"Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth has been stripped of you by unjust men. ... The people of Baghdad shall flourish under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws. ... The Arab race may rise once more to greatness!"
Are these George Bush's or Tony Blair's words? -- No. They were uttered on March 8, 1917 by Lieutenant-general Stanley Maude, when Great Britain occupied Iraq in order to seize its petrol. It was the beginning of decades of occupation, sanctioned by the San Remo Protocole of October 11, 1918, that gave Britain a "mandate" over Palestine and Mesopotamia. Those decades were marked by a long series of insurrection and brutal repression, including the RAF's use of gas on Kurdish rebels in the 1930s. This last example was followed by Saddam Hussein a little more than half a century later. (In any case, when Winston Churchill ordered the use of poison gas against the "uncivilized tribes" of Afghanistan, a little earlier, in the 1920ies, he had justified it as a way "to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier" and he had denounced the "squeamishness" of the soft-hearted ninnies who failed to understand that chemical weapons were just "the application of modern science to modern warfare")
Is it not as ironical as it is sad that George Bush and Tony Blair, as they were initiating the new Protectorate over Iraq and over its reserves of petrol, used the very same words as Lieutenant-general Maude, in their TV message of a few days ago to the Iraqis (who, of course, could not hear them, because the Coalition of the Accomplices had destroyed their electric installations).
There is a beast in every human being. That beast is almost infallibly unleashed when people are placed in a situation of extreme violence. The extreme, brutal firing and bombing power used during three weeks to destroy everything and everyone that had something to do with the former Regime in Iraq and especially in Baghdad has unleashed the violence that is now continuing to destroy the rest of the Iraqi society through looting, blind killing, repression, etc.
All this is an ominous sign of what one should expect of this new occupation that has been modelled in many ways on the occupation of Palestine by Israel (only with a much more absolute destroying power). Here is a little example of what happened on April 11th, according to a description given by Robert Fisk of The Independant, certainly one of the most seasoned and respected war correspondents of our time, who has covered more than a dozen wars during the last few decades:
After a gun battle in the Adamiya area [in Bagdhad] during the morning, an American Marine sniper sitting atop the palace gate wounded three civilians, including a little girl, in a car that failed to halt – then shot and killed a man who had walked on to his balcony to discover the source of the firing. Within minutes, the sniper also shot dead the driver of another car and wounded two more passengers in that vehicle, including a young woman. A crew from Channel 4 Television was present when the killings took place. (The Independent, April 11, 2003)
One would believe that this was a description of something happening on the West Bank. No. It was in Baghdad, on April 10, 2003, on day 2 of the USA Protectorate over Iraq.
Yes, April 9, when Baghdad fell, was the day of a great DEFEAT. The defeat of all the values upon which the West thought it had founded what it liked to call "civilization".