Iraq War

2003–2011 war after an American-led invasion
(Redirected from Occupation of Iraq)

The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict that began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. The conflict continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government.

Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in “mission creep,” and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. ~ George H. W. Bush
The UN's Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix... found no evidence of nuclear weapons in Iraq. Every scrap of evidence produced by the US and British governments was found to be false. ~Arundhati Roy
As a preemptive action today, however well-justified, may come back with unwelcome consequences in the future.... I don't care how precise your bombs and your weapons are when you set them off, innocent people will die. ~ Bill Clinton
We keep fighting this war in Iraq, a war that should've never been authorized and should've never been waged, a war that costing us 20 cents - $275 million a day, that could have been invested in rebuilding communities all across this country, then it's time to take that bullet out! ~ Barack Obama
They destroyed bridges, they destroyed churches, mosques, colleges, buildings, plants. They destroyed places, houses, palaces. They killed people, and elderly, but they did not push Iraq back into the pre-industrial age. ~ Saddam Hussein
The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it, and are now in the process of selling it. ~Arundhati Roy
Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leadership involved in... this war? They have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court martialed. ~Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez
We should've never been in Iraq, we've destabilized the Middle East. ~ Donald Trump
On April 9, 2003, television networks across the globe cut to a live scene unfolding in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. A motley hybrid of what appeared to be ordinary Iraqis and uniformed U.S. troops — who had begun to occupy Baghdad — pulled down a massive statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a brilliant, semi-staged propaganda exercise meant to reinforce the neoconservative promise that ordinary Iraqis would be exuberant over the fall of the regime and welcome the U.S. troops as liberators. ... There was a massive banner with that message created just for that moment. In reality, this particular war was just beginning and it continues on to this day. ~ Jeremy Scahill
What is missing is what an American war on Iraq will do to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of ordinary human beings who are not concerned with geopolitics and military strategy, and who just want their children to live, to grow up. They are not concerned with “national security” but with personal security, with food and shelter and medical care and peace. I am speaking of those Iraqis and those Americans who will, with absolute certainty, die in such a war, or lose arms or legs, or be blinded. Or they will be stricken with some strange and agonizing sickness, which will lead to their bringing deformed children into the world. ~ Howard Zinn

Quotes edit

  • Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in “mission creep,” and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable “exit strategy” we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post–Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different—and perhaps barren—outcome.
  • As a preemptive action today, however well-justified, may come back with unwelcome consequences in the future.... I don't care how precise your bombs and your weapons are when you set them off, innocent people will die.
  • Anyone who has ever studied the history of American diplomacy, especially military diplomacy, knows that you might start in a war with certain things on your mind as a purpose of what you are doing, but in the end, you found yourself fighting for entirely different things that you had never thought of before … In other words, war has a momentum of its own and it carries you away from all thoughtful intentions when you get into it. Today, if we went into Iraq, like the president would like us to do, you know where you begin. You never know where you are going to end.
    • George F. Kennan, As quoted in "George Kennan Speaks Out About Iraq" at History News Network (26 September 2002)
  • They destroyed bridges, they destroyed churches, mosques, colleges, buildings, plants. They destroyed places, houses, palaces. They killed people, and elderly, but they did not push Iraq back into the pre-industrial age.
  • In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today. What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring? "Democracy," the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. "Whiskey. And sexy!"
  • We keep fighting this war in Iraq, a war that should've never been authorized and should've never been waged, a war that costing us 20 cents - $275 million a day, that could have been invested in rebuilding communities all across this country, then it's time to take that bullet out!
 
