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Though the circumstances are essentially very different the situation developing in Iraq could well end with the same result; a haunted America finally forced to withdraw having suffered severe losses and the destruction of both its reputation and influence throughout the region. A growing number of ordinary Iraqi citizens already see the United States forces not as liberators but as a hated Army of occupation.
The heavily armed 'sweeps' though supposedly friendly territory; the hunt and kill operations leaving homes wrecked and dozens dead merely strengthens the influence of those opposed to America's presence.
The growing suspicion that Washington launched an unjust war almost entirely for crude economic advantage; to gain control of one of the worlds last great sources of oil, while the stunning and humiliating failure to find any concrete evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has already seriously undermined America's international standing, and indeed that of its leading allies. Worse still for Britain, Tony Blair's excruciating naivety has allowed a major military involvement in the future of Iraq to develop and one which Harold Wilson's Labour Government successfully avoided in Vietnam.
Iraq has of course been on the receiving end of Whitehall's idea's of democracy in the past. British troops first liberated Iraq and its oil from Turkey in 1918 and were not to finally leave until 1958, during which time the RAF was to regularly bomb Iraqi tribal villages. Sadly it is also apparently the case that on some occasions Britain used Mustard Gas in the 1920's and 1930's against those tribesmen. Statements by Tony Blair and George Bush suggesting that the invasion of 2003 is designed to bring freedom and democracy to those Iraqi's it doesn't kill will be treated with great suspicion in Baghdad and Basra.
Similar promises that the Allied forces will only remain as long as necessary for a national administration to take over will no doubt be treated with outright contempt by those who have noticed that US forces have a habit of long outstaying their welcome, whether in Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Latin America and perhaps even Europe. The lessons of US involvement in South East Asia, of France in Algeria and Israel in the Lebanon and Palestine are one's that Washington would be wise to heed. The Middle East may be easy to get into, but very difficult and bloody to escape from.
Richard M. Bennett ~ Richard Bennett Media. [email protected] Books by Richard M Bennett include FIGHTING FORCES (Barron's-New York 2001), ESPIONAGE (Virgin-London 2002), ELITE FORCES (Virgin-London Feb 2003) CONSPIRACIES (Virgin-London Sept 2003), TOP SECRET (NEW In preparation), ESPIONAGE (Paperback edition Summer 2003), ELITE FORCES (Paperback edition - In preparation for 2004) Copyright R Bennett 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .