Iraq: what next? [Archives:2003/635/Opinion]

May 12 2003

By Paul Kokoski
Ontario, Canada
[email protected]

Prior to the U.S. war in Iraq few people harbored any illusions about the behavior and intentions of the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein. Nonetheless, President Bush's rushed initiative tragically undermines the theory of a just war and will lead to a proliferation of war and other acts of aggression.
Already this prediction is beginning to unfold. Buoyed by their apparent success in Iraq the U.S. is now issuing subtle threats against Syria, Iran and other so-called rogue regimes like Sudan and Libya.
While the Iraqi people have been freed from the oppression of Saddam Hussein they continue to suffer, now at the hands of U.S. expropriation. It is, for example, no secret how America's formidable military machine was able to quickly seize control of all the Iraqi oil wells and the Ministry of Oil Building in Baghdad but were unable to protect – despite being forewarned – the irreplaceable heritage of a proud Iraqi people housed in the Iraq National Museum. It is now known that American troops were among those allowed to ransack museums, burn archives, and pillage libraries.
It is likely that the U.S. will be in Iraq for many years – even decades. History shows that the development of democracy is a gradual, evolutionary process. In fact, since the fall of the Ottoman empire and after the period of colonialism – when the Arab states were created – there has been a continuous and difficult search for the proper balance between politics and religion in Arab countries. A nation's people cannot just change its attitudes and mentality overnight.
Adding to the growing consensus of U.S. dominance in the region is the reluctance on the part of the U.S. to allow the United Nations to take the lead in rebuilding Iraq. To counteract such suspicions the U.S. will likely establish a legitimate government in the weeks ahead that will attempt to conceal in the world's eyes the reality of an American military presence. The Arab nations however are bracing themselves. Due to growing anti-American sentiment extremist groups are said to be regaining strength.
Lost in the shuffle – a thorn in the side of the U.S. as an altruistic liberator – is the fact that throughout the world in over 30 countries, millions of lives are being lost through armed conflict. Since 1998 there have been over 3 million lives lost as a result of fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone.
Evidence continues to mount, then, in the war's aftermath, that America's primary objective in Iraq was to gain control of the oil as well as the Middle East region.
Do other nations really want the U.S. to be the world's lone enforcer? Is this not a time to revisit the concept of a Just War?