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Atrocities make good excuses for warmongers

This article is over 8 years, 6 months old
Politicians have always used atrocities to justify their own bloody wars, writes Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2481

Western leaders are trying to use the Paris attacks to justify war in the Middle East again.

But the same politicians lecturing us on the need to “defeat Isis” are responsible for the destruction of Iraq and the group’s rise.

They set the region ablaze—now they’re dousing it with fuel.

Western politicians are recycling the propaganda that was pumped out when the US launched the “war on terror” after 9/11.

This supposedly pitted the “civilised” West against the “backward” Islamic world. Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan were presented as a uniquely sinister force that had to be taken out.

Muslims became the “enemy within”.

Most people have little appetite for wars. So the West has repeatedly resorted to propaganda about atrocities to justify them.

Western leaders argue that Isis is a “fascist” threat. But that’s precisely what they said about Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars.

In 1991 the US fabricated stories about Iraqi troops ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators. They lied again in 2003—this time to say that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could destroy the West in 45 minutes.

US president George Bush made sure to pay lip service to Kurdish oppression just as politicians do today.

The consequence then was one million dead Iraqis. The US built a sectarian Shia state to divide and rule the Iraqi resistance movement, which laid the ground for the rise of Isis.

The “war on terror” was never about “defeating” terrorism.

The US wanted to assert its global dominance using military force in order to compensate for its relative economic decline.


Today our rulers are desperate to fully overcome the new “Iraq syndrome” that followed their disastrous defeat.

The West was forced to change tack to regain the upper hand when a wave of revolutions swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. This toppled some Western-backed dictators and challenged US imperialism.

Their chance came when Libyan rebel forces were surrounded by dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s troops in Benghazi.

They claimed their “no fly zone” was to prevent a massacre by Gaddafi, their former ally in the war on terror.

But top generals admitted the motivation was securing Western oil interests in Libya. Now David Cameron is playing a contradictory game on refugees.

The Tories want to clamp down on them but they also use their plight to drum up support for bombing Syria.

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the Russian state are temporary allies against Isis.

But two years ago the US and Britain unsuccessfully tried to use Assad’s use of chemical weapons on civilians to push for bombing Syria.

So leaders ally themselves with whoever will safeguard their interests—regardless of the cost to ordinary Syrians.

The Paris attacks and the daily plight of people in Syria mean that some people will believe there is a need for bombing.

But overcoming the defeats in Iraq and the legacy of the mass anti-war movement won’t be easy for our rulers.

There’s potential to rebuild an anti-imperialist movement against war and Islamophobia that takes on the system that produces them.

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