Long before Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were attacked by the US Empire and its allies, these countries had something very important in common: They all had secular progressive nationalist sovereign governments with long established ties with the former Soviet Union, which is one of the reasons why the US has long planned to destroy them and turn them into client states.
They had an all inclusive society that respected and protected religious and ethnic minorities and women’s rights. Their economies were necessarily state controlled in order to protect against predatory western corporations that have destroyed and still are destroying national economies around the world in the name of the so-called free trade and open market policies.
After nearly four decades of war, death and destruction, it is now difficult to imagine Afghanistan before its tragic recent history. Up until the Soviet invasion of 1979 the country was indeed a secular country with a nationalist government and long proud history, where people lived their normal lives in peace. Contrary to current perception, women then had access to university education and pursued varied professional careers like their counterparts in any other twentieth century modern country.
Thanks to the overwhelmingly biased mainstream media there are many other myths about Afghanistan long held in the West, however, it is worth reading Jonathan Steele’s article in The Guardian in which he tries to dispel some of them.
Well before the Soviet invasion the Afghan Mujaheddin were supplied with arms by the US and funded by the Saudis in order to topple the pro-Moscow government in Kabul. Furthermore, the US had an even bigger plan to drag the Soviet Union into a quagmire in Afghanistan where “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War”, according to Brzezinski the national security adviser to President Carter. His aim was to break up the Soviet Union at any cost and the Mujaheddin were merely tools used to that end. He called them “Some stirred-up Moslems” who have over the years morphed into today’s terrorists, with more support and aggression from the Empire of chaos.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-1991, the US found itself the only superpower in an uncertain and rapidly-changing world. Instead of showing leadership on tackling poverty, health, education and climate change, the US, driven by its entrenched Neo-cons and Neo-liberals, chose to embark on a campaign of unprecedented aggression starting with the Middle East, where the world’s largest gas and oil reserves lie. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the US refused outright to accept the Taliban’s offer to hand over Bin Laden on condition the US did not invade Afghanistan.
The mainstream media did not even mention this crucial fact because the propaganda machine in the West was spinning out of control after 9/11/2001.The hawks in Washington were intent on invading Afghanistan under the false pretext of capturing Bin Laden and destroying Al-Qaeda, the very jihadist group they set up years earlier.
Iraq was another example of US Empire projecting its military power. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the American administration did not spare any effort in encouraging and supporting Saddam Hussein to engage in a catastrophic conflict with Iran. The result was an 8 year long bloody war which killed an estimated one million people and crippled the economies of both countries.
This left the Iraqi government no option but to ask the Saudi, Kuwaitis and other Gulf states to help Iraq by raising the price of oil, which they refused under American pressure. Intriguingly, American connivance tricked Saddam Hussein into thinking that he could invade Kuwait and put further pressure on the Saudis and others to see matters from his point of view. But this was a grave miscalculation by Saddam Hussein and a well planned American trap for him and one that resulted in yet another catastrophe for Iraq.
The usual propaganda spun its lies about the Iraqi Army’s barbaric atrocities in Kuwait and the valiant resistance there, all of which mobilised public opinion in the so-called civilised world. Consequently, much of the Iraqi Army was pulverised in what was called “Desert Storm” and most of Iraq’s infrastructure was systematically attacked from the air and destroyed. A no-fly zone was declared through the United Nations; nominally over the north of the country but effectively over the whole of Iraq.
Contrary to what was reported in the media at the time, this gave licence to the US and its allies to bomb targets anywhere in Iraq on a daily basis which went on for 12 years. Sanctions had been imposed immediately after Iraq invaded Kuwait and also lasted for 12 years until 2003. The government could not even import essential items such as food and medicine, “As many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council” according to The New York Times in 1995.
As if this humanitarian tragedy of enormous proportions was not enough to satisfy the neo-con hawks who pulled the levers of power behind Bush junior they used the events of September 2001 in America to whip up such frenzy around the world so as to silence any dissenting voice, not that the mainstream media showed any signs of being critical or even tried to question what the US administration was doing- interesting in a country that claims to be the land of democracy and freedom of speech. The Bush administration even concocted “evidence” from various questionable sources showing falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (“WMD”), this despite the fact that the UN weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix were reporting that there were no WMD, having been dealt with and disposed of many years before. Among such sources were an Iraqi exile’s PhD thesis and the infamous dossier that led Blair to tell parliament in September 2002 that Saddam Hussein had “chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes”.
Fourteen years later the Chilcot Report found that the “Supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction identified in an intelligence dossier resembled an inaccurate portrayal of such weapons in a fictional Hollywood movie”.