There is really no effective international law, at all. This is merely "gangster law" ~ Eric Zuesse
  • The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ring leader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq—thus showing finally that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice Presidents Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link.
    • Ron Suskind, The Way of the World; p. 371 [about Bush] <date?>
  • They're not going to like this downtown.
    • Then-CIA director George Tenet, upon learning in early 2003 that, in secret meetings between British intelligence and Saddam's intelligence chief, Tahir
  • Jalil Habbush, Habbush claimed Iraq had no WMD; Ron Suskind, The Way of the World
    • "Downtown" refers to the White House. [about Bush] <date?>
  • To a certain extent Saddam Hussein's departure was a positive thing. But it also provoked reactions, such as the mobilization in a number of countries, of men and women of Islam, which has made the world more dangerous.
  • If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what America is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending to the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms."
  • Uppermost on everybody’s mind of course, particularly here in America, is the horror of what has come to be known as 9/11. Nearly three thousand civilians lost their lives in that lethal terrorist strike. The grief is still deep. The rage still sharp. The tears have not dried. And a strange, deadly war is raging around the world. Yet, each person who has lost a loved one surely knows secretly, deeply, that no war, no act of revenge, no daisy-cutters dropped on someone else’s loved ones or someone else’s children, will blunt the edges of their pain or bring their own loved ones back. War cannot avenge those who have died. War is only a brutal desecration of their memory.
  • To fuel yet another war – this time against Iraq – by cynically manipulating people’s grief, by packaging it for TV specials sponsored by corporations selling detergent and running shoes, is to cheapen and devalue grief, to drain it of meaning. What we are seeing now is a vulgar display of the business of grief, the commerce of grief, the pillaging of even the most private human feelings for political purpose. It is a terrible, violent thing for a State to do to its people.
  • On November 8, 2002...National Public Radio’s All Things Considered aired a story by longtime correspondent Tom Gjelten. “A war against Iraq would begin with a bombing campaign, and the resources for that phase of action are largely in place already,” he reported. The tone was reassuring: “Defense officials are confident the U.N. Timeline will not get in their way. For one thing, they’re going ahead in the meantime with war preparations. Says one senior military officer, ‘When the order does come, we have to be ready to rock ’n’ roll.’” It was a notable phrase for a highranking officer at the Pentagon to use with reference to activities that were sure to kill large numbers of people. The comment did not meet with any critical response; none of the news report’s several hundred words offered a perspective contrary to the numbing language that distanced listeners from the human catastrophes of actual war. Such reporting is safe. Chances are slim that it will rankle government sources, news executives, network owners, advertisers or—in the case of “public broadcasting”—large underwriters. While NPR seems more and more to stand for “National Pentagon Radio,” objections from listeners have apparently mattered little to those in charge.
  • The option of war can appear initially to be the most rapid. But let us not forget that after winning the war, peace must be built.
  • When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united society. Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of man.

