Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam and the deep depravity of Western foreign policy

The execution of Saddam Hussein today brings to a close a period in recent Middle Eastern history that requires the highest and most stringent form of downright condemnation.

It begins in the eighties. Iran had turned Islamic. And so the West decided to support Saddam, even though they knew that he was the ruthless dictator as he has been described today in numerous obituaries. They sold many weapons to him during this period including chemical weapons which he used against the Iranians first and then the Kurds later (if you check the press of 1988, there was hardly any coverage - the death of thousands becomes important according to political utility). Approximately 1 million people died in the Iran-Iraq war.

After the failure of his war against Iran, he looked to Kuwait and April Glaspie - the American ambassador at the time - arguably gave him the green light with the infamous 'we have no opinion on border disputes' line. He invaded Kuwait and the US led a liberation of Kuwait funded by the Saudis.

Then began the sanctions which have lead to the death of about half a million people which continued through the nineties. These sanctions were only lifted after the invasion of Iraq itself in 2003. This was the third time Baghdad was bombed by the US in twelve years.

Today Saddam is dead. But he was not the last dictator in the Middle East. Today's obituaries mention his crimes. There are many others whom the West continues to deal with who use torture, for example, of the most extreme and despicable sort.

The West failed the people of Iraq because it sought their wealth. They are owed something more than an apology. Arms were sold in order to keep disgusting industries alive. This again continues, and here we can see within the infrastructure of non-failed states how they work their systems: arms industries, foreign policies, governance and warfare. All of which has lead to the transfer of wealth and the destruction of a country, all in pursuit of a man who was made in their own image, only more crude and a few favours short of a friendship.

I was in sixth form during the first Gulf war and nobody cared. Jokes were made about the 'mother of all battles' and people continued with their lives, not realising that part of their success was dependent upon the murder of others. I was at university when the sanctions were in place and again no one cared. Many in my generation have grown up with the Western treatment of the Iraqi people as a major concern. More are aware today. Saddam has gone, but will this deep depravity that calls itself progress and civilisation continue?