Are we doing enough to prevent avoidable wars in the future? Are we learning any lessons from our past mistakes?
Is anyone held accountable for the colossal mistakes that have led to appalling human tragedies in our times?
Let’s take the Iraq War. The Chilcot report returned a clear verdict on Britain’s role in one of the most defining and unnecessary wars of our times. Tony Blair accepted that "his decision was based on inaccurate intelligence reports".
The then prime minister of a permanent UN Security Council member state agreed that he had rushed out to bomb a sovereign country based on "inaccurate intelligence report". In the same breath he said, "the world is safer today without Saddam Hussain. I would do it again if I had to."
How and why is this world tolerating such bunkum? Mr Blair, the world is safer with you out of power.
A US Navy corpsman holds an Iraqi child victim in central Iraq (2003). Photo: Reuters
It is dangerous to have a leader who is capable of making such a grave "mistake". It is disastrous to have someone in power who doesn’t want to learn from such mistakes!
John Prescott, Blair’s deputy in the cabinet, told the Sunday Mirror months back that "the war was illegal". A significant but pointless afterthought! He had been an integral part of that colossal mistake.
He really shouldn’t join the chorus after a critical report on the war. Why didn’t he resign in protest when he had found that his boss was leading the country to an "illegal" war?
He could have saved his own country over 200 invaluable lives, not to talk about the millions of Sterling pounds!
Mr Prescott said, “I will live with the decision of going to war and its catastrophic consequences for the rest of my life.”
Not sure if that subtle regret would bring any relief to the tens of thousands of Iraqis whose lives have been irreversibly shattered by his support for the misadventure.
Consider this: over half a million Iraqis dead, nearly the entire infrastructure of a well-developed country destroyed, billions of dollars wasted, the partisan and oppressive rule of one community in Baghdad replaced with a worse (since it pretends to be democratic) dispensation with only the roles reversed, a ruthless autocratic ruler replaced by a bunch of corrupt manipulative politicians, selective political violence replaced by widespread sectarian bloodshed, scores of priceless treasures lost or vandalised, security on the streets worse than ever before, unprecedented level of hunger and desperation for the have-nots of the society, and to top it all emergence of a barbaric new face of terrorism — the ISIS.
And Mr Blair says the world is a safer today!
At least the British have proven their democratic fundamentals. Though in his heyday, Blair had survived serious challenges to his decision, he is nailed down now. But, what about the self-appointed captain of democracy, the United States?
What about its former president George W Bush? The Iraq War is now termed as "the most ill-advised act of Bush presidency" — rather sophisticated and nuanced choice of words for an act that brought so much misery to millions of people.
What about Colin Powell, who as the secretary of state unleashed a barrage of shameful lies on the floor of the United Nations to convince many Americans, besides scores of fence-sitters elsewhere in the world, that Saddam Hussain was just about to destroy the world and he had to be stopped?
What about defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who along with Paul Bremer, is supposed to be responsible for systematically destroying every Iraqi institution?
They disbanded a highly-skilled army, sacked thousands of skillful citizens just because they had links with the Baath party, making all of them jobless, angry and vengeful.
Now, Powell tells us that all these happened in contravention of what was meticulously planned prior to the invasion at the presidency level.
Powell insists that President Bush knew but did not do anything to change the course of events.
Powell says he had, and shared with his boss, strong reservations on the invasion. “If you break it, you own it." Apparently he warned the president. Now he says, “We broke it, we owned it, but we didn’t take the charge”.
But, he remained the secretary of state till the next elections!
No WMDs were found in Iraq; Iraqi army did not use any chemical weapons to defend themselves; instead we had Abu Gharib, we had thousands of highly trained army personnel out on the street without a job, defeated and humiliated, thousands of orphaned young Iraqis, angry and smarting: an excellent breeding ground for future extremists!
The likes of Powell and Blair now go on the lecture circuits earning huge amounts per speech talking about their experiences, their mistakes, and preaching the world on leadership issues and strategies!
Is there any accountability? Or does such a word exist only for selective actions, selective people and selective nations?
When the fundamental premises of a war that killed half a million, displaced more than a million, destroyed a thriving country, created a new front of spiralling violence are found to be grossly wrong, and possibly manipulated, how and why is no one held accountable?
What are we doing to ensure that another ill-advised or ill-conceived collaboration of over-enthusiastic leaders to free the world of "imminent danger" does not destroy a generation of hapless people elsewhere within the same world?
Really, nothing. That is why we have Syria today. Heaven knows which country is next.