In 2009, countries have reached perilous new levels of conflict, tension and military spending characterised by nuclear proliferation, ideological warfare and pre-emptive invasions of sovereign nations. As news reports highlight an intensifying competition over natural resources, the international community is faced with a stark choice - to share resources and cooperate, or to continue on the path to further warfare.
I'm no economist, and definitely not a Nobel Prize winning one, but by my calculations Joseph Stiglitz has under-estimated the cost of the Iraq war by a factor of 100 in his recently released 'The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict'.
Five years ago the United States attacked and occupied Iraq. It has lost militarily, politically and morally. The end of the war may be in sight. But the consequences will endure, as will the deep-seated impulse among America’s leaders for global intervention without constraint. The war has exposed the limits of American military power. The promise of a high-tech war of “shock and awe” quickly crumbled and has been all but forgotten.
NATO stands at a crossroads: the 26-member alliance is simultaneously engaged in the most difficult military mission it has ever undertaken – its first ever ground war – while also undergoing pressure to transform itself in an uncertain world. In particular, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan is being widely held up as the ultimate test of the Alliance in its post-Cold War incarnation. Success in Afghanistan, it is claimed, will also secure the future of the alliance, while failure could lead to a muted 60th anniversary next year and even an end to NATO itself.
Five years on, and still we have not learnt. With each anniversary, the steps crumble beneath our feet, the stones ever more cracked, the sand ever finer. Five years of catastrophe in Iraq and I think of Churchill, who in the end called Palestine a "hell-disaster".
Let's face it - we were conned. Iraq had no WMDs and no links to Al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein never tried to purchase uranium from Niger or steel rods for centrifuges. There was no threat - and the Bush administration and its allies knew it. They were clever, though. In the months preceding the invasion, we were drenched with drip-drip propaganda from the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.
Devastation on the ground and largely held Iraqi opinion contradicts claims by U.S. officials that the situation in Iraq has improved towards the fifth anniversary of the invasion Mar. 20. U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, during a surprise visit to Iraq on Monday declared the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq a "successful endeavour".