On 11 September 2001, the United States, for the first time in its history, suffered a terrorist attack of a warlike nature on home soil. The toppling of the two World Trade Center towers marked a turning point in history. The image of the attacks in the world's newspapers and news media meant that not even the United States was infallible. Fear spread in the West, which, in turn, looked for culprits. As has happened throughout history, the righteous always pay for the sinners: this time it was Iraq's turn two and a half years later.
While it is work that alters social circumstances, language is the weapon used to accelerate or slow down the change of those conditions, the word is the first exercise of power. Through communication, through the exchange of information, human beings become aware of their experiences, which they disagree with others in stating. The first awareness takes place in the insurrection of the world, as Paulo Freire said. Thus, for example, when experiences are intense or unsatisfactory and are expressed, the pain, the discontent, can pass from resignation to provocation, to the demand to eliminate the cause of suffering.
The manipulative use of language is as old as the domination of some human beings over others. All dominators, magicians, religious, political, economic, intellectual, etc., have used words to confuse, terrorise, conceal and preserve ignorance about the real relations of domination and exploitation. The top representatives of Nazism, such as Hitler and Goebbels, coming from Catholicism, were meticulous in this. They set the tone for today's fundamentalists, such as Bush and the clique that rules the destinies of the world today from the state offices of Washington and the offices of their predatory companies.
Language, like terrorism, targets citizens and creates fear, professes symbolic and psychological violence. It produces effects beyond meaning. Words are like tiny doses of poison that can be swallowed without one realising it. At first glance they seem to have no effect and then, after a short time, the toxic reaction manifests itself. "Man is as prone to the hypnotic effect of slogans as he is to contagious diseases," said the Hungarian essayist Arthur Köstler. The most lethal weapon is language. Without words there is no war.
Once the new government was in place in Afghanistan, the media profile of the operations of the troops that remained there in the search for al-Qaeda leaders was lowered and, unable to find Osama bin Laden, the information was simply forgotten by the press. When important leaders were arrested, there were sporadic signs of continued activity in the region, but the public's attention was shifted to another sphere, since there were elements that the world and the US's own domestic sphere of action disliked in its explanations: memories of the Vietnam War. The information in this evolution was aimed at revitalising Iraq's non-compliance with UN resolutions and the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. A process that was eventually repeated by the American nation, for example in Libya under the NATO framework, and in Syria under the shield of "world peace".
To this end, the increase of control flights in the no-fly zone and its continuous transgressions by Iraq is publicised and pressure is increased on the world to repeatedly dispatch inspectors. All of this allowed for absolute coherence so as not to surprise with its deployment of troops to the Gulf area, a recruitment that was carried out openly and whose communications campaign was highly successful, as there were no grandiose adverse reactions. There was full concordance and credibility between what was warned and what was accomplished, to shift attention to the new threat axis.
In February 2003, a month before the US invasion of Iraq, a document from inside the US State Department entitled "Steering the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Growth" was part of a larger set of secret documents entitled "Iraq Strategy". The Economic Plan recklessly penetrates terrain no invasion design has ever entered before: the complete reworking, it says, of "the policies, laws and norms" of the conquered state. A detailed programme, begun years before the tanks started rolling, to impose a new regime of low taxation on big business, and the rapid sale of Iraqi assets, indeed, "all state-owned enterprises" to foreign operators. So far, this military strike plan remains the only one in history to appear as an appendix to a programme to tighten the copyright laws of the targeted nation.
During the preparatory phase, there is a sharp focus on how revealing Iraq's oil reserves are, how backward its technology is, and what they could be for the benefit of its fellow man in the world, for which the main obstacle is Saddam, whose name is Hussein, and who must be removed from power. At this moment of communication, new variables begin to focus on the problem of Iraq, in the eyes of public opinion, to validate other important objectives, in addition to the internal situation and the non-compliance with the resolutions on weapons of mass destruction. This moment is relevant because it externalises that whatever the motive, the conflict will occur while world opinion is being scrutinised.
