Saturday, 24 December 2011

End of war fought for US power

So, the Yanks are going home. Apart from the thousands of their servicemen and women whose life-blood they are leaving in the sands of Iraq. And the tens of thousands too maimed or otherwise damaged to make it back to home and hearth. And minus the trillions of dollars in treasure they have expended on destroying an Arab country (which may have lost a million souls and seen three millions off into exile), fanning the flames of fanaticism, and unleashing a wave of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world.

Nice work, but hardly "Mission Accomplished" as the melancholy valediction delivered by President Obama at Fort Bragg this week made clear to the discerning. The more he talked about what he once called the "dumb war" the more obvious it was that his was the task of holding the dipped banner of defeat. And the crew of thick-necked servicemen straight out of central casting roaring their approval at his description of their success could not quite drown out the sound of the Last Post. This is the death knell of American empire. Like Ozymandius history, which hasn’t ended after all, will invite us to gaze upon its ruined works and tremble. But instead we will rejoice, rejoice. For the Project for the New American Century it will be never glad confident morning again.

The war which was waged, yes for oil and yes also for Israel, was waged above all to terrify the world (especially China) with American power. It turned into the largest boomerang in history. For what has been demonstrated instead are the limits of near bankrupt American power. Far from being cowed, America’s adversaries and its enemies have been emboldened. With shock and awe the empire soon dominated the skies over Iraq to be sure. But they never controlled a single street in the country from the day they invaded until this day of retreat. One street alone, Haifa Street in Baghdad became the graveyard of scores, maybe hundreds of Americans. Fortresses like Fallujah entered history alongside Stalingrad as symbols of the unvanquishable power of popular resistance to foreign invasion. Crimes like Abu Ghraib prison where Iraqis were stripped naked and humiliated forced to perform indecent acts upon each other and videotaped doing so for the entertainment of their torturers in the barracks afterwards entered the lexicon of the barbarism of those who invade others, flying the colours of their "civilising" mission.

As Chairman Mao once said; "sometimes the enemy struggles mightily to lift a huge stone; only to drop it on its own foot". In an America where a third of the population according to the Census Bureau are living in poverty or terrifyingly near it and where imperial hubris met its nemesis on Haifa Street, China now knows it has nothing to fear from this paper tiger.

Almost nobody in Britain or America any longer believes a word their politicians say. This profound change is not wholly the result of the Iraq War, but the war and the militarised mendacity which paved the way to it was, when it moved into top gear. In America this malaise has fuelled both the Tea Party phenomenon and the Occupy movement alike. And from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf the plates are moving still...