All the protest around the world by millions of people could not prevent the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. The fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the attack of September 2001 on America, had no connection whatsoever with Al-Qaeda and more importantly posed no threat to any western countries, all of this did not make any difference to the US administration already intent on invading Iraq. Apart from the oil, there were arguably other reasons why the Americans were so determined to invade Iraq:
- Iraq was already a weak state without significant allies and therefore with no hope of defending itself against the military might of the US who counted on minimal casualties.
- America had long wanted to banish once and for all the nightmare of Vietnam that had been weighing heavily on the American psyche for a long time.
- The military industrial complex had huge stockpiles of arms that needed to be tested and used in a “fireworks” show to project its might as the only superpower in the world.
- To make huge fortunes for the arms manufacturers and other big corporations.
- To intimidate and bully other countries and demonstrate literally what it could do to them if they do not fall in line with US imperialist policies.
- To satisfy Israel’s unquenchable thirst for security by destroying a major Arab country.
- To confirm itself as the only superpower in the world.
The well planned and executed US invasion of Iraq saw the complete destruction of a sovereign state: Its army, civil service, ministries, power stations, hospitals, schools, bridges, museums, archives and much more of the Iraqi state’s administrative, social and civil structure. Some have always argued that the vacuum and chaos that ensued represents the failure of the invasion as the planners had no plans for the aftermath. Seen from a different perspective, it could well be argued that the lack of plans for the post-invasion period was, in an undeclared way, deliberate and as such the invasion was indeed a big success. Its real objective was to plunge Iraq and the entire region into endless sectarian wars for years or even decades, leading ultimately to Balkanising the Middle East.
Until 1991, Iraq was a modern secular country with an excellent free health care system and a first class free education system up to university level. Art, science and music flourished and were enjoyed by all citizens irrespective of their religious or ethnic affiliation.
Libya too had free health care and education systems with an economy considered to be the best in Africa to the extent that it provided employment for thousands of Africans from across the whole continent. After the Western invasion of Libya those workers who survived the killing spree by the NATO-backed death squads had no option but to head for Europe as migrants. Gaddafi was always portrayed by the West as the “madman of Libya”, though in fact he was helping to develop African countries and their economies in many ways, hardly the work of a madman. Moreover, Gaddafi had huge quantities of gold and silver with a plan to”establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar” which would threaten western currencies and lead many African countries to more economic and political independence, according to recently disclosed emails.
This clearly was the real reason behind NATO’s military campaign in Libya, which was not reported at all in the West. Instead the public were fed with the usual fabricated images of civilians about to be massacred by Gaddafi‘s forces and that NATO had to intervene to prevent a humanitarian disaster, using the UN Security Council resolution as a fig-leaf. Consequently Libya’s weapons were looted by extremists and soon went to various African countries, a destabilising factor and a major contributor to the on-going migrant crisis in Europe. Following the collapse of the Libyan state, the US oversaw the transfer of significant quantities of Libya’s weapons to the jihadists in Syria. According to Seymour Hersh, “The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition.”
For years Syria has been refusing to become a client state of the US Empire. Since independence from the French colonisers in April 1946, the Syrian people have built a modern secular inclusive society with free education and health care for all citizens. The Syrian economy needed to be controlled by the government in order to protect it from hostile western multinationals. Unsurprisingly, such an independent stance always angered the US who never ceased to plot and scheme to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs over the past seven decades.
What is happening in Syria these days is not a civil or sectarian war but a war of aggression by the US and its regional proxies to dismantle the state and tear apart the very fabric of Syrian society and culture.
In its July 5th-11th 2014 issue, The Economist bemoans the failure of the so-called “Arab spring” completely ignoring western meddling behind it, through their supply of funding and weapons as well as their hired agitators and saboteurs who operated among innocent protesters. The vast majority of the Syrian people did not participate in such protest and were appalled by the armed violence and the atrocities committed at the start of the conflict by the mercenaries sent by the Wahhabi machine. The Economist also questions the failure of Arab countries to create democracy and prosperity for their people. Again there is no mention of the constant and relentless aggression from western powers throughout the past one hundred years or more. Even after independence colonial powers never stopped interfering in the whole region covertly or otherwise, not to mention the illegal creation of Israel in Palestine at the heart of the Arab world. Imagine if these countries were left alone to develop and build their economies free of bullying or threat of regime change, the world would be in a better state than it is now.
After a quarter of a century of America’s campaign of continuous destruction and military adventurism in the Middle East, US aggression has now hit a hard obstinate rock in Syria. It is the rock of resistance that has its roots deep in Syrian history. It is the unshakeable rock on which all foreign invaders were defeated; the people of Syria refuse to be subjugated. Syria and its allies have shown the world their legendary resistance over the last 6 years and the Syrian people will eventually emerge united and triumphant from this neo-colonial-manufactured crisis.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.