2003 edit

  • Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction.
    • George W. Bush, George W. Bush's Third State of the Union Address, January 2003
  • I found the war [in Iraq] to be totally unnecessary, and I said so before we got into it.
    • 2003 interview in Conversations with Octavia Butler edited by Conseula Francis (2009)
  • You have not only Fox, but MSNBC and NBC-yes, owned by General Electric, one of the major nuclear weapons manufacturers in the world. MSNBC and NBC, as well as FOX, titling their coverage taking the name of what the Pentagon calls the invasion of Iraq: 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'...They research the most effective propagandistic name to call their operation. But for the media to name their coverage what the Pentagon calls it-everyday seeing 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'-you have to ask: if this were state media, how would it be any different?"
    • Amy Goodman "Independent Media in a Time of War" (2003).
  • We do not pursuit any weapons of mass destruction.
  • We want to say to America: Is it worth it to you? Won't you have have, afterward, decades of hostility in the Islamic world?
  • In all the solemn statements by self-important politicians and newspaper columnists about a coming war against Iraq, and even in the troubled comments by some who are opposed to the war, there is something missing. The talk is about strategy and tactics and geopolitics, and personalities. It is about air war and ground war, about alliances and weapons of mass destruction, and arms inspections, about oil and natural gas, about nation-building and “regime change.”
    What is missing is what an American war on Iraq will do to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of ordinary human beings who are not concerned with geopolitics and military strategy, and who just want their children to live, to grow up. They are not concerned with “national security” but with personal security, with food and shelter and medical care and peace.
    I am speaking of those Iraqis and those Americans who will, with absolute certainty, die in such a war, or lose arms or legs, or be blinded. Or they will be stricken with some strange and agonizing sickness, which will lead to their bringing deformed children into the world (as happened to families in Vietnam, in Iraq, and also in the United States).
  • Only rarely has the human story, with names and images, come through as more than a one-day flash of truth, as one day when I read of a ten-year-old boy, named Noor Mohammed, lying on a hospital bed on the Pakistani border, his eyes gone, his hands blown off, a victim of American bombs.
    Surely, we must discuss the political issues. We note that an attack on Iraq would be a flagrant violation of international law. We note that the mere possession of dangerous weapons is not grounds for war—otherwise we would have to make war on dozens of countries. We point out that the country that possesses by far the most “weapons of mass destruction” is our country, which has used them more often and with more deadly results than any other nation on earth. We can point to our national history of expansion and aggression. We have powerful evidence of deception and hypocrisy at the highest levels of our government.
    But, as we contemplate an American attack on Iraq, should we not go beyond the agendas of the politicians and the experts? (John LeCarré has one of his characters say: “I despise experts more than anyone on earth.”) Should we not ask everyone to stop the high-blown talk for a moment and imagine what war will do to human beings whose faces will not be known to us, whose names will not appear except on some future war memorial?
  • It is our challenge and responsibility to sort through the propaganda of selective facts, distortions, and images in search of truth. When a country goes on a war track, stepping out of line is always hazardous. All kinds of specious accusations fly. Whether you travel to Baghdad or hold an anti-war sign on Main Street back home, some people will accuse you of serving the propaganda interests of the foreign foe. But the only way to prevent your actions from being misconstrued is to do nothing. The only way to avoid the danger of having your words distorted is to keep your mouth shut. In the functional category of “use it or lose it,” the First Amendment remains just a partially realized promise. To the extent that it can be fulfilled, democracy becomes actual rather than theoretical. But that requires a multiplicity of voices. And when war demands our silence, the imperative of dissent becomes paramount. We need to hear factual information and not let it be drowned out by the drumbeat of war. We need to think as clearly as possible. And we need to listen to our own hearts. When his visit to Iraq began, Sean Penn expressed the desire “to find my own voice on matters of conscience.” In the near future, each of us will have that opportunity.
  • But tarring the Blix-led inspection mission ranked as a high priority for war enthusiasts on the Bush team who were eager to pressure Blix into becoming more confrontational with the Iraqi government and perhaps to lay groundwork for discounting his future reports to the Security Council. Key rightwing media voices were warbling from the same songbook. “We hope that as the days unfold Mr. Blix understands that his own credibility is as much on the line as Saddam Hussein’s,” the Wall Street Journal editorialized on November 22, adding darkly that “Mr. Blix has his own track record in Iraq, and it doesn’t inspire confidence that he will go to the mat to disarm the dictator. The question now is whether the seventy-four-year-old Swedish diplomat is going to let Saddam make a fool of him and the U.N. one more time.” The Journal’s editorial page, often the source of opening salvos that quickly resound in the national media echo chamber, was just getting started. Two editions later, a long top-of-thepage attack appeared under the headline “Hans the Timid.” As if to be graphic about Blix’s dubious character, the drawing that accompanied the op-ed article showed him wearing a tie with a peace sign on it
  • Many of your actions to date and those proposed seem to violate every defining principle of this country over which you preside; intolerance of debate (“with us or against us”), marginalization of your critics, the promoting of fear through unsubstantiated rhetoric, manipulation of a quick comfort media, and the position of your administration’s deconstruction of civil liberties all contradict the very core of the patriotism you claim. You lead, it seems, through a bloodlined sense of entitlement. Take a close look at your most vehement media supporters. See the fear in their eyes as their loud voices of support ring out with that historically disastrous undercurrent of rage and panic masked as “straight tough talk.” How far have we come from understanding what it is to kill one man, one woman, or one child, much less the “collateral damage” of many hundreds of thousands. Your use of the words “this is a new kind of war” is often accompanied by an odd smile. It concerns me that what you are asking of us is to abandon all previous lessons of history in favor of following you blindly into the future. It worries me because with all your best intentions, an enormous economic surplus has been squandered. Your administration has virtually dismissed the most fundamental environmental concerns and therefore, by implication, one gets the message that, as you seem to be willing to sacrifice the children of the world, would you also be willing to sacrifice ours.
  • Why don't they ask [Saddam's intelligence chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush] to give us something we can use to help us make our case [to link 9/11 and Saddam]?
    • George W. Bush, from Ron Suskind, The Way of the World, p. 364, on Bush's frustration at the results of secret meetings between British intelligence and Saddam's intelligence chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush [by Bush, 2003]
  • It's an intelligence document written by the then head of Iraqi intelligence, Habbush to Saddam. It's dated the 1st of July, 2001. And it‘s basically a memo saying that Mohammed Atta has successfully completed a training course at the house of Abu Nidal, the infamous Palestinian terrorist, who, of course, was killed by Saddam a couple of months later. Now, this is the first, really, concrete proof that al Qaeda was working with Saddam. It‘s a very explosive development
    • Con Coughlin, Sunday Telegraph; December 14, 2003 on Meet the Press; [9]
    • See Ron Suskind quotes on validity of the document. [about Bush]

