Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Politics versus Ethics - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

When the world was surprised by showing pictures at the American Congress of the virtual Syrian site that was shelled by Israel almost a year ago, the question that was reiterated by most media specialists is “why now?” No one remembered, then, the timing of renewing American sanctions against Syria.

But anyone who reads Bush’s executive order and his letter to congress will discover how the presentation of these fabricated photos came handy for him. Bush says “I took these actions to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions of the Government of Syria” adding to his hyperbolic accusations accusing Syria of possessing “weapons of mass destruction and missile programs including the recent revelation of illicit nuclear cooperation with North Korea”.

If you miss the name of the country, Syria, you would think that Bush is speaking about an economic and political giant in the Middle East. One wonders how could the acts of the Syrian government be a threat to the national security and economic well-being of the United States of America.

This reminds us of the claims of Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, then, about the WMD in Iraq which had proved to be utterly baseless, but nonetheless which justified a crazy war that destroyed a country and its people for a hundred years to come. What we are faced with is a mighty military power that circulates misleading information in order to launch wars and torture people without being brought to task by anyone.

If anyone thinks that there is any kind of exaggeration in what is stated above one only has to read the memories of the Americans themselves such as Ricardo Sanchez who was the Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq in 2003-2004, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story, an account of his life and service in Iraq. Sanchez related in his memoir how did Rumsfeld lie pretending that he was not aware of key issues in redeployment of American forces in Iraq. In his memoirs Donald Rumsfeld stated that one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the war was ordering the major redeployment of forces and allowing the departure of the CENTCOM and CFLCC Staffs in May?

June 2003. Sanchez said I stopped reading after I read Rumsfeld’s statements that he did not know about the orders nor did he know that Sanchez was in Iraq. Sanchez adds that “all of the senior leadership in the Pentagon knew what was happening…” and he wondered “how in the world Rumsfeld could have expected me to believe him”. Sanchez says: “When I was on the ground in Iraq and saw what was going on, I assumed they had done zero phase VI planning.

Now, three years later, I was learning for the first time that my assumption was not completely accurate”. He further explains that there was a twelve to eighteen months of phase IV activity with active troops deployment. But then CENTCOM had completely walked away by simply stating that war was over and phase IV was not their job. Sanchez concludes “that decision set up the United States for a failed first year in Iraq”. Perhaps this decision is at the root cause of the U.S. failure in Iraq and the destruction of the country. According to Sanchez: “This action by the Bush administration amounts to gross in competence and dereliction of duty”.

If this is what the Commander of American forces in Iraq says what could the Iraqi people who faced the bloodiest times in their history say? The bigger question is where is the democracy that Bush talks about? And how far could a government go in distorting facts and circulating lies in order to justify its wars and aggression? Historians may decide to describe the first decade of the twenty first century as the decade that witnessed “the ethical collapse of the American military empire.”

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

More Posts