January 16, 2001 marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the darkest forty-three days in recent American history.
On this day, 10 years ago, the United States and its allies, began the systematic destruction of a country whose defense spending was about one percent that of the U.S.
In the next forty-three days the guardians of the "civilized world" would kill a hundred thousand men, women, and children, wound a million more, and destroy $200 billion worth of property in the cradle of civilization.
Their cause was "just." They were after the new Hitler. Nevermind that until August 1990, this Hitler was their ally in the war with Iran. Never mind that President Saddam Hussein, by no means admired by many of his own people, was not nearly the worst of his breed.
And, of course, oil and the intractable problems at home had nothing to do with it. President George Bush proclaimed a New World Order. Or was it merely old world imperialism? Divide, conquer, plunder, and keep the natives in their place.
The invasion of Kuwait was wrong. Iraq should have settled its dispute with Kuwait peacefully. But was the nature and scale of the U.S. response (sanctioned by a United Nations bullied and bribed into submission) proportionate to the atrocities committed by Iraq?
Having stalemated the United Nations for years, the United States in its newly found zeal, led the western crusade to rid the world of Saddam Hussein.
Never mind that it was silent when Israel bombed Iraq in 1981. Never mind the twenty-three-year occupation by Israel of the West Bank. Never mind all the other atrocities which Amnesty International has reported year after year. Saddam Hussein became the monster that had to be beheaded.
The vast majority in the western world applauded, as they viewed the real life Nintendo game on their television screens. Never mind that lost in the fog of "precision" laser bombing were thousands of innocent men, women and children.
Never mind that the United Nations resolution called only for removing Iraq from Kuwait. While babies in Iraq went without milk, the armchair Rambos, ensconced before their television screens, smelled blood. They howled for going all the way to Baghdad.
They were comforted by an American president who assured them that the United States had no gripe with the Iraqi people. They were only after that new Hitler. Tell that to those Iraqi people who will live with the wounds of war for generations to come.
But a brave minority kept alive the flame of freedom and justice. For upholding the right to free speech, and protesting President Bush's relentless rush to war, they were labeled unpatriotic. This minority did not forget the principles of the founding fathers, and the siren song of freedom that brought their forefathers past the Statue of Liberty.
This minority realized the horrors being committed, and may yet awaken America's conscience, so that freedom and justice for all are the principles which guide us in our dealings with nations and people everywhere.
So while some may recall the euphoria of an unprecedented victory, let us not forget the holocaust in Iraq, and the continuing sanctions which kill about 5000 every month.
Enver Masud is an engineering management consultant, and founder of The Wisdom Fund--http://www.twf.org. Copyright 2001 The Wisdom Fund - All Rights Reserved.