The US Must Apologise To the Iraqi People
After the invasion of Iraq, the US electorate sent a clear and unequivocal message to the world. By voting for President Obama who opposed the war, the American people signalled their rejection of President George W. Bush’s foreign and domestic policies, and his destruction of Iraq.
Today, Iraq’s sovereignty has been destroyed. Its wealth of cultural heritage has been looted or vandalised. Iraq’s natural resources have been squandered, and its once-elaborate and sophisticated infrastructure has been laid to waste. Safety, security, and the rule of law are virtually non-existent. Terrorism is on the increase. The whole Middle East has either been destabilised or is, as a result of the chaos in Iraq, at high risk of instability, or even meltdown. Southern Iraq is largely under the control of the Tehran Government. And yet the Bush administration somehow failed to anticipate this outcome.
Wild dogs feasted on dead Iraqi remains while the US occupiers were busy protecting the oil wells. Holy places were desecrated. Hundreds of people were assassinated, kidnapped or simply disappeared every day. According to Iraq Body Count, hundreds of thousands have been killed as a result of the war, many of them are innocent civilians.
The dismantling of the Iraqi state was at the heart of the US invasion. The war was never intended to be one of liberation. There was never an exit strategy. Instead, the focus was on diverting attention from the real strategic aims of the war, and its human and financial costs. The real aims are to control Iraq’s vast oil and gas resources estimated at 1/3 of the World’s reserves. Also, to eliminate Iraq’s potential military and political threat to Israel’s unlimited ambition for regional control and domination.
The problem isn’t just the catastrophic failure of the war, or the suffering it has caused: it’s the Bush Administration’s unforgivable dishonesty towards the American, British and Iraqi public. American and British citizens were inveigled into this disaster. The true aims of the war were never shared with the American or Iraqi people by its architect, for fear of being rejected.
President Obama’s message to the American public was one of change. The fundamental change needed is honesty, transparency and accountability with respect to the war against Iraq. Iraqis also want honest explanations for the destruction of their country.
In March 2005, the Sunday Times revealed that the then-head of M16, Sir Richard Dearlove, told Tony Blair and his leading advisers following a visit to Washington in 2002 that the “facts and intelligence” were being “fixed round the policy” by the Bush administration.
Real not politicised justice must be seen to be done, to right the wrongs committed by the Bush’s government against the Iraqi people.
In November 2011 and May 2012 the Kuala Lumpar Crimes Tribunal allowed the courts after reviewing an impressive body of legal documentary evidence and victim testimonies to pronounce that culpability exists at the highest levels of Governments in the United State and the United Kingdom for War crimes and the crimes of torture. This cant possibly come as a surprise for George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
An unequivocal US apology must be given to the Iraqi people, for the pain and suffering inflicted upon them. There must also be an offer of compensation, in accordance with international law, for the collateral damage to both people and infrastructure. The war was illegal.
A US apology will not bring back the thousands of dead Iraqis, or ease the suffering of those who have lost their love ones, it cannot heal the injured, or shelter the displaced. But at least a US apology will amount to an acceptance of moral responsibility, and an admission that it has deceived the Iraqi people.
The hope is that a tragedy of this kind will never take place again, that the public will never again be deceived in this way, or international law so flagrantly violated.
Unless and until someone is held accountable, those who committed atrocities against Iraqi civilians will continue to walk the streets of London and Washington, safe in the knowledge they have literally got away with murder. Not only of Iraqi civilians but also of the members of the British and American Armed forces who were morally betrayed by their trusted executives. Dr Burhan Al-Chalabi – FRSA is a former Chairman of the British Iraqi Foundation, fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and publisher of The London Magazine.