The Explanation, Please

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 11:13 AM

Professional fighting man Colonel Tim Collins, formerly of the Royal Irish Regiment, is wondering what this Iraq adventure, in which he famously took part, is all about. (See below.) He doesn't think “our leaders” have given him a good explanation. One could say that explanations have been given, but they do not add up. There seems to be a missing part of the puzzle. Something has been left out.

Why are the nominal leaders of the “loyal opposition” in America, the Democratic Party, not demanding to know what Collins is asking in England? Just a few days ago, Karl Rove, “Bush's Brain” and chief advisor, bragged off the record to a privileged gathering in Aspen, Colorado that “There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...” (My emphasis.)

The question is, why not? What are American politicians afraid of, now that a majority of Americans have finally seen the light and are against this strange, bloody adventure which has obviously gone awry, like anti-war types said it would all along?

What “serious politicians”--take Hillary Clinton, for example--are afraid of is the real explanation, the hidden agenda, the key to the whole affair. Karl Rove doesn't give a damn about anything outside of politics, and he knows what he is talking about in this matter. What is the reason for his certainty?

American politicians “with anything to do with anything” are suborned by the fund-raising system which feeds them, and therefore need to keep their mouths shut about this affair. Anything honest and informed they might say would be an indictment not just of the Bush administration, but of themselves. So they relegate their remarks to nitpicking the way the war has been managed, and Tim Collins and others continue to wonder what it is all about.

I can tell you what it is all about. As you may have noticed, I am troubled by the motivation which would make the White House  fabricate a WMD threat to justify the unprovoked invasion of another country. This event may not be entirely unique in American history, but that does not devalue its importance or make it any the less fascinating.

Bush and Dick Cheney are first and foremost mendacious, single-minded politicians interested in succeeding in the business of politics. Hence the importance of Rove. The “neoconservatives” have no power, and are intellectual window dressing. As politicians, Bush and the Republicans could only be motivated by politics and self-interest, something real, not ideas. They are not intellectuals.

In my view, the controlling motive to invade Iraq was to secure the support of the formidable Israel Lobby, to abscond with the Jewish vote, and to redirect some of the Jewish campaign contributions from the Democratic Party to the Republicans. In short, “Operation Iraqi Freedom” can be viewed as a joint and covert Ariel Sharon/Karl Rove operation. Uncle Sam has been taken for a ride to advance a private agenda based on ethnic politics. 

It was in fact a conspiracy, one in which the Democrats had to go along, since the Democrats had been co-opted. That is why the Democrats can't blow the whistle now. To put it another way, do you think the White House, any White House, would do anything in the Middle East that Tel Aviv objected to?

From the perspective of the West, as opposed to Zionist perceived self-interest, the Americans and the Brits simply have no business being in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. The days of the Raj are long gone. Certainly America and England have enough real problems at home to attend to.

This is a mess of our own making

Tim Collins told his troops this was a war of liberation, not conquest. Now he says that he was naive to believe it

Tim Collins

Sunday September 18, 2005

The Observer [London]

When I led my men of the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment across the border into Iraq we believed we were going to do some good. Goodwill and optimism abounded; it was to be a liberation, I had told my men, not a conquest.

In Iraq I sought to surround myself with advisers - Iraqis - who could help me understand what needed to be done. One of the first things they taught me was that the Baath party had been a fact of life for 35 years. Like the Nazi party, they said, it needed to be decapitated, harnessed and dismantled, each function replaced with the new regime. Many of these advisers were Baathists, yet were eager to co-operate, fired with the enthusiasm of the liberation. How must it look to them now?

What I had not realised was that there was no real plan at the higher levels to replace anything, indeed a simplistic and unimaginative over-reliance in some senior quarters on the power of destruction and crude military might. We were to beat the Iraqis. That simple. Everything would come together after that.

The Iraqi army was defeated - it walked away from most fights - but was then dismissed without pay to join the ranks of the looters smashing the little infrastructure left, and to rail against their treatment. The Baath party was left undisturbed. The careful records it kept were destroyed with precision munitions by the coalition; the evidence erased, they were left with a free rein to agitate and organise the insurrection. A vacuum was created in which the coalition floundered, the Iraqis suffered and terrorists thrived.

One cannot help but wonder what it was all about. If it was part of the war on terror then history might notice that the invasion has arguably acted as the best recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda ever: a sort of large-scale equivalent of the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry in 1972, which in its day filled the ranks of the IRA. If it was an attempt to influence the price of oil, then the motorists who queued last week would hardly be convinced. If freedom and a chance to live a dignified, stable life free from terror was the motive, then I can think of more than 170 families in Iraq last week who would have settled for what they had under Saddam. UK military casualties reached 95 last week. I nightly pray the total never reaches 100.

The consequences of this adventure may run even deeper. Hurricane Katrina has caused a reappraisal of the motives and aims of this war in the US. The storm came perhaps in the nick of time as hawks in Washington were glancing towards Iran and its newly found self-confidence in global affairs. Meanwhile, China and India are growing and sucking up every drop of oil, every scrap of concrete or steel even as the old-world powers of the UK and US pour blood and treasure into overseas campaigns which seem to have no ending and no goal.

It is time for our leaders to explain what is going on. It was as a battalion commander trying to explain to his men why they would embark on a war that I came to public notice. The irony is that I made certain assumptions that my goodwill and altruistic motivations went to the top. Clearly I was naive. This time it is the role of the leaders of nations to explain where we are going and why. I, for one, demand to know.