Iraq: Ten Years of Stupidity

EDITORIAL, ANGLO AMERICA, MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA, MILITARISM, 25 March 2013

Johan Galtung, 25 Mar 2013 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Nobody celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 19-20 March 2003 coalition invasion of Iraq (not only the USA was responsible, the stupidity coalesced).  Stephen Zunes summarizes the losses in one of his excellent articles in the Santa Cruz Sentinel[i]: “the death of up to half a million Iraqis, the vast majority of whom are civilians, leaving over 600.000 orphans.  More than 1.3 million Iraqis have been internally displaced and nearly twice that many have fled into exile. Almost 4,500 Americans were killed and thousands more have received serious physical and emotional injuries that will plague them the rest of their lives. The war has cost US taxpayers close to $1.3 trillion”.

On top of killing 1.3 million in the UN-imposed sanctions.

To use expressions like “humanitarian intervention” or “human security” given such predictable insults to basic human needs and rights beats Orwell’s 1984 Newspeak.  With nothing to justify this, the coalition should bow in confession, contrition and compensation; 3C.

Iraq did not become a democracy as a result, some constitution and multiparty elections notwithstanding.  An artificial country put together by the UK out of the beaten Ottoman Empire, multi-national with shia Arabs in the south, sunni Arabs in the middle and sunni Kurds cannot be treated as a unitary state.  Nation is super-salient; to refer to the sacred as “sectarian” is a clear insult.  Democracy inside each nation makes good sense, and the Kurds are benefiting from that, having been set apart. (Con) federation first, then democracy.

The Iraqi majority is shia, meaning that the one person-one vote formula favors the shia for the whole country; thereby also favoring Iran and other shia parts of the Middle East.

But did they get rid of Saddam Hussein?  Yes; in a caricature of the rule of law, killing him before he could tell his side of the complex story.  He is already becoming a myth, close to a martyr.

In 1927 the prolific French philosopher and author Julien Benda (1867-1956) published a book that soon became very famous: La Trahison des Clercs.  The English title was doubly unfortunate: The Betrayal of the Intellectuals.  First, “by” would have been better than “of” even if “of” actually makes sense but in another way than Benda’s. Second, an intellectual is a person always questioning his own assumptions, and that is the key issue here.  A better term would have been “intelligentsia”, maybe trained as intellectuals but not to question anything, only to give answers, and more particularly answers in line with authority inclinations. Another word would have been “experts”; still another, more like Benda’s clercs: “bureaucrats”.  They have all traded in their autonomy for money, status, power; and may also be available for short time hire on a per diem basis

Benda takes to task French and German intelligentsia of the 19th century for their extreme nationalism, racism and belligerence, leading to the wars of 1870-71 and 1914-18, and to the first and second Versailles treaties. We could add, to the Second World War when they actually came together to some extent under the Vichy regime for a French-German cooperation still lasting, under EC-EU auspices.

Benda had two alternatives to a nationalism backed by state power. One was the classical culture of the Antiquity, border-transcending, unifying; and the other was the Christianity of the Middle Ages, also border-transcending. Benda’s world was Europe, what they both meant relative to “barbarians” and “pagans” was not his concern.

Betrayal, treason, are strong words, particularly when directed against those who see themselves as the truly loyal and faithful, and certain others pleading trans-national/state values and policies as the betrayers and traitors.  These “clercs” have one great advantage: they have the state they serve on their side, and more so the more loyal they are, and can mobilize state power against “cosmopolitans”.

The really responsible, the security, regional studies, etc. experts providing premises for this orgiastic violence, hide behind presidents and prime ministers. Bush-Blair depended on support from their advisors but what they got was not intelligent, but stupid.

To assume that one can invade a country without encountering hard resistance is stupid.  Even if polls showed more Iraqis favoring the USA than Saddam it is unforgivable to forget the third category: those who favored neither.  To refer to resistance as “insurgency” assumes that the invader has some kind of legitimacy, making any resistance illegitimate. But the second UN resolution glared by its absence.

To assume that a dictator can be deposed and democracy introduced is equally stupid. The dictator is there for some reason: the country is ungovernable. Being forged together by a colonial power–Libya- Palestine-Iraq-Lebanon-Syria–the faultlines survived decolonization. The colonial power ruled with a hard hand, and their thinking survived in the intelligentsia delivering the premises for war. One person-one vote democracy works in homogenous countries with I-culture, like in Nordic countries very different from Iraq–or in countries with so many faultlines that they somehow cancel each other (USA, Tanzania).

