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Twenty years later, what lessons have we learned from Iraq? | | Mary Dezhevsky

“We are fighting over there,” British politicians used to say, “so there is no need to fight here.”

It was a clever phrase, and what it meant was that Britain, or the West in general, was waging war against the outlaws, whether in Afghanistan or not. Iraq – To preempt another atrocity similar to 9/11.

But remember, 20 years after Britain joined the US in attacking Iraq, a conflict without a UN mandate and opposed by many EU countries, including France. Britain is a fanatical party to another war. If not right here, it’s certainly happening much closer than anyone could have imagined.

Of course, there are many differences between the Iraq War and the Iraq War. Ukraine, especially 20 years of technological progress and the new world of instant communication. There is a big difference between the types of warfare. The war in Ukraine can be seen as a classic European land war for security and territory. iraq war At least initially, they were fought mainly from the air.

It also means that good and evil are reversed. The United States and Europe are united in recognition of our moral obligation to help defend Ukraine from unilateral and illegal aggression by Russia.

Not only has the West been divided over Iraq, but the United States and Britain have failed to gain UN authority to intervene, revealing Iraq no longer has the illegal stockpiles of chemical weapons that had served as a pretext for the attack. .

The war had disastrous consequences for its intended beneficiaries, the Iraqis, and became a regime change exercise in which power is justice. It was repeated in Libya, with similarly anarchic results. It could have been repeated again in Syria if the British Parliament had not politely said no.

But there are also similarities, some of which are unpleasant, suggesting that not as much could, and should have been, learned from the devastation wrought by the Iraqi adventure.

And this despite a long and costly series of investigations into how the Iraq war happened and what went wrong: the Butler review and the Chilcott investigation. Again, many opportunities were lost to avoid recourse to arms and subsequently to curtail hostilities.

Before the attack on Iraq, there were negotiations. There were UN resolutions and there were inspections designed to find Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction. But military operations have their own inexorable logic. When you’re ready, it’s hard to stop.

The United Nations is an inappropriate means of preventing war if either party decides that the use of military force is viable or the only option for them. The same could be said of Russia before it invaded Ukraine, but the West failed to understand that its refusal and withdrawal from Russian diplomacy in the six months prior to the invasion had fatally limited Russia’s options. Sometimes.

Secondly, experts were discounted. A few months before the Iraq War, a massive and respectable effort was made to find out where and where Iraq held what it called weapons of mass destruction. Not only was nothing found, but authoritative reports that they had been destroyed were incredulous.

Not only were weapons experts disregarded, but concerns about Iraqi history and culture were ignored, along with warnings that Iraqis were unlikely to scatter flowers in the path of the United States and other aggressors.

Both Russia and the West may be at fault on the same point – Russia clearly does not understand the changes that have taken place in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and equally likely their welcome. You are misjudging your gender.

But Western policymakers also failed, and still fail, to understand the historical roots of the conflict now facing a stalemate in Ukraine, and their presence in what NATO sees as Russia. has failed to heed warnings from experts about the depth of concern in Russia. It’s extremely important for your own security.

A third lesson concerns the disproportionate impact of voice exile. The U.S. government’s view of Iraq appears to have been largely swayed by a circle of immigrant Iraqis around Ahmed Chalabi, who professed to be his country’s natural post-Saddam leader, but has been out of touch and unreliable. or his former compatriots.

In the United States and Britain, Ukrainians in exile are seen as overwhelmingly loyal to Petro Poroshenko, who was elected after Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in the 2014 Euromaidan uprising, and more pro-Russian. rice field.

Unfortunately for Ukraine, Western immigrants overwhelmingly supported Poroshenko in the 2019 elections, but they were out of harmony with their compatriots who voted for him in the landslide. Volodymyr Zelenskya former lawyer, actor and producer, had run on a platform that involved negotiating an end to the five-year conflict in Donbass with Russia.

It took more than a year for most Western leaders (with the honorable exception of France) to switch their support to Zelensky.

Those who lavishly admire Zelensky’s war leadership, after his landslide victory in the democratic elections, realize that if he had been this enthusiastic, the war might not have happened. should.

A fourth lesson may relate to the use of intelligence. It is well known how intelligence was used or abused in the United States and Britain to justify the war in Iraq, but unfortunately, the serious damage to anyone’s career and reputation that resulted. There was no

Reports have been published that intelligence operations in the same countries before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were calling in hundreds of thousands of combat-ready Russian troops almost daily, but that was presented almost as a restructuring of the intelligence services. After all, they can be argued to be right.

But was this the point of releasing this intelligence information? , omitting that Ukrainian forces were massing on their side of the border, but appears to be designed to deter Russian aggression. Warns Moscow that their intentions are known. By. But knowledge did not deter. Undoubtedly, it feared that Russia would invade Ukraine, but it was still possible.

A fifth lesson might be to consider the real interests of those you claim to represent. Among US objectives in Iraq, which Britain shared to some extent, was to liberate Iraqis from tyranny and bring about democracy. What the Iraqis experienced was destruction and anarchy.

The Kurdish minority in the country may have done well, but they still don’t have the independent homeland they so desperately want. After all, their war is a war fought for the survival of the nation, and this is also the message from their Western supporters.

But every once in a while, we get glimpses of a different agenda on the part of the US and UK that is less aimed at saving Ukraine than at destroying Russia as a great power forever.

As long as this agenda exists, is this war really being fought for the benefit of the Ukrainian people, or is it being used for the selfish ends of others, and what will be the consequences? I have my doubts.

And to the final lesson, what came to be known as “the next day.” This is the point at which the war in Iraq failed hopelessly, with insufficient military power to meet the obligations of the occupying power. Dismantling of the Iraqi army, freed armed fighters pursuing their own clan wars, and years of anarchy fueling jihadism in Syria and elsewhere.

The next day has not yet come to Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Zelensky administration has shown considerable foresight in the logistics and financing of reconstruction, wherever possible. Its size is increasing day by day. But this is only part of the future.

For example, what would be the total war dead, disabled, and migration losses? Is civil peace possible even in a country rich in firearms, whose neighbors have stood against it in formerly occupied territories?

Twenty years later, Iraq still illustrates what happens when even well-intentioned outsiders get it wrong “the next day.” I have to.

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