Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Tenth Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq

Today is the tenth anniversary of the launch of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Following are excerpts from a statement issued in response to this anniversary. It is written by representatives of numerous justice and peace organizations, including Phyllis Bennis, John Cavanagh and Steve Cobble of the Institute for Policy Studies; Medea Benjamin of Code Pink; Andy Shallal of Iraqis for Peace; Michael Eisenscher of US Labor Against the War; Judith LeBlanc and Kevin Martin of Peace Action; Laura Flanders of GRITtv; Bill Fletcher of The Black Commentator; Michael T. McPhearson and Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice; and David Wildman.

The photos that accompany this post are from my website Faces of Resistance: Images and Stories of Progressive Activism at the Turn of the Millennium (1997-2006), and specifically from Gallery 9: Responding to 9/11 and the "War on Terror". The part of this gallery that contains images and commentary relating to resistance to the Iraq invasion, begins here.

. . . The US war against Iraq was illegal and illegitimate. It violated the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and a whole host of international laws and treaties. It violated US laws and our Constitution with impunity. And it was all based on lies: about nonexistent links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, about never-were ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, about Iraq’s invisible weapons of mass destruction and about Baghdad’s supposed nuclear program, with derivative lies about uranium yellowcake from Niger and aluminum rods from China. There were lies about US troops being welcomed in the streets with sweets and flowers, and lies about thousands of jubilant Iraqis spontaneously tearing down the statue of a hated dictator.

And then there was the lie that the US could send hundreds of thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars worth of weapons across the world to wage war on the cheap. We didn’t have to raise taxes to pay the almost one trillion dollars the Iraq war has cost so far, we could go shopping instead.

But behind these myths the costs were huge – human, economic and more. More than a million US troops were deployed to Iraq; 4,483 were killed; 33,183 were wounded and more than 200,000 came home with PTSD. The number of Iraqi civilians killed is still unknown; at least 121,754 are known to have been killed directly during the US war, but hundreds of thousands more died from crippling sanctions, diseases caused by dirty water when the US destroyed the water treatment system and the inability to get medical help because of exploding violence.

. . . The US lost the Iraq War. Iraq hasn’t been “liberated.” Violence is rampant; the sectarian violence resulting from early US policies after the 2003 invasion continues to escalate. Of course we didn’t bring democracy and freedom to Iraq – that was never on the US agenda. The failure to “liberate” Iraq cannot be the basis for assessing the war.

The real assessment must be based on whether the war achieved the goals that the Bush administration and its neo-conservative, military CEO and Pentagon profiteering partners established for this war:

Consolidating permanent US control over Iraq’s oil. Nope, US oil companies are just some of the myriad of foreign oil interests in Iraq’s oil fields.

Leaving behind a pro-US, anti-Iranian government in Baghdad. Hardly, Prime Minister al-Maliki is barely on speaking terms with anyone in Washington.

Guaranteeing permanent access to US bases in Iraq. Not even close, all but two of the 500 plus US bases and outposts were either closed down or turned over to the Iraqi military.

Ensuring that a post-war Iraqi government would allow the US to use Iraq as a jumping off point to attack Iran. No way, despite continuing billions of dollars of our tax money, the Iraqi government today is allied more closely to Iran than the US.

In the buildup to the war, too many media, government officials, academics and others allowed fear to curb their tongue or their eagerness to curry favor with those in power to stifle their speech. This remains a crucial lesson as we stand up to the escalation of Obama’s drone war and continue to challenge those who call for war against Iran.

The war in Iraq began with significant support, with many people accepting the false claims that this new war would bring security to a still-frightened US public. But that support did not last long. Within the first years, pro-war assumptions had been reversed, and by the end, the anti-war movement and escalating casualties had turned around public opinion so thoroughly that overwhelming majorities admitted the war in Iraq was wrong and should never have been fought in the first place.

And this war showed us our power. It proved the possibility of globalizing opposition even before the war began. The mobilization of February 15, 2003, when the broad United for Peace and Justice coalition joined with allies around the world on the day the world said “No to War!” February 15 created what The New York Times called “the second super-power,” ready to challenge the US drive towards empire. Our movement changed history. While we were not able to prevent the invasion of Iraq a month later, that mobilization proved the illegality of the war. It demonstrated the isolation of the Bush administration, pulled governments and the United Nations into a trajectory of resistance, helped prevent war in Iran and inspired a generation of activists, including some of those who, eight years later, would create the Arab Spring in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. . . .

To read in full the statement by Phyllis Bennis, et al. on the tenth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
The Iraq Invasion, Ten Years On – Jonathan Schell (The Nation, April 1, 2013).
The US Invasion of Iraq Was a Crime and Its Perpetrators Are Murderers – Paul Savoy (Common Dreams, March 19, 2013).
Arundhati Roy on Iraq War’s 10th Anniversary: Bush May Be Gone, But "Psychosis" of U.S. Foreign Policy PrevailsDemocracy Now! (March 19, 2013).
War Without End – Kathy Kelly (Waging Nonviolence, March 19, 2013).
Iraq, 2013: The Horrors Remain the Same – Rape, Executions and Torture Abound – Dahr Jamail (AlterNet, March 19, 2013).
The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran – Tomas Young (, March 18, 2013).
Tomas Young and the End of the Body of War – Amy Goodman (, March 20, 2013).
Dumb Wars, Now and Forever – Robert Scheer (, March 19, 2013).
On the Tenth Anniversary of the US Invasion of Iraq: When WikiLeaks Exposed the 'War Logs' – Greg Mitchell (The Nation, March 19, 2013).
Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement and Epidemic of Birth Defects, CancersDemocracy Now! (March 20, 2013).
Iraq War: Make It Impossible to Inflict Such Barbarism Again – Seumas Milne (The Guardian, March 19, 2013).
How We Forgot Iraq – Jon Lee Anderson (The New Yorker, March 20, 2013).
Cheney's Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War – Angelo Young (International Business Times via Reader Supported News, March 20, 2013).
The Sad Reality of How Warmongers and Elite Media Desperately Avoid All Responsibility for Iraq Disaster – John Tirman (AlterNet, March 20, 2013).
No Forgiveness for Bush’s 'Useful Idiots,' the Liberal Hawks Who Lead Us Into War – Michael Ratner (, March 20, 2013).
Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq – Jonathan Stein and Tim Dickinson (Mother Jones, September-October 2006).

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

1 comment:

Katy Anders said...

Ten years.

Despite those frustrating and ungrammatical commas in the "assessment" section, this isn't a bad statement at all.

It's sort of beating a dead horse to point out that this was the biggest foreign policy fiasco in U.S. history, destroying our credibility around the world and basically bankrupting us domestically.

I just wish someone had been made to answer for this. We've moved on with hardly an "Oops!"