March 21 Was 17th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

Jagjit Singh
Wednesday March 25, 2020 - 05:22:00 PM

While the world is trying to cope with the terrifying coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration will be marking the 17th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, one of the most appalling blunders in the history of U.S. foreign policy.

Contrary to President Trump’s election promise to extricate us from foreign wars, America is ramping up its efforts to send in more troops in response to an alleged attack by Iranian militias on a U.S. base near Bagdad ignoring the will of the Iraqi people who voted unanimously to demand the U.S. leave. This also echoes the sentiment of most Americans.

It is incomprehensible that so many nations supported the U.S. which has a long history of waging wars based on faulty intelligence or outright lies. Perhaps, it was access to cheap oil that explains this madness. To recap the sordid details. Seventeen years ago, the U.S. armed forces attacked and invaded Iraq based on faulty intelligence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Israel swiftly stood in solidarity with the invasion, down to the last U.S. soldier. Iraq’s destruction was swift and menacing with 460,000 U.S. troops, 46,000 UK troops, 2,000 from Australia and a few hundred from other European countries. Former President Bush and Vice President Cheney who used their wealth and powerful family connections to escape the Vietnam war gave the order to launch the “shock and awe” invasion, demonstrating the “awesome destructive power” of the US military.  

The political and military blunders of the Vietnam war were long forgotten. The aerial bombardment unleashed 29,200 bombs and missiles in the first five weeks of the war. The attack was a complete violation of international law and opposed by 30 million people in 60 countries. 

American historian and speechwriter for President John Kennedy, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, compared the invasion to the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. 

Medea Benjamin, Medea Benjamin cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace and Nicolas J. S. Davies, an independent journalist chronicle the impact of the invasion: 

1. Millions of Iraqis killed and wounded and its priceless art stolen or destroyed. Reporters were intimidated or silenced by insisting they be imbedded with U.S. troops. 

2. Outraged members of Hussein’s elite guard who were fired by the Coalition Provisional Authority coalesced to form ISIS. 

3. More than 18,000 bombs were launched on Iraqi and Syrian cities reducing Mosul and many other cities to rubble. 

4. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated 2 million Iraqis have been disabled, many fleeing to Syria and Jordan. 

5. U.S. artillery bombardment continued after the war targeting the Islamic State displacing a further 6 million Iraqi’s according to UNHCR. A generation of impoverished internally-displaced children face a bleak future of demolished homes, no education - an appalling legacy of the US led invasion. 

6. Thousands of Coalition troops have been killed and wounded More than 20 U.S. veterans kill themselves every day especially those with combat exposure, unable to cope with the horrors of war. 

7. Trillions of dollars squandered. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University’s Linda Bilmes estimated the cost of the Iraq war at more than $3 trillion, “based on conservative assumptions,” The UK government spent at least 9 billion pounds. Former Prime Mister, Tony Blair, lampooned as “Bush’s poodle”, escaped censure and still travels freely as a high-priced” consultant. 

8. A dysfunctional and corrupt Iraqi Government has been unleashed on the Iraqi people. Most of the $80 billion a year in oil exports never trickles down to the impoverished people but lines the pockets of those in power. 

The invasion was a complete violation of the United Nations Charter, the foundation of peace and international law. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general at the time, said the invasion was illegal and would lead to a breakdown in international order, and that is precisely what has happened. When the U.S. trampled the UN Charter, others were bound to follow. Today we are watching Turkey, and Russia, attacking and invading Syria using the people of Syria as pawns in their political games. Israel continues to wage war on Iran, killing and maiming defenseless Palestinians with impunity. 

Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated many of the Bush-Cheney lies justifying the invasion in his shameful performance at the UN Security Council in February 2003. He later admitted that this was the low point of his tenure as Secretary of State. 

Most of the US, European media and the U.S. Congress supported the invasion, a sad testimony how they can be so easily manipulated into voting for a catastrophic war by such a web of lies? 

9. Impunity for War Crimes Most Americans are under the false assumption that the president can wage war, assassinate foreign leaders and terrorism suspects as he pleases, with no accountability whatsoever. President Obama’s failure to hold the former President Bush and members of his administration accountable for war crimes sent a dangerous message that such conduct was acceptable in US foreign policy. Mass killing by drones has now become all too common. Lack of accountability makes it easier for such crimes to be repeated. The U.S. Congress has largely been bypassed and rendered impotent, relinquishing its war powers responsibility to the executive branch. Abrogation of the 2015 Iran nuclear treaty is a recent example of appalling US arrogance.  

10. Destruction of the Environment Use of explosives with depleted uranium has caused a major escalation in cancer victims and congenital birth defects. This is a stark reminder of the use of Agent Orange, napalm and white phosphorus cluster bombs causing multi-generational birth defects in Vietnam. Unexploded ordinance continues to maim young children. More than 85,000 U.S. Iraqi veterans were diagnosed with multiple health problems including cancer and severe depression leading many to end their lives The London Guardian reports that many parts of Iraq may never recover from the environmental devastation. 

11. The U.S.’s sectarian “Divide and Rule” Policy in Iraq spawned appalling violence between Sunnis and Shias. In secular 20th-century Iraq, the Sunni minority ruled over the Shia majority, but lived in relative harmony side-by-side in mixed neighborhoods and even intermarried. After the invasion, the U.S. empowered a new Shiite ruling class led by former exiles allied with the U.S. and Iran, as well as the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region in the north. Upending the balance of power led to waves of horrific ethnic cleansing and the resurgence of Al Qaeda and emergence of ISIS.