About 2003 edit

  • The invasion didn’t take a toll only on Iraq’s movable artifacts; it also damaged the archeological sites from which such artifacts emerge. “It’s mostly the sites in the south that were damaged in the immediate aftermath of the invasion,” said Elizabeth Stone, an archeologist who used high-resolution satellite imagery to compare the damage to sites right before and after the invasion. Her data showed a sudden “massive devastation:” Of 1,457 southern sites examined, 13 percent had already been looted prior to the invasion, by February 2003—but that proportion rose to 41 percent by the end of the year. Sites containing relics of temples and palaces, like Umma and Umm Al-Aqarib, were far removed from governmental oversight, “so lots of people just went off and dug holes,” she said.

Looting of the National Museum of Iraq (April 2003) edit

 
It is the only museum in the world where you can trace the earliest development of human culturetechnology, agriculture, art, language and writing—in just one place. ~ Donny George Youkhanna
 
Every single item that was lost is a great loss for humanity. ~ Donny George Youkhanna
 
American academics that convened in 1943 to address the war effort made their assessments eight months before the Allied invasion of Italy and eighteen months before the invasion of France. In comparison, academic meetings with the Pentagon occurred less than three months prior to the Iraq War. A wider window of time is needed to prepare guidelines that consider I environmental and cultural conditions soldiers are expected to encounter in a specified theatre of war. ~ Gregory J. Ferrara
 
The speed with which the Coalition forces achieved victory over the Iraqi military contributed to a swift collapse of the security system that had previously existed in Iraq to curb looting. There were not enough Coalition troops in Baghdad to deal with remaining pockets of resistance and simultaneously control the looting. ~ Gregory J. Ferrara
 
It depended on who they don't like. Was it the Americans? Was it the Israelis? Was it the Kuwaitis? It was very funny, but also sad that they never, never accused the actual people in Baghdad of looting. ~ Lamia al-Gailani
  • The speed with which the Coalition forces achieved victory over the Iraqi military contributed to a swift collapse of the security system that had previously existed in Iraq to curb looting. There were not enough Coalition troops in Baghdad to deal with remaining pockets of resistance and simultaneously control the looting. As a result, the "U.S. Army initially allowed the looting to continue unchecked." Looting extended beyond Baghdad to hundreds of archaeological sites throughout the whole of Iraq. The United States and Coalition forces simply did not have enough personnel to adequately protect all of them.
  • All the looting at Baghdad's Iraq Museum had taken place by the time U.S. troops—engaged in toppling Saddam Hussein—arrived to protect it, on April 16, 2003. Between April 8, when the museum was vacated, and April 12, when the first of the staff returned, clubs in hand, thieves had plundered an estimated 15,000 items, many of them choice antiquities: ritual vessels, heads from sculptures, amulets, Assyrian ivories and more than 5,000 cylinder seals.
    The looting proved less extensive than the early reports of 170,000 stolen artifacts, but the losses were nonetheless staggering. "Every single item that was lost is a great loss for humanity," says Donny George Youkhanna, the former director general of Iraqi museums, now a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "It is the only museum in the world where you can trace the earliest development of human culturetechnology, agriculture, art, language and writing—in just one place."
  • In the chaotic, violent April of 2003, as US tanks rolled into Baghdad, the Iraq Museum was broken into and pillaged. Looters rampaged through the halls, storerooms, and cellars, stealing more than 15,000 precious objects.
    "It was terrible. You didn't want to believe it," says Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani, who worked for many years at the museum before moving to London.
    "Especially hearing about objects that you know, and then people start saying they've gone - it was a shock."
  • Lamia al-Gailani says her Arab friends had trouble accepting that Baghdadis may have been responsible for looting their own treasures.
    "Everyone had their own theory of who looted the museum," she says. "It depended on who they don't like. Was it the Americans? Was it the Israelis? Was it the Kuwaitis? It was very funny, but also sad that they never, never accused the actual people in Baghdad of looting."

Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You, Norman Solomon & Reese Erlich (2003) edit

Full text online

2004 edit

  • You know, I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over. I don't believe he went in there for oil. We didn't go in there for imperialist or financial reasons. We went in there because he bought the Wolfowitz-Cheney analysis that the Iraqis would be better off, we could shake up the authoritarian Arab regimes in the Middle East, and our leverage to make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis would be increased.
  • The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it, and are now in the process of selling it.
    I speak of Iraq, not because everybody is talking about it, (sadly at the cost of leaving other horrors in other places to unfurl in the dark), but because it is a sign of things to come. Iraq marks the beginning of a new cycle. It offers us an opportunity to watch the Corporate-Military cabal that has come to be known as 'Empire' at work. In the new Iraq the gloves are off.
    As the battle to control the world's resources intensifies, economic colonialism through formal military aggression is staging a comeback. Iraq is the logical culmination of the process of corporate globalization in which neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism have fused. If we can find it in ourselves to peep behind the curtain of blood, we would glimpse the pitiless transactions taking place backstage. But first, briefly, the stage itself.
  • Before Washington’s illegal invasion of Iraq, a Gallup International poll showed that in no European country was the support for a unilateral war higher than 11 percent. On February 15, 2003, weeks before the invasion, more than ten million people marched against the war on different continents, including North America. And yet the governments of many supposedly democratic countries still went to war. The question is: is “democracy” still democratic? Are democratic governments accountable to the people who elected them? And, critically, is the public in democratic countries responsible for the actions...?
  • Apparently in [Tom] Delay's warped sense of logic, ethnic cleansing was an ill-defined reason for military intervention, but outright lies about "weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)," Iraqi "connections" to Al-Qaeda, and/or Saddam Hussein's "involvement" in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, were sufficient grounds to wage an unjust war costing billions of tax dollars and destroying thousands of lives.
  • Audience Member: Negrodamus, why is President Bush convinced there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
Negrodamus: Because he has the receipt.
  • The option of war can appear initially to be the most rapid. But let us not forget that after winning the war, peace must be built.

Arundhati Roy in her 2004 Sydney Peace Prize lecture, University of Sydney, (4 November 2004) edit