To assume only one scenario, war–maybe after sanctions–reveals intellectual poverty. Iraq had problems but not the casualties, exile and displacements of the war-which may last 10 more years having upset so many unstable equilibria. Nonviolence works against dictators. There are fora and conferences to discuss pros and cons of unitary state-devolution-federation-confederation-independence-regional communities. There are conflict resolution and trauma reconciliations.  And yet they cater to US-UK war addictions, sending others to hell.

Such people should be known for their tested inability to analyze and forecast and remedy. Academia should be for intellectuals, not for clercs, intelligentsia. And states should update their advisors.

NOTE:

[i]. See opinion@santacruzsentinel.com, posted march 2013.

__________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgment and link to the source, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, is included. Thank you.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 March 2013.

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12 Responses to “Iraq: Ten Years of Stupidity”

  1. Udaya R. Tennakoon says:

    o assume only one scenario, war–maybe after sanctions–reveals intellectual poverty. Iraq had problems but not the casualties, exile and displacements of the war-which may last 10 more years having upset so many unstable equilibria. Nonviolence works against dictators. There are fora and conferences to discuss pros and cons of unitary state-devolution-federation-confederation-independence-regional communities. There are conflict resolution and trauma reconciliations. And yet they cater to US-UK war addictions, sending others to hell.

    Such people should be known for their tested inability to analyze and forecast and remedy. Academia should be for intellectuals, not for clercs, intelligentsia. And states should update their advisors.

  2. Alberto Portugheis says:

    “Iraq did not become a democracy as a result”

    Dear Johan, I frankly cannot believe that you think the invasion of Iraq was to help the country become a democracy!!!!!

    “—-war reveals intellectual poverty” Dear Johan, the most intellectual, cultured, well educated people, advised by other equally educated intellectuals, are those who chose the war path. Non-intellectuals are the millions of soldiers who blindly go to kill (and to die).

    Exile and displacements were nor NO problem. On the cintrary, this was the boost the the Refugee Industry needed. At the moment, with Syria, those involved in the Refugee business, are celebrating on a daily basis.

    “….the war-which may last 10 more years having upset so many unstable equilibria.” You are here predicting 10 more years of bounty and happiness for the War Industry.

    “Nonviolence works against dictators”, you claim, but this is not so. You have no dictator in Switzerland, yet violence in many corners of the world, is what keeps the Swiss alive and rich.

    This is why I don´t agree woth your statement on “US-UK war addictions”. The fact these two countries loose their own people in military interventions, the aforementioned Switzerland, France, Russia, China, Sweden, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, etc, also “send others to hell”.

    The ONLY alternative: the Universal Abolition of Militarism

  3. […] This article was first published by Transcend Media Service. […]

  4. opit says:

    10th anniversary of the 19-20 March 2003 coalition invasion of Iraq the stupidity coalesced

    That is not the stupidity of the leaders but rather the lameness of the pretexts. It is tough to sell invasion of a state by nuclear armed powers because the victim doesn’t have any – as per the NPT and IAEA certification. To then assert that the people openly advocating ‘overthrow of governments in an arc encompassing energy producing states’ as per the PNAC website or any analysis devoted to the Great Game and rewriting the political map of the Middle East are overly concerned about the health of their puppet governments ( like Saddam, who fought proxy war against Iran ) ignores not only the evidence of NATO Colour Revolutions in the Arab Spring and meddling of Al CIA-da in Libya and Syria but of the war gaming preceding the invasion i.e. Post Saddam Iraq : Desert Crossing.

    Do not excuse as stupidity that which is perfectly exp[lainable as cupidity. In the runup to ‘war’ it was blatantly advertised that the costs of the operation would be recouped from Iraq oil revenues. An excellent – if limited – video from the Panelist exposes part of the neglected scenario of the corporate rape of a country : The Real Winner in Iraq was Monsanto.

  5. kobejin says:

    it was stupidity and lameness of pretexts.
    johan chose to emphasis the first.

    an excellent article.

