WHEN will the United States ever learn from history? And when will it stop fooling itself and the world at large? Its self-centred record of international strategy ever since the end of World War II has been, to say the least, dubious and destructive. In order to break up the Soviet Union it went to great lengths to perpetuate the Cold War. That, in the end, the Soviet Union collapsed was because of its own inner contradictions. Even without US meddling it would have collapsed but the US thought it would pitch in with its own efforts at great cost to itself.
In another couple of decades, may be, it will cease to be the lone Super Power. It all started with Korea which to this day remains divided. Then came Vietnam. For all its power that was freely flaunted, the US was defeated and had to run away with its tail between its legs, in the eyes of the world, humiliated. And now we hear of Iraq where Vietnam is being repeated. The United States had no business to be in Iraq in the first place. It had originally supported Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. It pleased the United States to support the man it later was to dub as a dictator, forgetting that throughout years past it had propped up dictators whether in Latin America, Africa or Asia. What has it been doing in Pakistan all these years? Popularising democracy? But when Saddam Hussein was seem to be coming in the way of US plans to safeguard its oil interests, Iraq became a dangerous enemy. Charges were levelled against Iraq of developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). It was a monstrous lie. But it served as an excuse to attack Iraq in 2003. Thereafter began a systematic plan to introduce what is best described as genocide. In the last seven years, about a million Iraqis have been killed. Some five million Iraqis have become refugees of whom 2.7 million are internally displaced. Iraq’s economy has been ruined and unemployment presently is around 40 per cent. About one among two Iraqis of employable age is unemployed. The United States itself has paid a heavy price as President Obama admitted in a televised speech. It has spent over a trillion dollars in the war in Iraq. Some 4,400 US soldiers have been killed and over 35,000 badly wounded. Obama now says that even after the withdrawal of a whopping 100,000 US troops from Iraq there still will remain in the country a “transitional force” of 50,000 to be called “Advise and Assist Brigades”.
The withdrawal of a lakh of US forces tells only half the tale. The remaining fighters will be served by warplanes and helicopters. Besides, the US will quietly support about 200,000 mercenaries who will protect western (mostly American) business and other interests. Little is known about the damage done to Iraq as a result of an estimated 1,000 tonnes of depleted uranium used in US munitions. Iraq actually had become a testing ground for newly-designed weaponry. Nobody says a word about it. And while Obama wants the world to believe that the Iraq War has ended, that is not true. America’s Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, Gen Denis R McDonough has been quoted as saying: “Does anybody believe the violence is going to stop entirely and the opponents to stability and progress in Iraq are going to stand down?” His own honest answer is a big No. Iraq is not Vietnam. It is torn between Shia and Sunni sects and their internal fight can only continue. No matter what the US will ultimately do, it will have to leave Iraq to its fate which, as of now, looks grim.
Vietnam was another matter. No Chi Minh was a leader accepted by the vast majority. It had a great sense of unity on which it could bank even under the gravest circumstances. The US had dropped more bombs on it than were dropped both by the Axis and Allied powers on each other during World War II. In Vietnam it was hell on earth. The US had dispatched over three million soldiers. By war’s end, six years later of those 58,193 soldiers were killed, more than 150,000 were wounded and at least 21,000 were permanently disabled. An estimated 125,000 Americans had fled to Canada to avoid Vietnam draft, and approximately 50,000 American servicemen had deserted. In October 1969, President Nixon had ordered a squadron of 18 B-52s loaded with nuclear weapons to the border of Soviet air space to convince the Soviets that he was capable of anything to end the Vietnam War.
The viciousness of the Americans was unbelievable. Between 1961 and 1971 the US Armed Forces used chemicals to defoliante large parts of the Vietnam countryside. Over 12 million gallons of defoliants were sprayed over South East Asia. As of 2006, over four million Vietnamese became victims of dioxin poisoning. In 1995 the Vietnamese government reported that 1.1 million of its armed forces were killed and 600,000 wounded and civilian deaths amounted to around two million! The US estimate is that some 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers had also died. Vietnam, as a whole, paid a heavy price in terms of death and destruction to remain free. And, in the end, what did the United States gain? Nothing, And what will it gain after leaving Iraq in a total mess? Nothing again. Except winning the hatred of millions of Muslims in the Middle East.
Britain foolishly supported the United States in its meaningless war against Iraq, spending about £ 9.24 billion in the process. And it is now paying for its folly. It is pathetically in trouble. And it was a “strategic partner” of the United States. It is a warning to India which the United States wants as a “strategic partner”. What strategy of the United States is India expected to be a partner of? Ever since independence it was India that was badly hit by the United States at all times. And what has Pakistan gained by being Washington’s strategic partner? It is a broken nation and is steadily going to pieces. US has used every trick of the trade to contain India in the 1950s and 1960s and to wage a covert war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. During the Bangladesh War then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger even tried to persuade China to attack India. That is the sum total of America’s love for India. It is no honour, much less paying, to be America’s partner in international affairs. If Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has not realised this, he never will. It is India which must have a strategy of its own to implement-and never the other way round.