Surging to Baghdad-The Blockbuster Remake
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia [Iraq] into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of informationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..We are today not far from disaster.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So wrote Colonel T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) in the London Sunday Times, August 1920.
Indeed, reviewing the historical record of British attempts to rule first Mesopotamia and then Iraq you get the feeling youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re watching an old Hollywood black and white classic that has been reshot for an American audience with digitalized sound, computer animation, and the Ã¢â‚¬Å“United StatesÃ¢â‚¬Â substituted for Ã¢â‚¬Å“England.Ã¢â‚¬Â
For instance, when British forces marched into Baghdad in 1917 they announced they had come not as Ã¢â‚¬Å“conquerorsÃ¢â‚¬Â but "liberators.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In fact, they were no more interested in liberating the local inhabitants and their lands than were any of the conquerors who had preceded them, nor the one who followed. Their major concern was bases to support their sprawling empire and oil to fuel their economy and war-making machine.
As Rear Admiral Sir Edmond Slade wrote in a report to the British admiralty in 1918, Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is evident that the Power that controls the oil lands of Persia and Mesopotamia will control the source of supply of the majority of the liquid fuel of the future.Ã¢â‚¬Â Britain must therefore Ã¢â‚¬Å“at all costs retain [its] hold on the Persian and Mesopotamian oil fields.Ã¢â‚¬Â
BritainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ruling classes spoke of a divine mandate to bring the obvious benefits of Western rule to peoples steeped in tyranny and darkness. As Arnold Wilson-- a prototype,one could argue, of Paul Bremmer in 2003Ã¢â‚¬â€who was appointed to oversee BritainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new holdings in Mesopotamia, declared in 1918. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The average [Iraqi] Arab, as opposed to the handful of amateur politicians of Baghdad, sees the future as one of fair dealing and material and moral progress under the aegis of BritainÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.The Arabs are content with our occupation.Ã¢â‚¬Â