One, and perhaps the only, message that the illegal American invasion and occupation of Iraq has sent to the people across the globe is that you must be strong or must have a genuine deterrence in order to survive in this maddening world. This is specially true if you happen to be richly endowed with natural resources or your geographical location is one of strategic importance. Being weak or deprived of deterring weapons is an open invitation to invasion and subsequent disaster. The bleeding Iraq is an eye-opening example.

Iraq invaded Iran in 1980 with covert and overt Arab-American support. With a view to defeating Iran, the US violated its own laws and supplied duel-use technologies and military equipments to Iraq including the helicopters that were used to spray poison gas on the people of Halabja. Mr. Saddam Hussain remained a US darling as long as he waged war against their enemy, Iran. His suicidal mistake, however, was the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The subsequent events are a well known story. A US-led war against Iraq destroyed its formidable army and compelled Mr. Hussain to accept ceasefire on humiliating terms.

Having been defeated thoroughly in 1991 was not the only humiliation that Mr. Saddam was to suffer. The punitive sanctions imposed against Iraq, in fact, were to prove more deadly than the American-led war against it. Baghdad was required to abide by the UN demand to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. Now it appears that Mr. Hussain had indeed complied with the UN demand in 1991 as is evident from and proved by the report that the chief US Inspector, Charles Duelfer presented on Wednesday, the 6th October before a Senate Committee detailing how Iraq had dismantled all its chemical and biological weapons.

All through the 1990s and well upto the American invasion a prying UN Inspection Team worked in Iraq to find out WMDs. Its job was to report and testify to the Security Council about Baghdad’s compliance which it never did blaming all the time that Mr. Saddam was not cooperating. Meanwhile the punitive sanctions suffocated to death thousands and thousands of Iraqi people including children, women, the sick, the old and the destitute. Will we still blame Mr. Saddam for non-cooperation, specially after Duelfer’s report or should the world body, the UN hang its head in shame?

Perhaps the UN would not have failed in its duty had it been able to resist American pressure and work freely. It might have also saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who died due to shortage of medicine and surgical equipments. But the biggest UN failure was to stop Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March 2003. And its moment of infamy came when it sanctified the Anglo-American occupation and entrusted the occupation forces with maintaining law and order in Iraq. And we watch on television every day how the Americans are doing the job that the UN has assigned to them. Attacked here and there by the insurgents, the Americans go on a bombing spree and kill innocent civilians including women and children.

The last few days have witnessed unusual happenings in world affairs. First, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan termed the US war against Iraq as illegal. Next Tony Blair, the British premier was humbled and forced to apologize at the annual conference of his Labour Party for having lied about Iraq’s WMDs. Then many high ranking US officials accepted that Iraq had neither WMDs nor had any link with Al-Qaeda. These were the two prime reasons behind America’s invasion of Iraq which, along with others such as bringing democracy and prosperity to Iraq, have crumbled one after another.

The UN-approved American occupation of Iraq has far-reaching legal, international, economic, strategic and even academic implications. Unfortunately the world is not paying due attention to America’s illegal war on Iraq. Now is the time, however, to fix responsibilities, or at least to ask some disturbing questions. What job the UN is supposed to perform, to sanctify an illegal war and invasion or to protect the sovereignties of its member nations? Should a country be invaded to give it democracy remote-controlled by foreign nations? What the people of a country should do if their country’s illegal occupation is sanctified by the UN? Should they resist UN-approved occupation or remain silent? What will be the legal status of their resistance? Who should be held responsible, the UN or the US forces for the killing of innocent civilians? Who should be accountable for the ruined future of Iraqi children who are unable to attend schools since the American occupation of their country? No one seems to be disturbed at all these and find answers to these questions, as all is right with Iraq and the world.

But there are nations, Iran and North Korea for example, that seem to have learnt their lessons. They know that they cannot match the American firepower. Therefore, how to survive or live honourably is the big question before them? Nuclear deterrence is the only option that they can adopt. And no one but only the US is to be blamed for this because from the elimination of the Red Indians to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and from the Vietnam war to the invasion of Iraq, they have sent only one message to the world: they are incapable of behaving within the framework of international law. They know and understand only one language: the language of strength. And a deterring weapon is perhaps the language of strength that countries like Iran and North Korea are trying to master.

The rest of the world, specially the third world nations, meanwhile, are buying oil at over US$ 50 per barrel and are ruining or hurting their fragile economies. The punishment of the weak, the poet-philosopher Iqbal once remarked, is sudden death. Deterrence, therefore, is the weak’s only way of survival in this American-dominated world.g

DR ISHTIYAQUE DANISH is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Islamic Studies and Social Sciences

at Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi.


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