By Paul V. Rafferty
Sometimes, Fiction can give us greater insight into Current Affairs than a collection of Facts.
Anyone who has read Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” or seen Francis Ford Coppola’s excellent film adaptations should find it easy enough to understand the Iraq Invasion by the United States and its allies.
“The Godfather” tells the tale of one man’s rise to power in the world of organised crime and the subsequent passing of the mantle to his son. Don Corleone, the principle character, struggled to reach a position of power – and learned from his experiences when to use violence and also when to refrain from violence. His son, Michael, was given the hard won ”empire” and ruthlessly “settled old scores”, immediately upon his accession to “the throne”, eventually presiding over the demise of all his father had built.
A morality tale? Perhaps. A window into the U.S.? Probably.
In 1978, a popular uprising brought down the Shah of Iran, a strong ally of the United States. The Shah had overemphasised military spending, installed a formidable “secret police”, the Savak, to keep down dissent and neglected the wishes of many Iranian people.
Ayatollah Khomeini, a prominent dissident, living in exile, in France, returned to Iran, in February 1979, took control of the situation and installed the Islamic Republic of Iran.
On November 4, 1979, militant Iranians seized the U.S. Embassy and held its staff hostage for over a year.
During the Carter Administration of the U.S., a rescue attempt failed and during the early days of the Reagan/Bush Administration, the hostages were released.
In September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, with the support of the United States. Saddam Hussein was the leader of a powerful secular state and an Islamic Republic on his border was considered anathema to both Iraq and the U.S. The war lasted eight years and bled both Iraq and Iran terribly.
Nevertheless, in August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and the Gulf War lasted until the end February 1991. Saddam Hussein said that Kuwait was using horizontal drilling to capture Iraqi oil but the invasion of Kuwait was an act of aggression, forbidden by International Law.
The United States led a United Nations endorsed military force to restore Kuwaiti sovereignty and Iraq was made to pay all the costs of the war, plus damages. A special U.N. Agency, the U.N. Compensation Claims Commission (UNCCC) was established to oversee payments. Sanctions were imposed and the Oil for Peace Programme was established to manage Iraq’s oil revenues.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and the U.K. – without U.N. authorisation – set up a “No Fly Zone” In Iraq and enforced this with periodic bombings of Iraq.
The sanctions and the bombing continued through 2003, weakening Iraq immeasurably.
Saddam Hussein, however, remained in power, because – according to the then U.S. President George Bush, father of the current U.S. president – to remove Saddam Hussein would be to bring chaos to Iraq and the region. However brutal Saddam Hussein’s regime was, he brought stability and prosperity to Iraq.
In 2000, George W. Bush assumed the mantle of his father and became the President of the United States, after a highly questionable election, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Most of the Members of the Supreme Court had been appointed during the Reagan/Bush and former Bush presidencies.
The United Nations had sent a team of inspectors to Iraq, to determine if Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction” WMDs. They found none.
Saddam Hussein ran a totally secular government, where anyone could practice whatever Religion they wanted – or none – similar to the United States, in that respect. The main problem was that if anyone in Iraq disagreed with Saddam or the Baath Party, they were in SERIOUS TROUBLE and subject to torture and other forms of persecution. Disagreement was not allowed.
In 2001, the United States was victim of a terrible terrorist attack, attributed to Usama bin Laden. This caused the invasion of Afghanistan, where Usama bin Laden was based. Usama bin Laden was a CIA- trained fanatic claiming to be a Muslim who had helped bring about the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Bush Regime linked bin Laden with Saddam Hussein – although Saddam Hussein was extremely opposed to Islamic Fundamentalism.
Nevertheless, the charges of possessing WMDs and being linked to Islamic extremism were presented and the U.S., U.K. and their allies invaded Iraq, overthrew Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party and brought in a new government.
During the lead up to the invasion. OPCW Director-General Jose Bustani was in negtiations with Saddam Hussein to get Iraq to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. (The OPCW is the Organization for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons.) If Iraq signed, there would be a ten year period – renewable – for Iraq to get rid of any chemical weapons it still possessed. (Iraq had been supplied with chemical weapons by the U.S., during the Iraq-Iran war.)
As the negotiations were nearing completion, Bustani was ousted by the U.S.
We are now observing the Fifth Anniversary of the Bush-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Saddam Hussein has been executed; the Baath Party has been outlawed. More than one million Iraqis have died since the invasion, along with approximately 4,000 U.S. troops and other allied soldiers. “Depleted” uranium is causing severe illnesses and birth defects in Iraqis and allied forces. Sectarian violence permeates Iraq. Criminality is rife. The cost of the war is estimated at over $500 Billion. There is talk of a world-wide recession and there is even fear of a Depression.
President George Bush experienced combat, during the Second World War and left Saddam Hussein in power to avoid chaos. His son avoided military combat.
Now, George W. Bush is threatening Iran. Another “score to be settled”?
Perhaps, we should re-read “The Godfather” to make some sense of it all.
-Paul V. Rafferty is the editor of the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report (http://www.unobserver.com). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.