Where idiocy leads, tragedy must follow

In the hours and days following the Boston bombing, after it was revealed that the two brothers allegedly responsible were of Chechen descent, the US loony class went hyper-whacko.

In the hours and days following the Boston bombing, after it was revealed that the two brothers allegedly responsible were of Chechen descent, the US loony class went hyper-whacko. The American author and journalist Kurt Eichenwald, in a thoughtful and reasoned article in Vanity Fair, reported that some went online to rage about . . . the Czech Republic!

‘‘There were calls for the United States government to ‘nuke’ the republic – not the first time, I guess, that we would attack the wrong country in the name of fighting terrorism,’’ Eichenwald wrote.

Indeed, Chechnya was so widely mistaken for the Czech Republic by the geographically challenged that the put upon republic’s ambassador to Washington,

Petr Gandalovic, felt it necessary to advise publicly that ‘‘The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities.

The Czech Republic is a central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.’’

It is no difficult matter, of course, to flay the idiocy of boneheads who would nuke first and ask questions later and who would leap to their keyboards to choose the wrong country for the doing of it.

There is a booming international traffic in pronouncing stupefaction at the ravings of the American far right.

Much has been written and said about just about everything surrounding the Boston bombings, which on live TV tragically killed three and injured about 150.

Yet how much newsprint and TV time have been expended on another series of bombings and a vastly higher death toll that has been taking place elsewhere, in a place that you might think was the subject of one of the greatest victims of mistaken identity in recent history?

Putting aside for the moment the abominations occurring in Syria, we might reflect that Iraq – remember Iraq? – has just endured its deadliest month in five years. The United Nations mission in Iraq reported this week that 712 people were killed in Iraq during April (595 of them civilians) through acts of terrorism and violence. In Baghdad alone, 245 people died and 486 were injured during the month.

And on the very day the world was agog with the outrage in Boston, 55 people were killed by bombs in Iraq.

Is it drawing a terribly long bow to postulate that Iraq, precisely 10 years ago, was the wrong country attacked in the name of terrorism by a coalition of forces including the US, Britain and Australia?

Allowing themselves to believe wrongly that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction at the ready, the political leaders of the coalition argued when the weapons didn’t turn up that their efforts were to democratise Iraq, a process that surely would flow across the Middle East, and anyway, they had achieved regime change and eventually managed to kill the frightful Saddam Hussein. Mission accomplished, as George W. Bush so memorably put it.

Those leaders, including Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard were delusional, even though Howard, as late as last month, was still rejecting the proposition that he sent Australian troops into Iraq on the basis of a lie.

Anyway, Howard argued, the end of Saddam’s regime provided the Iraqi people with opportunities for freedom not otherwise in prospect. Tell that, you might say, to the 712 people killed by terrorism and violence in April alone, 10 years later.

Saddam Hussein, right enough, was a vicious despot to those within his nation who opposed him, but Iraq at the time was perhaps the most secular country in the Middle East, not at all disposed to allowing the terrorists of al-Qaeda within its borders and, compared with today’s chaos, relatively stable for the majority of its population.

The West’s leaders clearly hadn’t read a lesson from earlier 20th century history, or if they had, they had failed to learn from it. In 1920, T.E. Lawrence, known to the world as ‘‘Lawrence of Arabia’’, wrote a letter to the London Sunday Times expressing his disgust and dismay at Britain’s efforts to impose outside rule upon Iraq, then known as Mesopotamia.

‘‘The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour,’’ he fumed. ‘‘They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster.’’ He could, with the mere change of a couple of proper nouns, have been writing about Iraq more than 80 years later.

The major coalition nations, including Australia, had in fact pulled out of what could reasonably be argued was a legitimate fight with terrorism in Afghanistan to impose shock and awe upon Iraq. It left a vacuum in Afghanistan in which the Taliban and elements of al-Qaeda were able to regroup while Afghans opposed to the Taliban lapsed into despair and unending suspicion about their fair weather friends in the West.

Two years later, Australia followed the US and other friends back into Afghanistan to try to deal with the mess they had left behind, and which had festered. Now, all these years later, with much of that mess still unresolved and neighbouring Pakistan harbouring elements likely to ensure Afghanistan devolves into a new agony, we are preparing to pull out, mission unaccomplished.

It is too easy to poke fun at the ignorant fools on their social media keyboards who can so blithely and relatively harmlessly mistake one country for another.

Fools from much higher in the social order have proved that they can attack the wrong country, and in doing so, set a flow a stream of blood pouring ever swifter through the years.

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