Mairead Maguire: Reflections on the invasion of Iraq
The Nobel Peace Laureate reflects on the 'tragedy of Iraq'
The story of what was done to the Iraqi people by UK and Western allies is shocking and deeply disturbing. The two wars, the imposition of economic sanctions, causing the slow deaths of thousands of people, were indeed crimes against humanity, war crimes, breaking all international obligations and conducted with no respect for human life or Iraqi Peoples Rights. The UK/USA acted unilaterally ignoring the principal of multilateralism and irrespective of the enormous opposition to war against Iraq, articulated by millions of people around the world. The invasion was carried out by US/UK Nato forces on the basis of a lie that Iraq had nuclear weapons and was a threat to the US. The Foreign Policy of the US/UK governments were for Regime Change and about Iraqi oil, and the method used were genocidal sanctions, wars and the invasion of Iraq. The ‘shock and awe’ bombing of unarmed civilians by US/UK/Allied forces was not about bringing democracy and human rights to Iraq. It was about Regime Change, Oil, Imperial Power, arms, the total destruction of infrastructure and the starvation into submission of the Iraqi population.
The arrogance and superiority of the UK, USA and allies as they set aside international law and institutions of the world order by the UK/USA hegemony in a new era of dedication to ‘war on terror’. Many anti-war and peace campaigners and people marched in their millions around the world, to say ‘No to war’. However, millions of world citizens - whose pleas for peace and dialogue were totally swept aside by governments - continue to proclaim that the US/UK governments and were wrong. We are sorry, and please forgive us for the war crimes committed against the Iraqi people by our governments.
The injustice perpetrated by the UK invasion of Iraq included mass murder of innocent Iraqi children through sanctions, their families, homes, destruction of the food chain, bombs dropped with depleted uranium, white phosphorus dropped on civilians and land, the destruction of infrastructure, torture, invasion, occupations, renditions, extra-judicial murders, theft of oil and resources. All of this needs to be told in the hope that justice will be done and reparations for such injustices will be made.
I personally witnessed the horrors of war and sanctions when I visited Iraq in 1999 after the first Gulf war and during the economic sanction regime put on by the West. Our peace delegation visited hospitals where children lay slowly dying in agony with no pain medication, from malnutrition and preventable diseases. Doctors were pleading with us to help get the sanctions lifted to save their people. Over one million Iraqi children under the age of five died as a result of economic sanctions imposed by UK and other Western governments.
During meetings with Iraqi government officials they told us they wanted to enter into dialogue with the UK and US governments and diplomats in order to save Iraq from invasion, but no dialogue was being pursued in place of the Western imperial war agenda for power and control.
UN officials told us that Iraq had no weapons of mass destructions and Iraq was not a military threat to anyone outside of Iraq.
The tragedy of Iraq is that with political will by UK/US governments to solve the problem through dialogue and diplomacy so many millions of Iraqi lives, and the lives of British and US soldiers, could have been saved. There was (as there always is) an alternative to violence and war. Iraq was yet another war that did not need to be fought.
I personally would have liked to see the Chilcot Report contain an admission of war crimes, and an apology to the people of Iraq, so that the ground would be set for healing, forgiveness, peace and reconciliation in a country now being tragically torn apart by violence, sectarianism and war. The long road to peace in Iraq can be helped by the UK government, who participated in the Iraqi war, instead telling the truth and saying things like ‘we are sorry’ and ‘please forgive us’, as well as by contributing where possible to the building of peace and reconciliation in Iraq.
Source: Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate - www.peacepeople.com