With the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and the welcoming of US troops into Iraq came scenes of liberation and freedom, which saw people burning effigies of the former tyrant, tearing down statues and defacing the giant portraits of Saddam on the city’s walls. They were scenes of jubilation, graphic in their depiction of a people’s freedom – something they hadn’t tasted properly, for a long time.
People have often sought to liberate themselves from tyrannical governments or leaders, on their own – the fall of the soviet union at the end of the 1980’s is one remarkable event that rallied millions of people together across Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungary and more, and forced massive regimes to crumble, almost overnight. So what is it that causes international intervention – whether it be the US, a US-led coalition, NATO or others – to result in such gratuitous amounts of thanks being shown to these foreign invaders for their presence?
Saddam’s rule in Iraq saw him strangle the nation at his own will. He controlled the masses with torture, assassinations, executions, murders, deportation and the destruction of people’s livelihoods through destroying their crops. The actual number of deaths that he was responsible throughout his almost 25 year rule, is still not entirely known. Some sources claim that Saddam was responsible for the death of 1 million Iraqis. Freedom from such great oppression is clearly thanked for, but it simply isn’t just a case of one nation’s compassion and empathy and one nation’s struggle and need.
Simple facts clearly show that intervention comes only when there are gains to be made. – And that’s putting it lightly. Ulterior motives would better describe some cases, especially those of US involvement in Iraq, for example. One need only consider Iraq’s massive oil reserves – estimated to be somewhere around 400 billion barrels (according to a former manager of the US’s Gulf Oil company) – to gain some idea of US motivation for Iraqi liberation. And then there is also the massive interest that weapons manufacturers General Electric and Westinghouse have in war as well (oh yes, they also do electrical appliances and own significant sections of the news media). – To put it simply, if America or its allies are at war, then the production lines of these two corporate giants will continue to feed their massive profits. Parts that helped to build the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were General Electric made. They also help with the manufacture of Israeli weapons and their aircraft too. Let’s not forget the oppression that some people believe Israel have themselves caused.
And what of the cost of the damage caused by carpet bombing campaigns, bullet holes, mortar shells, grenades? – Should there be compensation for this? And how about some compensation for all of the historical monuments accidentally destroyed, buildings decimated and the lives accidentally lost? The impression that they are doing nothing but “freeing” these people is certainly false. There are massive amounts of loss from aerial bombing campaigns, as well as prisoner deaths, roadside deaths, deaths from close fighting and accidental deaths, and then the embargos and sanctions that often result, or are sustained throughout conflicts.
Above all of this however, the human costs certainly cannot be ignored. According to the July 20, 2003, New York Times, the then defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld had to approve dozens of air strikes (up to 50) in Iraq. Personal approval from Rumsfeld was deemed necessary if there were expected to be more than 50 civilian deaths per strike. – Is this an admission that the US approved of what they estimated would be 2500 civilian deaths? There are strikes in Afghanistan that have killed (according to UNAMA) 63 civilians (men are excluded from these counts, because it cannot be verified whether they are combatants or not) other sources say that as many as 76 women and children have lost their lives in single strikes. Surely the innocent lives taken or otherwise destroyed, are cause enough to ask questions of liberating actions, or their perceived obligations in these situations?
There is no doubt that intentions of these aerial campaigns, aren’t to take civilian lives. However, while some may take care to avoid these kind of unfortunate incidents, it clearly isn’t always the case. There are always those who won’t abide by the rules, and those who would prefer to bend or ignore them.
And then there are the cover-ups and the availability of unambiguous information. One NATO commander was once quoted as saying that his planes carried out one of the most accurate bombing campaigns in history, while news reports were showing the damage they had caused to power stations and radio and television transmission points.
Implying that America or other powers “charge” for liberating the oppressed is simply absurd. What’s more, putting a monetary cost on such “liberation” contradicts the “good nature” and “compassion for their plight” that invading, liberating armies will often use to justify their cause. Consider someone destroying your home, building a block of flats on the land, and then asking you to reimburse them for the demolition costs, because now they believe (correctly or not) that they have improved your situation.
In a world where war is a now a massive money-making machine – a highly profitable business – asking for financial recompense for bringing war to a country is just adding insult to injury. Especially when they will eventually end up taking it anyway.
published on Helium.com