Nov 23


So another 140 or more people have been killed in Iraq today. This comes a day after it was reported that October was the month with the heaviest death toll in Iraq, since the American-British invasion in March 2003.

Obviously, the seeds of the civil war in Iraq were not sown yesterday. That a three-headed monster lurked within Iraq and was being kept at bay by Saddam Hussein — a hydra-headed civil war machine comprising Sunnis, Shias and Kurds – was known to everyone with even a smattering of Middle Eastern history.

So why were the Americans and the British unaware of this but only interested in non-existent weapons of mass destruction? Why did they not care in the least about what would happen in Iraq if this beast was let loose? Did their military and political intelligence services not do what they call an ”appreciation” before their armies invaded Iraq? If they did, what did they come up with? That the Sunnis and Shias and Kurds would forget their enmity and welcome the American-British forces with open arms?

I once had the opportunity of being driven to a TV station to talk about world affairs by a man who had risen to become a major in an African army, but was now, alas, a mere cab driver in England. He opened a conversation with me when he got to know my mission. He wanted to know what I thought of the coming conflict in Iraq. I told him I was angry with Saddam because it was stupid of Saddam to allow the Americans to unleash their bombs on his Iraqi people twice in a lifetime. “They’re just going to raze the place to the ground again and burn so many Iraqi soldiers and the tanks they’ve been expensively equipped with,” I said. “Didn’t you see the pictures taken of Iraqi soldiers slaughtered in the desert by the Americans when they invaded Iraq in 1991?” I asked.

The guy didn’t agree with me: “Saddam will be victorious in the coming war,” he said. I was totally stupefied by this assertion, which I thought was quite unrealistic. But he insisted: “You wait and see. Saddam will enable the world to see plainly that a people can rise up against a foreign invader, however powerful, and drive it out. You mark my words, the Americans won’t be able to stay in Iraq. They will leave with their tails between their legs. And the world will never respect the Americans again, seeing the stupidity they, the Americans, will display in Iraq. The world will remember Saddam for making it impossible for anyone to fear the Americans and their superior weaponry, ever again.”

I have often wondered about where that guy got his analytical prowess and prescience from. For everything he said has come true before our very eyes. Saddam has been captured, yes. But he has added to the knowledge gained by the world from the Vietnam War: namely, that (as the Chinese used to say) “The US and its allies are just paper tigers.”


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