MORE THAN A DECADE AGO I WATCHED WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD AS AMERICAN ARMIES INVADED IRAQ. I DEFENDED THE WAR.
I WAS WRONG
It’s been a just over a decade since the United States and it’s “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq, seeking to destroy Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction and bring the al-Qaeda supporting dictator down once and for all. That was the spin used to sell the war to the American people and her allies anyway, though not everyone was convinced. The United Nations declared the invasion illegal and Canada politely declined the American request for military support (we were already pretty deep in Afghanistan by than anyway, a lengthy war that would prove more expensive in Canadian sons and daughters and blood then any since Korea). Nations like Russia, Germany, France and China were all staunchly opposed to the invasion and NATO sat quietly on the sidelines (in truth, the United States only military ally of note was Great Britain). But despite all of that, on March 20, 2003, with the 9/11 terrorist attacks still fresh and raw in the American consciousness, Iraq was invaded for a second time by an American president whose last name was Bush (nothing like keeping it in the family). The “coalition” armies swept unopposed over Iraq’s borders and didn’t even meet token resistance on their way to the capital city of Baghdad (resistance would come later though, as Iraqi insurgents would wage a brutal guerilla war against American occupiers that would stain Iraq’s deserts red with blood). And, much to my shame and regret, I supported the invasion, though for different reasons then the ones the politicians and talking heads offered. It’s disturbing the clarity a few years of hindsight can offer.
I didn’t actually buy the whole WMD thing, despite the enormous energy the Bush administration invested in trying to convince the world that Hussein was just days away from having a dirty bomb or a dozen long-range ballistic missiles carrying anthrax. My genuine concern, my genuine fear, was that he was close to getting his hands on the wealth Iraq’s oil would have provided him. Iraq’s natural oil reserves had been the centre of an epic saga since the first Gulf War in 1991 and between strict economic sanctions leveled against Iraq following it’s failed attempts to conquer neighbouring Kuwait and scandals like the “Food for Oil” program that followed, Hussein was never able to harvest the majority of his country’s oil. And there were some who thought that the black gold beneath Iraq’s sands could rival that of Saudi Arabia’s. Iraq may have been a primitive dictatorship that lacked the technical knowledge to develop their own WMDs, but with the money and power that much oil would have brought, Hussein simply could have gone to counties like Russia and China with a shopping list in hand and simply bought what he wanted.
But it wasn’t long before my reluctant support for the war faded and then disappeared altogether. It soon became apparent that Iraq was indeed about oil. And money. To the victor went the spoils of war, and in this case, the victors included the architects behind both the invasion and the lie that justified it, the lives lost were merely collateral damage standing between the profiteers and their plunder. I remember the first time I felt outright anger at the war and the wealthy suits responsible for engineering it. George Bush Jr. was giving a press conference and he was asked about the Iraqi civilians who had lost their lives as a result of the invasion. I will never forget his exact response and what followed. “I believe 30,000 Iraqi civilians have died fighting the insurgency,” he said with casual ease, (like he was sharing a recipe for Thanksgiving turkey) and followed that with a smirk and a shrug of the shoulders as if to say what are you gonna do? It’s the cost of doing business. And I also remember the exact moment when my tolerance for the insanity that was Iraq died altogether; it was when I, like a disgusted world, first saw the images from Abu Graib prison, where American soldiers were humiliating and torturing detainees while smiling and posing for pictures. The American occupation, it seemed, was little better than the brutal regime before it. But liberation was never what the U.S. was there for anyway.
Before taking the job as George Bush Jr.’s vice-president, Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, one of the biggest corporations in the world. Cheney maintained shady financial connections with Halliburton after taking office and conveniently enough, his former company was awarded reconstruction contracts in Iraq worth over 11 billion dollars by the Bush administration. Chevron Oil, a company that was named as a possible collaborator with Saddam Hussein during the years he was the subject of UN sanctions during the Food for Oil Program, has been awarded a number of Iraqi oil contracts, some of them legally vague. Once upon a time, Chevron was run by one Condoleezza Rice before she was tabbed to be Bush Jr.’s Secretary of State. And speaking of the Bush clan, Bush Sr. continues to have strong connections with an investment firm called the Carlyle Group, and in turn he’s got a lot invested in various weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, contractors that include the United States military among their chief customers. On top of being oil barons, the Bushes are also war profiteers and every time the largest military force the world has ever seen goes into battle, the Bush family, among others, gets a little fatter. These examples are merely the tip of the bloody iceberg. Essentially, Iraq was the American military-industrial complex having a frat party, with a complacent media enthusiastically in tow. And it didn’t even care who noticed.
The Iraq war was a fraud, a bill of goods sold to the American people (and the world) based on lies and deception while a handful of greedy men made a fortune off the bloodshed and carnage. Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction and it never did. All the “evidence” to support the invasion was fabricated, and while the Bush administration cowered behind the excuse that the intelligence they based their decisions on was bad, a few members of the American Intelligence community (and a handful of British ones as well) have revealed that facts were distorted and invading Iraq was the endgame all along. Bush Jr. and Cheney rarely leave the safety of American soil these days for fear of finding themselves in the Hague facing charges of war crimes (the two have been tried by some countries in absentia). Make no mistake, Saddam Hussein was an evil human being, cut from the same cloth as Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin, and I felt no pity when he was dispatched from this world at the end of a hangman’s noose. But the brutal fact remains that, with humanitarian groups putting the number of Iraqi civilians who’ve lost their lives since the American invasion at 100,000 or more, the American regime has been just as bloody, if not more so, than the former dictator’s. But as I’m sure George W. would tell you, those lives, to say nothing of the over 4500 American soldiers who sacrificed theirs and the countless others who were wounded and maimed, is simply the cost of doing business. For others like myself, it is the price of being wrong.
- WATCH: Colin Powell Calls Out Cheney For Iraq Mistake (huffingtonpost.com)
- CIA Files Show America Helped Saddam Hussein As He Gassed Iran (news.firedoglake.com)
- Obama DOJ Asks Court to Grant Immunity to George W. Bush For Iraq War (deadlinelive.info)