It is now widely acknowledged that the invasion of Iraq by the American and British forces was based on a deliberate and wilful distortion of facts. It was asserted by both Bush and Blair that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This was stoutly and repeatedly denied by the United Nations inspectors assigned to scour Iraq to see if any such weapons existed.

Both leaders used their weight and influence to persuade the UN Security Council to extend its approval for a war to be thrust on an independent and sovereign country, but they failed to do so. It was pathetic to find an honourable functionary like Colin Powell indulging in lies at the Security Council, while making a case for an attack on Iraq.

Undeterred by the failure to secure the United Nations blessing, the American and British Chief Executives went ahead with their (evil) plans to bomb Iraq. This happened 10 years ago - I mean the invasion. The American military might was on full display. The most lethal state-of-the-art aerial and ground war machines unleashed devastating bombs, marauding missiles and every other available killing instrument to destroy the people and their properties. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fell victim to this unprovoked onslaught. Many more fled the country. The infrastructure was damaged beyond repair.

At first, it was dished out that the nuclear bombs were to be taken care of. Later, it was trotted out that the war had been clamped on the country to rid Iraqis of an undesirable dictator with a view to bringing the blessings of democracy to an “oppressed” people. Yet, another reason given was to inflict a fatal blow on terrorism.

Jessica Stern, a fellow at the FBX Centre in Harvard University, in a recent article in the International Herald Tribune, hit the nail on the head when she wrote: “President George W. Bush said in 2003, (the attack) was the ‘central front’ in the war on terrorism. He was wrong but prescient. Iraq has (since) become a front for militant extremism - a front that the US created…....Following the invasion of Iraq, terrorism within the country’s borders began to rise precipitously. There were 78 terrorist attacks against civilians in Iraq in the first 12 months; in the second 12, the number nearly quadrupled to 203. In the year of the invasion, 19 vehicle-borne bomb attacks were reported. The number rose to 54 in 2004, 82 in 2005, 101 in 2006 and 204 in 2007.” (Till today such horrendous violence has not come to a stop.)

This is how Jessica concludes her article: “We Americans left behind after seven bloody years not only a shattered nation, but also an international school for terrorists whose alumni are spreading throughout the region. The staggering costs (in trillions) of our wilful blunders include the strengthening of terrorism that our leaders cited, in dragging us to an unnecessary war that left us morally and financially bankrupt.”

Even Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Pentagon Chief and one of the architects of the policy on Iraq has admitted in an interview with the London Sunday Times that the Bush Administration “plunged Iraq into a cycle of violence that spiralled out of control.”

David R. Ingnatius, a well known New York Times columnist, rightly wrote in his latest contribution that invading Iraq to topple Saddam Husain a decade ago was “one of the biggest strategic errors in modern America history.......all our might could not turn on electricity in Baghdad or frighten Sunnis and Shiites to cooperate with each other.”

The New York Times editorial of March 21 aptly says: “They promised a fine and peaceful Iraq”.......(what they have done) has made the country fragile with grave tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds that could yet erupt into a civil war or tear the state apart.” It sums up by saying that the Iraq war was unnecessary, costly and damaging on every level. It was based on “faulty intelligence manipulated for ideological reasons.”

Both Bush and Blair remain unrepentant. They, probably, are gratified that they have almost destroyed an important Muslim country, which could have posed a threat to Israel. And that American companies got a profitable access to Iraqi oil.

It needs to be noted that there have been calls both in USA and UK to haul up these two leaders in a court of law for the crimes committed by them. Al-Jazeera has highlighted a Citizens’ Campaign in UK to arrest Tony Blair. The organisers of the  campaign have laid down a guide for the citizens, in this behalf: The method we recommend is calmly to approach Mr Blair and in a gentle fashion to lay a hand on his shoulder or elbow in such a way that he cannot have any cause to complain of being hurt or trapped by you, and announce loudly: "Mr Blair, this is a citizens' arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge." If any police officers are accompanying Mr Blair, you should explain the charge to them, and encourage them to support you by arresting him. You are advised not to put yourself at risk of charges of assault or false imprisonment. In other words, do not cling onto Blair or attempt to drag him anywhere.

According to a recent opinion poll in UK, 53 percent said that the invasion was wrong, while half of them were of the view that he (Blair) deliberately misled the people and 23 percent believe that he should be tried as a war criminal.

Both Bush and Blair appear to have followed in the footsteps of Hulagu Khan.

Pakistan too has been at the receiving end. The continuing illegal and immoral drone attacks reflect the ruthless exercise of naked power by the imperial Pax Americana. It does not care if these strikes kill hundreds of innocent men, women and children. They call it a mere collateral damage. And there is hardly any regard for a country’s sovereignty. Calls by our Parliament to stop these horrible aerial strikes fall on deaf ears with little concern that a country’s integrity is being violated with impunity. Nor is there any inclination to understand that these attacks by unmanned aircraft spawn suicide bombers whose frequent revenge operations have almost destabilised the country. 

    The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political

    and international relations analyst.

    Email: pacade@brain.net.pk