Ten Years After U.S. Invasion of Iraq: A War Based on Lies… And a History of Brutal Intervention

April 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us



The U.S. War Was NOT an “Intelligence Failure”

Ten years ago, on March 19-20, 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime, and then occupied the country for the next eight and a half years. What did the U.S. war and invasion and the following war and occupation mean for the people of Iraq? Just to mention a few of the horrors: Over 121,000 Iraqis were killed between March 2003 and December 31, 2011 when U.S. forces withdrew; overall Iraqi deaths as a direct or indirect result of the war are estimated to be as high as 1.4 million; 4.5 million Iraqis were driven from their homes. (See “The U.S. Legacy 10 Years After Invading Iraq: Death, Disease, Devastation, Displacement,” Revolution, March 31, 2013, online at revcom.us)

Child victim of malnutrition in Iraq

Dehydrated and malnourished, seven-month-old Sahra is comforted by her grandmother in Baghdad, 1998. At that time, 30 percent of Iraq's children under five were malnourished because of the shortage of food and medicine as a result of the UN sanctions. At least 500,000 Iraqi children and perhaps as many as 1.7 million Iraqis overall died because of UN sanctions and the U.S. destruction of the water, power and electrical systems in the 1991 air bombardments. Photo: AP

George W. Bush said the U.S. invaded “to disarm Iraq” and “to defend the world from grave danger.” He claimed that Saddam Hussein’s regime:

  • had “biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax”
  • had “materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin”
  • had “materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent”
  • had “30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents”
  • had “mobile biological weapons labs ... designed to produce germ warfare agents”
  • “recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”
  • “aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda” (responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to the U.S.)

Were President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney the only prominent U.S. political leaders making these claims? No. The claims were repeated by the entire Bush administration, by nearly every member of Congress—Democrats and Republicans—by former government officials, by establishment “experts,” and by the media.

How many of these claims against Saddam Hussein were true? Not one.

How many weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)—chemical, biological, or nuclear—were found when the U.S. scoured Iraq after the 2003 invasion? None.

Was a connection between Hussein and Al Qaeda ever established?  No, there was none.

Was there an “intelligence failure,” as the U.S. government claimed after failing to find any WMDs? No.

  • The U.S. had good intelligence that Iraq had no WMDs. They’d forced Iraq to dismantle its WMD programs in the 1990s. UN inspectors went to Iraq before the 2003 invasion and found no WMDs.  Before the war, top Iraqi officials confirmed to the U.S. and Britain that Iraq had no WMDs.
  • Before the war, U.S. and British officials discussed in secret the need to invade Iraq and overthrow the Hussein regime whether or not Iraq had WMDs. Very shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq in order to strengthen U.S. imperialism’s grip on the Middle East and Central Asia and began a campaign of propaganda and lies to justify war.
  • The U.S. ruling class overwhelmingly supported the invasion. On September 11, 2002, during the run-up to the war, former President Bill Clinton said: “[Saddam] is a threat. He’s a murderer and a thug. There’s no doubt we can do this. We’re stronger; he’s weaker. You’re looking at a couple weeks of bombing and then I’d be astonished if this campaign took more than a week. Astonished.”
  • The U.S. rulers had been working to overthrow the Hussein regime since the early 1990s.

Does History Support U.S. Claims of Being a “Liberator”?

President George W. Bush said the U.S. went to war to liberate Iraq and “free its people.” This March 19, President Barack Obama issued a statement saluting the U.S. military for their service and giving “the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future...” Even a brief outline of the history of U.S. involvement in Iraq puts the lie to the claim that the U.S. was—and is—acting in the interests of the Iraqi people:

  • 1958—The U.S. opposed popular revolution against the oppressive, colonial monarchy set up by the British in the 1920s.
  • 1963—CIA aided the rise to power of the Ba’ath Party, and ultimately Saddam Hussein, by supplying lists of thousands of Iraqi Communist Party members to execute. “We came to power on an American train,” one Ba’ath Party leader admitted.
  • 1972-1975—The U.S. and its client, the Shah of Iran, armed, funded and encouraged Iraq’s Kurds (an oppressed nationality within Iraq) to rise against the Saddam Hussein regime. When Saddam agreed to U.S. demands, the CIA abandoned the Kurds as Hussein attacked. Thousands of Kurds were killed, and between 150,000 and 300,000 were forced to flee to Iran.
  • 1980-1988—After the1979 revolution toppled the Shah of Iran, the U.S. sought ways to undermine and contain the new Islamic Republic and maintain its Middle East dominance. One was supporting Iraq’s attack on Iran, and then arming both Iran and Iraq and prolonging the war so both were weakened and neither won. An estimated 262,000 to 367,000 Iranians and 105,000 Iraqis were killed, and casualties totaled an estimated 700,000 on both sides during the eight-year war.
  • 1988—The Reagan administration refused to sanction the Hussein regime after its March 16, 1988 attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja with mustard gas, cyanide, and nerve gas that killed 5,000. Instead, the U.S. continued building ties with Hussein and argued that there should be “no radical policy change now regarding Iraq.”
  • January 16, 1991—The U.S. Air Force began a massive, 43-day bombing campaign on Iraq in “Operation Desert Storm.” 88,500 tons of bombs were dropped, the equivalent of six Hiroshimas. Over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed during the war and 300,000 wounded. A U.S. Census Bureau demographer estimated that 158,000 Iraqis—86,194 men, 39,612 women, and 32,195 children—died as a direct or indirect result of the war and its immediate aftermath.
  • 1990-2003—U.S.-UN sanctions coupled with the U.S. destruction of Iraq’s water, power, and electrical systems were responsible for the deaths of at least 500,000 Iraqi children and perhaps as many as 1.7 million Iraqis overall. In 1996, Madeline Albright, then U.S. President Bill Clinton’s UN Ambassador (and soon-to-be Secretary of State), appeared on the TV program 60 Minutes and was asked whether the deaths of half a million children was worth it. Her answer: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”
  • March 2003—These sanctions led up to the launch of the second U.S. war on Iraq—a war based completely on lies that has devastated the lives of tens of millions in Iraq.

For background, details, and documentation, see revcom.us and Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda by Larry Everest.

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.