A War Crime of unparalleled magnitude
This year marks the 12th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the US-led forces, a despicable act of imperialist brigandage which has resulted in the devastation of a whole country and a proud people with a very ancient history and civilization. This invasion was born in lies and deceit fabricated by the US imperialists in collaboration with their allies and with institutions like the United Nations. The justification for the invasion was systematically prepared by spreading the completely false and now notorious propaganda that Iraq and the government of Saddam Hussein was harboring “weapons of mass destruction” and that it had aided the Al Qaeda in carrying out the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September, 2001. The invasion by the combined forces of the US, UK, Australia and other powers was accompanied by carpet bombing of Baghdad and other populated areas, and the wholesale slaughter of people and the destruction and loot of the country, including of its priceless cultural relics. Needless to say, no “weapons of mass destruction” or anything resembling it was ever found in Iraq after the invasion.
The invasion of Iraq brought to the fore the American imperialist strategy of imposing “regime change” in countries whose governments do not accommodate themselves sufficiently to US designs. The capture and execution of Saddam Hussein, which was spearheaded by the invading forces, was an act without any legitimacy under international law. The attempts to put a pliant regime in his place under the jackboots of the invading troops made a mockery of US claims to be the standard-bearers of “democracy” around the world. To ruthlessly put down the brave struggle of Iraqi patriots to get rid of the foreign invaders, which they could not do with troops alone, the imperialist occupiers cynically set alight the fires of sectarian conflict which pitted Iraqis against each other, and which greatly increased the loss of life and general suffering, and spread terror among the population.
The facts speak for themselves about the damage down to the Iraqi people through the imperialist invasion and occupation. It must be remembered that the invasion followed more than a decade of economic blockade and harsh sanctions against Iraq by the US and other imperialist powers, which had already led to great hardship and suffering for the Iraqi people. It has been estimated that since 1990, the number of Iraqi deaths resulting from direct violence or war-imposed deprivation has reached the huge figure of 4.6 million. Apart from this, 77,00,000 Iraqis are refugees, 1 million Iraqis are missing, 5 million children are orphans, and 3 million Iraqi women have been widowed. These facts, stunning as they are, do not convey the full extent of the suffering experienced by the people who have been traumatized by the violence and its consequences. Over the years, telling signs of long-term damage to the country have also been revealed. For instance, there has been a 40-fold increase in the incidence of cancer since 1990, attributable to the damage done to water and the environment, and a sharp increase in illiteracy (now 74%) in a country which once had a literate and well-educated population. The killing or flight of health professionals, whose services are so badly needed, has resulted in a drop in the number of doctors from 34,000 in 1990 to just 16,000.
All this taken together amounts to a war crime of unparalleled magnitude, which can be equated with the genocide of a population on the lines of the Nazi holocaust during World War II. However, the United States and its allies have not been charged with a single crime under international law or in institutions such as the International Court of Justice which are under the thumb of the imperialists.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq was part of a broad strategy of US imperialism to strengthen and extend its domination over a very wide arc of territory extending from North Africa, through West and Central Asia, through the systematic destabilization of existing states under the guise of its so-called “war against terror”. The aim has been to establish a stranglehold over a highly strategic region rich in oil and other resources and straddling vital transport routes. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, have all, one after another, been laid waste by the imperialist forces and their local hatchet men. Tremendous pressure is being applied to Iran which is seen as a major obstacle to US imperialist strategy in the region, and also on Pakistan, where there is mass resentment against US imperialism. This pernicious imperialist strategy is still unfolding and threatens all countries, big and small, far and near. The anarchy and violence unleashed by US imperialism has been brought very close to our own country, and there is no room for complacency. Our people need to be very vigilant against the designs of US imperialism. We must openly condemn its crimes against humanity and also actively support the peoples who are fighting to resist imperialist occupation and domination.