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Losing a war
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-12-11 09:23:57
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Over the last year Iraq has managed to monopolize our interest. A war zone, a civil war, hundreds of innocent victims daily, bombs in the centre of the cities and behind all of that is a dead dictator and his regime, American and British troops, plus their allies, and of course the UN stands in the corner with the rest of the world watching this devastating view.

I don't know if that was intentional and some sort of spin game but with a lot of help from the media we all focused on Iraq. In the beginning the big question was if Iraq was part of the Al-Qaeda network, if Saddam supported the terrorist organization that had targeted the WTC and, most importantly, whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. For most of those we now have the answers - Iraq was not part of the Al-Qaeda network but it did after the invasion and all the mistakes the American administration made while handling the situation. Saddam often befriended the enemies of his enemy – in this case anything western – but he was not so trustworthy even to the terrorists, especially in the case of Bin Laden, so the answer to that has been yes, with a 'but'!

Coming to the WMD, that’s a big question mark now; if we mean biological WMD, the Kurds of Iraq are the living proof of that. Using biological and chemical WMD the Saddam regime nearly vanquished them from the earth, which was actually only a test to understand how they work. But now another question arises: Who doesn’t have biological or chemical WMD? Mustard gas is something most of the countries have and the police forces have used it in small quantities already. After the fall of the Soviet Union biological and chemical weapons became products for export with the Russian mafia and former Soviet soldiers handling the market and selling them to whoever had the right money. By now many African and Asian countries have bought and stockpiled them. In this case the question is if they could produce, which most likely they could, so the case of the Kurds again is enough proof. However, as the invading army found out, nothing was left from all that, obviously the first invasion to Iraq had succeeded on that point.

So the big fear regarding the WMD was nuclear weapons. Up to one point Saddam obviously tried to play poker with the Americans by bluffing about Iraq’s ability to create nuclear warheads. To make more realistic his bluff, Saddam used his new missiles, which in theory could even reach the British army bases in Cyprus but in practice could go only a few miles before exploding. The invasion proved that he was holding the most miserable cards and he was far from even getting into the theoretical part of creating nuclear weapons. The invasion of Iraq happened for all the wrong reasons and that’s why the UN and most of the countries didn’t participate in this invasion, with some of them making loud their opposition, including major European countries, with the result being treated as hostiles and enemies from the American administration and increased the feeling of distrust that there is between the western powers.

But returning to the beginning, the reasoning behind this invasion was that nobody wanted a regime like Saddam’s in a network with Al-Qaeda and the possibility of having nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Al-Qaeda was based in Afghanistan and still is; their proven ally had and has been the Taliban. Thousands of Taliban troops, with a lot of help from Al-Qaeda, financial or with weapons since Al-Qaeda’s money-stock seems to be endless, are fighting the NATO and UN troops wherever they can, even worse is that they seem to have retaken whole cities and areas. How can we all count the death-rolls of the American soldiers in Iraq and we seem to have forgotten what’s going on in Afghanistan? Somehow nowadays it is safer in Baghdad than anywhere in Afghanistan and there is an identified and visual enemy. After all, in Afghanistan we were the world united …or were we not?

After 9/11 and identifying the enemy, the country and the regime that hosted him there was no country anywhere in this world that didn’t join the UN in that expedition to put an end to this international threat. And they won battles but obviously not the war. The enemy is still there alive and kicking. Bin Laden is travelling between the borders of Pakistan and the mountains of Afghanistan, the Taliban get one city after the other pushing the international troops back to the only safe place, the inner circle around the capital Kabul while the country quickly returns to the dark ages of the Taliban and Bin Laden.

The manpower, the technological advances and the hardware of the world united is tremendous enough to make you wonder why we are losing the war in Afghanistan. Why have we lost our focus on the real enemy and have turned it to the private war of one American administration? In Afghanistan there are American soldiers, alongside Germans, Brits and French, plus there are Finnish, Greek, Italian and Spanish peacekeepers. So why is Bin Laden still free and how are all of these barefooted long-bearded men able to win the war with all of our troops retreating all the time?

We have forgotten Afghanistan and we are all part of the problem and the mistake, while we are counting the death-roll of the Americans in Iraq people die in Afghanistan, and while we are wondering once more if Iran is planning nuclear weapons or not the Taliban and Bin Laden keep advancing and the only thing remaining is the hope that it will not take another 9/11 to wake us up!

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Emanuel Paparella2007-12-11 12:25:27
Yeates put it succinctly:

...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity...

... That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born"

Yeats' The Second Coming

The words "Things fall apart" were first pronounced by Karl Marx to describe the bourgeois society of the times. Yeats repeats them and suggests that as Santayana pointed out, those who do not remember their history are condemned to repeat it. The last stanza is appropriate for this season.

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