Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in 2003; Syria’s chemical weapons today

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

I CAN’T help but be skeptical of the US-led attack on Syria, a sovereign state, allegedly undertaken to take out its chemical weapons facilities.

The CNN and even Fox News reports were a flashback to March 2003 when the US got 46 nations to join its pretentiously named Coalition of the Willing to invade Iraq, purportedly because it had stockpiled what the Americans labeled as “weapons of mass destruction.” To this day, no such WMDs, despite US forces’ occupation of Iraq for a decade, have been found.

The Philippines was among the countries in the coalition, but we weren’t really willing to join the US attack on Iraq. After all, it was not about WMDs really, but the US’ paroxysm of anger and bloodlust over al-Qaida’s “9/11” attack on New York City that killed more than 3,000 Americans. Like the Romans of ancient times, Americans of the modern era couldn’t just let that happen without massacring people they would brand as connected to the attack.

When al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden escaped the American military that invaded Afghanistan, they turned on Iraq, which it had claimed sponsored the international terrorist action—an allegation nobody believed as there was not a shred of evidence for this.


I have an uncommon interest in the US attack on Iraq since, I’m proud to say, I was one of the few—if not the only member—in President Arroyo’s Cabinet to have passionately opposed our joining the US fake coalition. Arroyo had called a meeting of her Cabinet oversight committee on internal security, of which I was a member, when the US was set to invade Iraq to get the group’s consensus on whether to join the coalition as the Americans were asking.

Our security officials were all out to support the US, especially our very pro-American national security adviser. As a journalist though, I found the US presentations in the United Nations on Saddam’s alleged WMDs very suspicious, because, among other reasons, the US satellite photos of alleged WMD sites could have been anything, even grain silos.

As a longtime student of propaganda, I found the labeling of Saddam’s weapons as WMD diabolically clever, as it conjured up images of hundreds of thousands of dead people in a killing field and many cities devastated, even as it hinted that the weapons could be not just chemical weapons but even nuclear ones.

After hours of debate that lasted past midnight, a foreign affairs official approached me during the break to tell me: “Useless to argue at this point. We need the Americans to fight the Abu Sayyaf. They won’t help us if we don’t support their invasion of Iraq. The decision has been made.”

I just went home after that.

America’s invasion of Iraq resulted in two million Iraqis fleeing their oil-producing nation and in civilian deaths of about half a million people. It destabilized the region so much, and the US crime was so grave that Muslims embraced such monstrous radicalism as the Islamic State’s version. It was the American invasion of Iraq and the latter’s resulting degeneration into a failed state that is the main reason for the Islamic State’s growth in Iraq and Syria.

Osama bin Laden accomplished his aim for his 9/11 attack on America: He got the US to invade Muslim nations so that it has become so hated in the Islamic world, their enmity towards the West would last generations.

No weapon of mass destruction was found, and the US couldn’t even dare fabricate such WMDs. The US just moved on, and the world didn’t seem to care that it was totally, utterly fooled by the Americans.

If the US could lie big over WMDs to justify its invasion of Iraq, should we just believe that it attacked Syria because Assad used chemical weapons?

I think the American invasion of Iraq is one of the world’s worst crimes ever, so horrible yet the US never apologized for their momentous mistake, or failed plot.

It is because of the US total success in 2003 in fooling the world that it invaded Iraq to make the world a safe place without WMDs that makes me skeptical about its claims that Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad has crossed the red line, and used chemical weapons against his own people.

Why would Assad use chemical weapons when his military has managed quite well, sadly, to already kill thousands of rebels using conventional weapons? To strike terror in the hearts of the rebels in their strongholds? But hasn’t regular bombings and artillery shells already done that, with the help of CNN?

The video clip of the alleged chemical-weapon attack, played and replayed by Western media, was movie quality, not the kind of video one can take using a cellphone. In such a tense and horrific situation, the camera wasn’t even jarring. And whoever the unidentified videographer was—and there was only one video, of course showing the very gory scenes of toddlers killed or dying—it was so coincidental for him to be exactly at the right place at the right time. There is absolutely no indication, no date or time stamped on the video, that it was taken recently.

The parallels of the Iraq invasion to the US missile attack against Syria are amazing.

First was the drum-up to the attack, with the persistent labeling of Assad as a “monster.” The alleged Russian attempt at assassination, using a nerve agent, of its former spy who had defected and was living in the United Kingdom was part of the scenario: chemical weapons are the weapons of choice of even Syria’s patron, Russia.

Second is a US president who is on a political downward spiral, George W. Bush in 2003 and Donald Trump 15 years later. After the attack on Syria, even the anti-Trump CNN is now hardly reporting the Russian connection allegations it had been focusing on for months. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s breakthroughs in his investigations, such as the FBI’s raid on the offices of the US president’s personal attorney, have been practically forgotten. The attack on Syria seems to be a classic wag-the-dog maneuver. Americans always rally around their flag and leader when they are at war. Trump suddenly became a decisive leader of the US of A that saved humanity.

Trump seems to have been so clumsy as to follow the Bush playbook to the letter, tweeting the other day, in reference to the attack on Syria: “Mission Accomplished.”

That was exactly Bush’s words as he got off a fighter jet that landed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Iraq, which was such a transparent, melodramatic PR move.

I suspect Trump had told his officials on the eve of the attack on Syria: What is the US a superpower for?

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao

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