{ Mesopotamian Madness } ~ Redux

War in Iraq.  Again.

This troubled region was a protectorate under British rule and the British were not above use of chemical weapons to maintain 'order' among the various sectarian tribes.  The Baathist party was the secular answer to all this, and Saddam Hussein assumed power within this compromised solution. Saddam was 'our man' in the Middle East who was armed by the Western powers, particularly the US, when he clashed with the Ayatollahs of Iran during the 1980s.

What followed is a clash of narratives: Kuwaitis were slant -drilling into neighbouring Iraqi oil fields or Saddam was a grasping tyrant for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait? America, under Bush the Elder, promptly declared war to put Saddam back in his borders.  Bush the Elder spent the necessary time and energy to cultivate an alliance of many nations in his prosecution of the war.  Not so his son, Dubya.  With ambiguous ties to Weapons of Mass Destruction, Bush invaded Iraq and promptly preened in front of the cameras under the banner "Mission Accomplished." Wishful thinking.

As in so many instances, starting a war is easier than controlling the war and the resulting forces that are unleashed.  Like Europe almost one hundred years ago,  a war to 'end all wars' only made the region worse. Massive dislocation, massive unrest and the resulting power vacuum bore extremists like ISIS/ISIL.  Now, we are back in the region again trying to tame a monster of our own making.

A cartoon during the run-up to the Iraq War in 1991.  At the time, American GI's, reflecting their public, were bullish about their chances and were eager to commence.  The cartoon shows the results of that misplaced eagerness and the tragic consequences.

Dip pen nibs, ink, spatter on Strathmore paper.  It's jumping straight in - trying to capture the intensity of the creative moment - little or no pencil under-drawing and making each stroke count. I'm influenced by the great German Expressionists Otto Dix and pacifist Kaethe Kollowitz whose anti-war art showed courage to question the 'patriots' in their midst and subsequent British caricaturists who championed both - Ronald Searle and Ralph Steadman.


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