The collective aggression that wars entail cannot be explained simply by the principles that govern other forms of interpersonal aggression. To carry out acts of war requires a complex social organisation that manages material and human resources and plans group actions. It requires the acquiescence and involvement of important social collectives, even of society as a whole, in order to be able to carry out actions that would otherwise be difficult to perpetrate, due to the very serious implications they have.
Muntazer al-Zaidi is the Iraqi journalist who became known around the world for having thrown his shoes in 2008 at the then US president, George W. Bush, who a few days earlier had announced in Geneva the creation of a foundation to help the victims of the war in Iraq. The journalist, who was punished with nine months in prison in Baghdad for that act, became a hero in the Arab world. Al-Zaidi, who said at the time he acted "as an Iraqi citizen and not as a journalist". The White House reiterates time and again that the world is safer now.
The aggrieved Arab world does not share such voluntarism: when asked whether the Iraq war would increase or reduce terrorist activities against the US, almost 80 per cent on average said it would increase them. Nor is it credible to this majority that the US entered Iraq to rid it of Hussainite autocracy and bring peace and stability to the Middle East. It ponders that the "extremely important" and "very important" motivations were different from the "official" ones. From 45% of Saudis to 88% of Lebanese felt that the real reason was oil; from 47% in Saudi Arabia to 73% in the UAE, that the aim was to weaken the Muslim world; from 44% in Saudi Arabia to 82% in Lebanon, that it was an action to protect Israel; from 43% in Saudi Arabia to 77% in the UAE, that the US seeks to dominate Islam. In conclusion, in all 12 countries for the three dimensions, negative assessments predominate over positive ones, especially in Arab countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Iraq had the third largest oil and gold reserves in the world. According to CBS, the US Army will begin its conquest with attacks so devastating that: "The soldiers will be unable and unwilling to resist". The idea of the US is that the attack will be so brutal that it will produce, in the words of the US: shock and awe. The NATO and US Navy launched between 300 and 400 cruise missiles against Iraq. More bombs were dropped in a matter of minutes than in the 40 days of the first Gulf War, while the West watched on television.
"The centre of Baghdad will look like hell on earth", was one of the goriest statements made on the CNN broadcast, which reproduced the words of members of the US Army. The citizens of the capital suffered sensory isolation, using mass destruction as the perfect excuse to give them a fresh start. At the time of Saddam's execution, more than 1,000 people a week were dying in Iraq. In 2007 the UN estimated that more than 4 million Iraqi refugees had to leave Iraq, while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis had died. Before sanctions, Iraq had the best education system in the region and a literacy rate of 88%; in New Mexico it was 56%.
The US strategy was based on two actions: economic shock or disaster capitalism, born out of the Chicago School, which sought to make the disaster itself the perfect opportunity for the US to proliferate its favourite businesses: plundering gold, oil and arms sales under the cover of "world peace". The shock of repression. During the first three years of the occupation, more than 61,000 Iraqis were captured and, once in prison, tortured by the US Army using 1950s techniques; 70-80% of the arrests made were erroneous, as the US government finally admitted. The result: Iraq was left in a state of continuous, anarchic and violent shock.
The United States, the most powerful empire on earth in the history of mankind, was forced to withdraw from Iraq after seven and a half years of a military invasion based on deception and lies that unleashed a bloody, immoral, inhumane and barbarically destructive war. The US invasion of Iraq began 20 years ago. It was justified by nuclear weapons that never existed and was an outrage against human rights and international law. It leaves a devastated country, plunged into material poverty and political misery after murdering Saddam Hussein, killing more than 1.2 million civilians and destroying historical monuments that are part of the heritage of humanity and the beginnings of Western civilisation. It has begun to withdraw but is leaving some 50,000 troops behind to guard its "conquests", or heists, especially of hydrocarbons.
Two decades after the US entered Iraq, toppling Saddam Hussein's regime and building a "democratic" regime, it seems that most Iraqis have become less optimistic and more complaining about the new regime compared to the years following the invasion. Corruption, instability and bloody conflict have dominated the country, which, as a result, is now very close to Iran, which is openly hostile to Washington.
Coordinator of America: José Antonio Sierra.