Fifteen years on from the Iraq invasion and the people of that country, indeed the entire region, are still enduring the fallout. In fact, the only thing that has not changed is the way in which much of the western media still chooses to refer to it as a military misadventure or mistake. Instead of calling it what it was: a war of aggression. Which, according to the judgement of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, represents the supreme international crime; “differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”. That, and the fact that none of those directly involved or complicit by virtue of their sheer impotence — from George W Bush to Tony Blair to Kofi Annan — has ever been brought to book.
That they have not remains one of the greatest travesties of the contemporary Middle East. For the coalition of the willing decimated Iraqi society. Just as Paul Bremmer, the then governor of the occupation, destroyed the fabric of a functioning state with his erroneous de-Ba’athification of the armed forces and civil service. This combination of bullets and bombs and mass unemployment gave rise to the insecurity situation that still prevails today. Indeed, there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq and no ISIS at all before this hubris of militarised regime change. Though this did not prevent Blair from saying he would do it all again to rid the world of the Butcher of Baghdad.
This, of course, raises important questions regarding the moral compass of relativity. Or put another way: who gets to decide to rob an entire citizenry of their agency? Meaning that unilateral foreign warfare never has the welfare of the people of the targeted nation as a priority. For the simple reason that geo-political gains have no human face. This is a pattern that has been repeated in Libya and Syria. And when these aggressions fail to produce swift results that benefit the those who choose to wage war — the peoples who are at the receiving end are simply and cruelly dismissed as not being ready for democracy.
The key towards reconciliation has to be justice. The Iraqi people have never been deemed worth of such consideration. For, frankly, British offers to help Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi put ISIS on trial for war crimes does not cut it. Not nearly. And then there is the not un-small matter of this being an entirely unnecessary war. Not only in terms of the non-existent WMDs. But when it comes to Afghanistan; that unfinished war which was disastrously put on hold.
Yet it seems that that some of the world’s most powerful nations have still not learned the lessons from the bloody invasions of the 21st century. Not when certain sections of the right-wing American media are touting North Korea as the next ‘preventive war’. Though no White House will be prepared to go down that path. For there is some weight to the old argument that Iraq was occupied because the US knew it had no WMDs. Indeed, Libya was only targeted once Col Gaddafi had surrendered his chemical weapons programme. All of which may mean that Kim Jong-un will ultimately not wish to play ball.
Sadly, there is little optimism to be mustered as the world looks ahead to the next 15 years.