It was disgracefully dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom” by the invading United States navy forces, however for tens of millions of Iraqis around the globe, it was something however.
Final week marked the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of what then-United Nations Secretary-Normal Kofi Annan described extra appropriately as an “illegal” conflict on Iraq by the US and its allies.
What we did be taught from the conflict is the abhorrent hypocrisy of labels in conflicts when seen by a Western lens. This conflict has, as an Iraqi, plagued my ideas each day since March 2003. It has left tons of of hundreds of Iraqis lifeless, with tens of millions of others displaced and their lives ruined.
Photographs of Baghdad’s night time sky lit up by flames, as bombs have been indiscriminately dropped extra often than a ticking clock on the Metropolis of Peace, are ceaselessly etched in our recollections. For weeks, nights turned to day, as Iraqis would pray to make it to the morning alive.
The years that adopted may hardly be forgotten, both. From an oppressive occupation to sectarian governance, the Iraq conflict has continued to wreck the lives of tens of millions. My family is now scattered around the globe, from Canada to Australia, because of the brutal invasion.
Sadly, over the past 20 years, we have now didn’t see any accountability for the plethora of lies and false arguments by each former US President George W Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s governments that led to an era-defining battle.
In distinction, it took present US President Joe Biden mere weeks to decry his Russian counterpart as a “war criminal” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In fact, Vladimir Putin’s conflict on Ukraine is brutal and unlawful. However what about Biden’s personal warmongering? Let me remind you: Biden championed a war in Iraq years earlier than Bush even took workplace.
Inside a mere few days of US navy motion in Iraq, more than 15,000 Iraqis lost their lives in violent battle because of Washington’s “shock and awe” tactic to overwhelm the nation with its navy may. To place this into context, and though one harmless life misplaced is one too many, the entire demise toll in Ukraine of non-combatants since the war began a year ago is an estimated 8,000 civilians.
But whereas Russia has been hit by sanctions by a number of Western nations and their allies, and the Worldwide Felony Court docket has issued an arrest warrant towards Putin, we noticed none of this with the US, United Kingdom, Bush and Blair.
There’s little distinction even between the language utilized by Bush and Putin earlier than their respective wars. Forward of the Iraq invasion, Bush used phrases like “freedom”, “liberation” and “war on terror”. Putin equally claimed he was liberating Ukraine and curbing “terrorism” within the area.
Such are the parallels that in a second of weird irony, Bush — whereas trying to denounce Putin’s invasion final yr — accidentally scolded his personal actions, criticising in a speech “the choice of 1 man to launch an entirely unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq”.
The truth is that each leaders used false narratives to construct public assist for wars which have redefined their respective areas. Very like Bush’s claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Putin advised Ukraine has ambitions to make use of chemical weapons.
It was Bush, nonetheless, who did use incendiary weapons in Iraq within the type of white phosphorus in Fallujah, with youngsters to at the present time struggling delivery defects as a consequence of the lasting results of the chemical. But removed from going through accountability, Bush has been allowed to redefine his personal narrative as an immigrant-loving artist.
If he isn’t seeing out his days of retirement at his ranch in Texas, he will be discovered dancing with Ellen DeGeneres on prime-time tv. Former US Secretary of Protection Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, each architects of the Iraq conflict, handed away with out going through justice. Bush have to be held to account earlier than it’s too late.
Conveniently, Bush withdrew the US from the Worldwide Felony Court docket in the yr earlier than the Iraq invasion, making it close to to unattainable to carry US leaders or navy officers to account for alleged conflict crimes. When the ICC’s prime prosecutor needed to analyze alleged conflict crimes by US troopers in Afghanistan in 2020, Washington imposed sanctions on her — very like Putin’s Russia has opened a case towards the present ICC prosecutor.
In opposition to this backdrop, the US making allegations of conflict crimes towards Putin appears hypocritical. A minimum of 800,000 Iraqis have been killed as a consequence of Bush’s alleged divinely impressed invasion of Iraq.
Those that dared oppose the eight-year US occupation in Iraq have been labelled as insurgents. Many have been infamously tortured and sexually abused by US troops on the now infamous Abu Ghraib jail.
Comparable resistance actions in Ukraine, nonetheless, are branded as heroic for standing as much as Russian occupation. Ukrainians have been celebrated for making home made Molotov cocktails as defence weapons, however when related acts of resistance occurred in Iraq or Palestine, the label “terrorist” was used. This racist double commonplace has been evident all through the previous yr.
The touching acts of worldwide solidarity with Ukraine —from Premier League soccer matches elevating Ukrainian flags to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy giving a speech on the Golden Globes this yr — have been by no means on show for the victims of the brutal Iraq conflict.
If the absence of assist and empathy was not dangerous sufficient, the conflict on Ukraine unsheathed a disregard for the lives of individuals within the International South affected by lethal conflicts usually plotted in Western capitals. “This isn’t a spot, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen battle raging for many years,” mentioned Charlie D’Agata, a senior CBS Information correspondent, reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine.”You recognize, it is a comparatively civilised, comparatively European — I’ve to decide on these phrases fastidiously, too — metropolis the place you wouldn’t count on that or hope that it’s going to occur.”
The rationale Iraq has witnessed a long time price of conflict is immediately linked to Bush’s 2003 determination to invade a rustic that had already been ravaged by years of brutal sanctions. The demise of harmless Iraqis issues simply as a lot because the deaths of harmless Ukrainians. Simply as Ukrainians deserve life and solidarity, so too do Iraqis.
Simply as we must always need Putin to be tried for his crimes, we needs to be demanding that Bush be charged for his. We can not wait one other 20 years.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.