Tuesday, October 31, 2006


PATRICK COCKBURN, ALTERNET - It has been the strangest war. It had
hardly begun in 2003 when President George W. Bush announced on May 1
that it was over: the American mission had been accomplished. Months
passed before Washington and London realized that the conflict had not
finished. In fact, the war was only just beginning. Three years after
Bush had spoken the US military had suffered 20,000 dead and injured in
Iraq, 95% of the casualties inflicted after the fall of Baghdad.

Almost without thinking, the US put to the test its claim to be the only
superpower in the world. It spurned allies inside and outside Iraq; in
invading Iraq Tony Blair was Bush's only significant supporter. The
first President George Bush led a vast UN-backed coalition to complete
victory in the Gulf War in 1991 largely because he fought a conservative
war to return the Middle East to the way it was before Iraq's invasion
of Kuwait. It was a status quo with which the world was familiar, and
restoring was therefore supported internationally -- and in the Middle
East. The war launched by his son, George W. Bush, twelve years later in
2003 was a far more radical venture. It was nothing less than an attempt
to alter the balance of power in the world. The US, acting almost alone,
would seize control of a country with vast oil reserves. It would assume
quasi-colonial control over a nation which fifteen years previously had
been the greatest Arab power. Senior American officials openly
threatened to change the governments of states neighboring Iraq.


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