(Written 19 Dec 2011)

Dear All,

Now that America has officially called an end to their war in Iraq, it may be a good time to revisit the question, “What was it was all about?” http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2011-12-17/iraq-us-troops/52032854/1?csp=34news

Here is what I had written on 19 Aug 2003:

The overwhelming opinion developed around the world over the last few weeks is that the American war in Iraq is in order to secure Iraqi oil. On January 26th, a local (American) newspaper commented on a report published in Britain’s Mirror newspaper, quoting a Deutsche Bank document which recommended the purchase of Texas-based ExxonMobil shares. The reason was that “(ExxonMobil) has been tipped to get new reserves from a post-Saddam Iraq”.

While this seems a little simplistic I am reminded of an article entitled “The dark heart of the American dream” published in the Observer in June last year (2002). http://www.observer.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,738196,00.html

In the article, the writer makes the point that the Bush administration derives its political organisation almost entirely from a group of people attached to the Texas oil industry. The implication being that even if Iraqi oil is not foremost on the agenda of the Whitehouse, it is top of the agenda of an extremely powerful lobby around the US President. If this is so, then the American administration’s pretext for war against Iraq may be no different from the British pretext for the Zulu war of 1878, and the South African (Anglo-Boer) war of 1899.

In both of those cases the British used ‘moral outrage’ and a ‘threat to British citizens’ as the reason for going to war. History has shown that while the stated political reasons had some minor validity; the actual cause was the manipulation by a group of powerful industrialists and lobbyists who were advising, and in some cases running, the British government. The upshot was that the vanquished – and the British people for that matter – paid a very high price, while the instigating individuals lived well off the proceeds of South African mineral wealth.

So, almost nine years later, along with Little Peterkin* we ask, “But what good came of it at last?” And as with Old Kaspar we reply, “Why, that I cannot tell.”



*THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM  by Robert Southey (1774-1843)


T’was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun,
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found;
He came to ask what he had found,
That was so large, and smooth, and round.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And with a natural sigh,
“‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.
“I find them in the garden,
For there’s many here about;
And often when I go to plough,
The ploughshare turns them out!
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.”
“Now tell us what ’twas all about,”
Young Peterkin, he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
“Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for.”
“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for
I could not well make out;
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That ’twas a famous victory.
“My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby died;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.
“They said it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.
“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene.”
“Why, ’twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Wilhelmine.
“Nay … nay … my little girl,” quoth he,
“It was a famous victory.”
“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.”
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why, that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”