Proper respect and tribute must be given to the recently deceased American military statesman Colin Powell, writes Irfan Yusuf.
Recently the world learned of the sad death of General Colin Powell, a great American military hero.
Powell was responsible for so many great things in international affairs, spreading freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East and beyond. It is only fitting that I pay tribute to him.
The first thing that needs to be said is that Powell was black. He was African American. He lived in an era of segregation. What an awful era to live in. Who knows what suffering his ancestors may have experienced at the hands of white slave owners in the Land of the Free.
A huge proportion of slaves were from Islamic backgrounds. Alex Hailey’s ancestor in his family history Roots was Kunta Kuntey, a Muslim. Perhaps Powell’s ancestors were also Muslim. I don’t know and nor do I care. But the possibility makes for some interesting ponderances.
The city of Baghdad was one of the greatest cities of classical Islam. It is one of the oldest cities on earth. Located in Iraq, the city was a place of art, culture, music and commerce.
Baghdad was destroyed by my ancestors, the Mongols, in 1258 AD. The Mongols pillaged and murdered and raped their way across Asia, destroying all in their path. Among the places they destroyed was the famous Baghdad library. They slaughtered over 200,000 people in just the capital. God-knows how many people were slaughtered in other parts of the Empire contained within the borders of modern Iraq.
Perhaps comparing Colin Powell to Hulegu, grandson of Genghis Khan and the man responsible for the near-genocide in Iraq, may seem a bit harsh. But consider what Powell did to this country over the years.
He oversaw the 1990/91 invasion of Iraq and not just the removal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait. That invasion involved SMASHING to pieces an army which the United States and its European allies had built up to help Iraq fight its neighbour Iran for many years. Some 200,000 Iraqi civilians and 30,000 soldiers were killed. This included soldiers retreating.
Powell’s war was followed up with a comprehensive set of severe sanctions that punished ordinary Iraqi civilians instead of the Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein and his family. The sanctions continued from 1991 to 2003, and killed over a million Iraqis including children denied basic nutritional and medical needs.
Then in 2003, Powell decided he wanted to convince the world that more Iraqis needed to die. He addressed the United Nations and tried to convince them using dubious evidence (i.e. lies) that the nasty Iraqi dictator was somehow linked to the 9/11 bombing.
Apparently Saddam Hussein, who had mercilessly persecuted anyone even remotely thinking the same way as Al-Qaeda, was suddenly in bed with them. It was so obviously ridiculous a proposition that only leaders like Tony Blair and our very own John Howard supported it.
The second Iraq war started and American and British and Australian and other troops were involved. Once Saddam Hussein was kicked out and hung, it was time for al-Qaeda to start their nasty suicide bombing and jaundiced jihad.
Powell’s war also helped bring in the Islamic State of Syria & Levant (ISIL) that in many ways made al-Qaeda look as effective as the WA Liberal Party. (Actually, that is most unfair to al-Qaeda who I am sure could pick up more than 2 seats in a state election.)
Anyway, apart from ISIL and al-Qaeda, the results of Powell’s war was to ensure the nutty theocrats in neighbouring Iran became more powerful. It must have been fun and games for our diggers to find themselves fighting on the same side as mullahs.
This war saw hundreds of thousands of civilians – Shia, Sunni, Yazidi, Chaldean etc – massacred. Yazidi women and girls were taken as sex slaves. Sunni and Shia folk who once intermarried were now at each other’s throats. Thousands of Iraqis became refugees in Australia. Of course, we showed our humanity toward these folk by locking them up in desert camps or offshore islands. But enough about Scott Morrison’s career. Let’s get back to Colin Powell.
The death toll in the second Iraq war was at least half a million. At least 10,000 Yazidis were murdered or kidnapped in a genocidal massacre. The insurgency and civil war of 2003-11 saw 4 million people in Iraq displaced and perhaps 250,000 dead.
Powell’s escapades have left Iraq as a shell of its former self.
Of course we all know that under International Law, it’s arguable that the second Iraq invasion was a war crime. Which I guess makes the late Mr Powell a war criminal. And that’s even before we get to his largely forgotten role in helping cover up the Mai Lai Massacre in 1968 during the Vietnam War. Which makes this tribute of sorts to Mr Powell appropriate for a true crime publication.
Having caused or triggered so much misery in Iraq that led to mass rapes, terrorism, sectarian violence, genocide, systematic rape and much much more, I hope Colin Powell can rest in peace.