PATRICIA JACKSON FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Opening our April 14, 2018, morning papers to front page photos of ghostly black sky lit by bursting missiles takes us back to March 19, 2003 -- standing in front of televisions in shock (not awe) staring at a night sky in Iraq ablaze with exploding bombs. A month before, February 15, 2003, millions of people turned out in at least 650 cities around the world to protest the United States' push to invade Iraq. Around the globe we chanted, "Not in our name" and postponed the invasion. The Bush administration manufactured claims and justified the war based on claims of Iraq having "weapons of mass destruction." Gen. Colin Powell presented the United Nations with aerial photos of hidden stockpiles in warehouses as proof. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned us that "mushroom clouds" would soon appear in the skies. Later, these were proven to be lies.
The attack on presumed chemical weapons arsenals in Syria on April 14, 2018, preempted a scheduled inspection that day. Too similar a situation happened in 2003 in the midst of an inspection in Iraq. The Bush administration, ignoring that inspection and without agreement or consent from Congress, began the bombing war.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had been preparing to deploy a fact-finding team to Syria to arrive on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Before that inspection could occur, more than 100 missiles were launched early Saturday morning by the US and its allies France and the UK, targeting three chemical weapons sites in Syria. Though the Pentagon is "still assessing" the use of a nerve agent, officials would not elaborate on their process or evidence, but are confident in the decision to conduct airstrikes.
In April 2017, the US fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase allegedly for a Syrian chemical attack. US Defense Secretary James Mattis later said the US did not have concrete evidence that Syria was responsible.
Will OPCW be able to make an inspection and make that information public? Thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were not reported to the public.
The 2003 war on Iraq escalated instability in the entire area, creating a cauldron of terrorists, continuing proxy wars, 17 years and counting of US occupation in Afghanistan. The action taken by the leaders of the US, UK and France, though not on the scale of the invasion of Iraq, could escalate and evolve into further confrontations.
The attack, dubbed "retaliation" by the three powers, took place during the weekend. Most over-worked parents, low-income folks holding down two or more jobs, and students spend weekends catching up on chores and taking breaks. We may be unable to organize or join protests. But we need to take time to contemplate what this means for people's lives.
History cannot be forgotten or pushed from memory or replaced with tweets. Trump tweeted early Saturday morning, "Mission Accomplished!" Fifteen years later, we have gleaned the truth of the false pretenses war on Iraq, the alternatives not taken. This history must not be repeated.