in Iraq: “These young men represent what is more or less America’s first generation of disposable children. More than half of the guys in the platoon come from broken homes and were raised by absentee, single, working parents. Many are on more intimate terms with video games, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own parents.”
Today, millions more of them, widely distributed in selfsame suburbs and inner-city slums of the world, are ready for action. That they will consent to fight not for a cause but as entertainment will make their war all the more deadly.
This post was originally published by New America Media.
Photo from New America Media