Costly mistakes of powerful nations

The bad thing about US is it makes mistakes and the world pays dearly for it and the good thing is someone down the line, even former key personnel who served in the government or even a serving President admits their mistakes but cannot do anything to go back on those mistakes or even say sorry for their sins. On April 10, 2016 the current US President Barack Obama said the biggest mistake of his presidency was the lack of planning for the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster in Libya that left the country spiralling into chaos and coming under threat from violent extremists.

Reflecting on his legacy in a US Fox News interview Obama said his “worst mistake” was “probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.” However invasion of Libya was one of the worst of many mistakes US made in last one hundred years when it comes to invading another country, including Vietnam. Americans are not known to be very much interested in understanding global history or geography which leads them to make mistakes that affects a larger segment of the world population.

US President Barack Obama. File Photo AFP-Lehtikuva.

They are good in military hardware, aerial bombing and even in ground invasion but, since the Second World War, could not produce a military strategist better than General Eisenhower. Former US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel said on last April 25th in Abu Dhabi that the 2003 Iraq invasion was a mistake. Hagel pointed out that Saddam Hussein, who was executed after a sham trial on the Muslim Holy festival of Eid-ul Azha in 2006 “was no great threat to the US”.

Saddam never was. Hagel was responding to a question posed by Khaleej Times about the possible US interests that led to the 2003 war. “I have said publicly many times since the invasion of Iraq that I thought it was a mistake, because we did not need to do it,” he said. When US invaded Iraq the UN already had control of Iraqi oil and its distribution, US just wanted the control to be passed on, which it now has but at the cost of peace in the region and dismantling a country. Saddam and Libya’s Gaddafi both were dictators in their country and most of their people liked it that way.

Both countries were cobbled together by the predecessors of Gaddafi and Saddam into a nation state. Now, thanks to the US-led invasion in these two countries, both the countries will never be the same again. Americans even do not have faint idea how a tribally divided region can be forged into a state. America eliminated its tribes about hundred and fifty years back. Iraq has already been divided into three segments. Hagel noted that the “mistake” opened a can of worms for Iraq and the region, as number of nations including Syria and Libya faced destabilisation due to sectarian violence, civil wars, falling of economies and the an expansion of terrorist organisations.

This January 20, 2005 file photo shows then US President George W. Bush (R) speaking with his father, former US president George H.W. Bush (L), inside the presidential viewing stand overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue during the Inaugural Parade in Washington, DC. Former US president George H. W. Bush has been admitted to a Texas hospital suffering shortness of breath, a family spokesman said December 23, 2014. Photo AFP-Lehtikuva.

There are allegation by many former US military generals and analysts that it was the United States that created IS to destabilise Syria, unseat Bashar Al Assad and have a man of their own in his place as they did in Afghanistan and in post Second World War Iran when the CIA funded a coup to overthrow the elected government of Dr. Mosaddegh to be replaced by Shah of Iran. In a story published by the Independent of UK on March 19, 2015 President Obama was quoted as saying “ISIS is unintended consequence of George W Bush invasion in Iraq.” A smart strategist will always have to think of consequences of his actions. By many analysts Bush is considered a person with a below average intelligence. Mr. Obama said, “two things: one is, ISIS is a direct outgrowth of al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion. Which (This) is an example of unintended consequences.

Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.” Explaining why so many young people are drawn toward terrorism and militancy Obama said “when a young man who is growing up has no education and no prospects for the future, is looking around, and the one way that he can get validation, power, respect is if he’s a fighter. And this looks like the toughest gang around, so let me affiliate with them. And now you’re giving me a religious rationale for doing this.” The irony is with Saddam and Gaddafi in power these countries did not have any militancy problem. Currently Syrian women have the same rights as men to study, health and education. The so called Wahabi brand of Sharia Law is unconstitutional in Syria and it is the only Arab country with a secular constitution and does not tolerate Islamic extremist movements. Once US manages to overthrow Assad, leave the country to the mercy of the thugs of IS, Al-Qaeda and other extremists then the entire region will be covertly be the backyard of US and overtly will be used to showcase to the world that Islam is the other name of extremism.

Back in January of 2014 Hilary Clinton, once the Secretary of State of Barack Obama, in two televised interviews given to CNN and Fox-TV in clear terms confessed “We created the terrorists, we funded them.” She continued, “We had this brilliant idea that we were going to come to Pakistan and create a force of ‘Mujahideen’ and equip them with stinger missiles and everything else to go after Soviets inside Afghanistan and we were successful. We left the stinger missiles with the people who were trained to use them. These people are fighting today, we funded 20 years ago.” No confession could be more honest. In 1985 President Ronald Regan met the Taliban leaders in White House and said “these gentlemen are moral equivalents of America’s Founding Fathers.”

When US invaded Iraq, Tony Blair was America’s inseparable ally. Many liked to call Tony Blair Bush Jr’s ‘poodle.’ Both ‘discovered’ with the help of US and the then Secretary of State Collin Powel that Saddam Hussein was hiding some weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in his backyard barn. So both decided to invade Iraq, without even waiting for UN mandate, get hold of the WMD and export democracy to Iraq. The invasion was launched code named ‘Operation Shock and Awe’ and as the world held its breath but no WMD was found. Saddam was captured, and executed. Initially the trial run for export of democracy was launched on top of Abram Tanks and then the modern fighter bombers came in. Still democracy is trying to find its way into the region but the loot of Iraqi oil revenues continue in some form or the other by the Anglo-American companies. The country has been fragmented, not to be reunited in any foreseeable future. Democracy can wait, killing and plundering can continue.

Tony Blair the British Prime Minister was defiant before, during and after the Iraq invasion. He informed the British Parliament and the voters that Britain was performing a historic duty for the interest of the people of Iraq. However, in October of 2015, he told in an interview to Fareed Zakaria of CNN, “I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received (from Colin Powell) was wrong. I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime. We have stood back and we, in the west, bear responsibility for this -Europe most of all. We’ve done nothing.

That’s a judgment of history I’m prepared to have.” The former Prime Minister indicated that he saw merit in the argument that the Iraq war was to blame for the rise of Islamic State (ISIS). He added’ “Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015 (also in 2016). Speaking to Simon Walters, Glen Owen, Martin Beckford and Daniel Bates in New York for the Daily Mail in October of 2015 Tony Blair finally said sorry for the Iraq War and admitted he could be partly to blame for the rise of Islamic State. The extraordinary confession by the former Prime Minister comes after 12 years during which he refused to apologise for the conflict. The interview was televised by CNN.

Blair even went further saying the invasion of Iraq was a ‘war crime’ while strangely denying he committed one. A week before the interview was televised The Mail published a bombshell White House memo revealing for the first time how Blair and Bush agreed a ‘deal in blood’ a year before the invasion. A 2002 briefing note from US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the President Bush showed Blair had secretly pledged to back the conflict while telling MPs and British voters that he was seeking a diplomatic solution.

What strategic mistakes US and its allies, especially the UK, committed in the past, the world in paying dearly for these at present – be it the rise of the IS or the killing of bloggers or activists or innocent teachers in Bangladesh. The same people whose mistakes have made the world so dangerous a place to live now come to tell how they can help in making the world a better place to live in. It is up to the world to decide whether what the trouble makers say should be believed or should the nations in peril look for their own solution.

Notes: The writer is the Chairman of University Grants Commission of Bangladesh and a former Vice-chancellor, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Source: Japan Time