  6. opit says:

    kobejin
    Obviously stupidity has shortcomings at explaining repeated behaviour where corporations reap windfall profits. Do you think Halliburton chose to relocate from the US for reasons other than protecting against possible attempts to recoup losses to what was essentially theft? Or that American Service Members – and contractors – were immunized from Iraqi prosecution because there was no basis in which to charge them ? Avoiding prosecution is not evidence of lack of foresight. Neither were Bremer’s Orders http://www.uruknet.info/?p=42948

  7. Is this only Ten Years of Stupidity? Is this not Ten Years of Crime Against Humanity, Sovereignty of a Nation and Ancient Civilization of the world killing more than 1.3 million people and spending more than US $1.3 trillion for the same?

  8. […] Stephen Zunes riassume le perdite in un suo eccellente articolo sulla Santa Cruz Sentinel [i]: “… la morte di almeno mezzo milione di irakeni, la gran maggioranza dei quali civili, che […]

  9. Dr Bishnu Hari says “…killing more than 1.3 million people and spending more than US $1.3 trillion for the same?” without realizing that 1.3 million “have to die” in order for others to make “U$A 1.3 trillion”.

    If politicians did not intend killing people, why would they promote weapon manufacturing and trading? why would they give so much money to University Science Departments to help scientists develop faster and more powerful bombs, longer distance reaching missiles, more sophisticated drones, etc?

    Not opposing weapon manufacturing and trade and Armed Forces, is the same as promoting war.

    Alberto

  10. Dear Alberto
    I do not think that total disarmament and total demilitarization are possible in the international arena today. The best perhaps is the peaceful settlement of disputes guided by the rule of law for the balance of power mechanism in the 21st century. Unfortunately, this could not be applied in Iraq’s case. It converted to be a barbarism/tragedy of US+Allies/UN history.
    Dr. Bishnu Hari Nepal
    Chairman
    ‘Dr. Bishnu Hari Nepal Peace Foundation’

  11. Dear Bishnu,

    “peaceful settlement of disputes” is exactly what politicians do all the time !!!!!!!! this is WHY we have so many wars. They are all carefully and “peacefully” debated in Government offices (I am a witness of wars negotiated in the UN) in Restaurants, in private homes of politicians and Armed Forces chiefs. You write as if wars were accidents that just happen, unexpectedly.

    Please try to put yourself in the position of a man with a passion for flying air-fighters. You spend 4 years training, become a fantastic pilot, capable of hitting buildings and people with pinpoint accuracy at great speeds. Would you be a happy man if your Government made you spend your life at home watching TV?

    Please imagine you are the owner of a bomb factory. Will you be happy with a Government who doesn’t give you business? will you vote for a Government that you know will never engage in wars or encourage other countries to fight?

    How will you pay your employees if Governments decided not to have wars and you can’t sell your bombs?

    Do you know how many poets, musicians, actors, school teachers, nurses, bus drivers, chefs, shoe makers, etc, finance political parties? NONE. But, look at the list of donors: Bankers, petrol and gold barons, military manufacturers (arms, tanks, mortars, landmines, bombs, Apache helicopters, warships, nuclear submarines, etc) They are the ones who help politicians reach power, together with their associates, the Media/Press barons.

    Politicians are “forced” through very polite, civilized and sophisticated arrangements, to pay back the favour. If they neglect the tacit “code of practice” they don’t last in power, if they’re lucky not to be assassinated.

    Diplomats are well educated and cultured people, more often than not, Now people forget Diplomacy is the Art of concealing what you are really thinking or doing. Officially, Diplomacy is described as “allowing international relations through the intercession of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peace, trade, WAR, economics, culture, environment, and human rights. War is not made by soldiers or armed civilians. These are the victims of war. Wars are negotiated very carefully between very educated people. Warmonger Churchill was a painter. Hitler was a painter and a great music lover, who could sit for hours listening to a Wagner opera. He also loved, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven.

    International treaties – whether for war or for Peace – are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians.

    That’s how the GAME goes and it will NOT change whilst we allow military toys manufacturing and trading. IMPOSSIBLE!!!!

    Alberto

  12. […] Stephen Zunes riassume le perdite in un suo eccellente articolo sulla Santa Cruz Sentinel [i]: “… la morte di almeno mezzo milione di irakeni, la gran maggioranza dei quali civili, che […]