  • The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it...
  • Iraq marks the beginning of a new cycle. It offers us an opportunity to watch the Corporate-Military cabal that has come to be known as 'Empire' at work...As the battle to control the world's resources intensifies, economic colonialism through formal military aggression is staging a comeback. Iraq is the logical culmination of the process of corporate globalization in which neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism have fused.
  • If we can find it in ourselves to peep behind the curtain of blood, we would glimpse the pitiless transactions taking place backstage. But first, briefly, the stage itself. In 1991 US President George Bush senior mounted Operation Desert Storm... Half a million Iraqi children died because of the regime of economic sanctions in the run up to Operation Shock and Awe. Until recently, while there was a careful record of how many US soldiers had lost their lives, we had no idea of how many Iraqis had been killed. US General Tommy Franks said "We don't do body counts" (meaning Iraqi body counts). He could have added "We don't do the Geneva Convention either."
  • A new, detailed study, fast-tracked by the Lancet medical journal and extensively peer reviewed, estimates that 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the 2003 invasion. That's one hundred halls full of people - like this one. That's one hundred halls full of friends, parents, siblings, colleagues, lovers...like you. The difference is that there aren't many children here today let's not forget Iraq's children. Technically that bloodbath is called precision bombing. In ordinary language, it's called butchering,
  • So the 'civilized' 'modern' world - built painstakingly on a legacy of genocide, slavery and colonialism - now controls most of the world's oil. And most of the world's weapons, most of the world's money, and most of the world's media. The embedded, corporate media in which the doctrine of Free Speech has been substituted by the doctrine of Free If You Agree Speech.
  • The UN's Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix said he found no evidence of nuclear weapons in Iraq. Every scrap of evidence produced by the US and British governments was found to be false - whether it was reports of Saddam Hussein buying uranium from Niger , or the report produced by British Intelligence which was discovered to have been plagiarized from an old student dissertation. And yet, in the prelude to the war, day after day the most 'respectable' newspapers and TV channels in the US, headlined the 'evidence' of Iraq's arsenal of weapons of nuclear weapons.
  • What does peace mean to the poor who are being actively robbed of their resources and for whom everyday life is a grim battle for water, shelter, survival and, above all, some semblance of dignity? For them, peace is war.
  • We know very well who benefits from war in the age of Empire. But we must also ask ourselves honestly who benefits from peace in the age of Empire? War mongering is criminal. But talking of peace without talking of justice could easily become advocacy for a kind of capitulation. And talking of justice without unmasking the institutions and the systems that perpetrate injustice, is beyond hypocritical.
  • It's easy to blame the poor for being poor. It's easy to believe that the world is being caught up in an escalating spiral of terrorism and war. That's what allows the American President to say "You're either with us or with the terrorists." But we know that that's a spurious choice. We know that terrorism is only the privatization of war. That terrorists are the free marketers of war. They believe that the legitimate use of violence is not the sole prerogative of the State.
  • It is mendacious to make moral distinction between the unspeakable brutality of terrorism and the indiscriminate carnage of war and occupation. Both kinds of violence are unacceptable. We cannot support one and condemn the other.

2005 edit

  • Saddam is gone. It's a good thing, but I don't agree with what was done. It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors, one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country.

2006 edit

  • David Winters of the University of Michigan found in 2005 that the high RWAs in a large sample of university students believed the invasion of Iraq constituted a just war. They thought the danger posed by Iraq was so great, the United States had no other choice. They thought the invasion occurred only as a last resort, after all peaceful alternatives had been exhausted, and that the war would bring about more good than evil. They thought the "pre-emptive" attack for self-defense had been justified even though no weapons of mass destruction were discovered. They also rejected the suggestion that the war was conducted to control oil supplies and extend American power, or as an act of revenge. And they still believed that Saddam had been involved in the 9/11 attacks.
    • Bob Altemeyer, The Authoritarians (2006), p. 46
  • [T]here is no longer a preponderance of military force that allows the West to impose its will, the U.S. defeat in Iraq being the most extraordinary illustration of that fact.
    • Jean Bricmont (2006), Humanitarian Imperialism, Monthly Review Press, p. 14.
  • I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there's a strong will for democracy.
  • I asked about victory and how it might be achieved, and he said that would require more than security in Iraq. There would have to be self-government and the physical reconstruction of the country- all the "lines of operation" in Casey's war plan. "Is this going to happen in your lifetime?" I asked. "Yes, it is. Well, I hope, yeah. I don't know," he said. "I should retract that line. It can happen in my lifetime." "Do you have any doubts this was the right decision to invade Iraq?" "I have no doubts at all," he said. "None. Zero." "Isn't the process, though, you always have to doubt?" I said. "I live on doubt." "I'm sorry for you," the Marine general said. "Don't be sorry for me," I said. "It's a wonderful process." "I do not have doubt about what we've done," he said. "We did not do this. When we were sitting home minding our own business, we got attacked on 9/11."
    • Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush At War, Part III (2006), New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 476
  • There it was: "We did not do this." There is a deep feeling among some senior Bush administration officials that somehow we had not started the Iraq War. We had been attacked. Bin Laden, al Qaeda, the other terrorist and anti-American forces- whether groups or countries or philosophies- could be lumped together. It was one war, the long war, the two-generation war that Wolfowitz's Bletchley Group II had described after 9/11. "You sure it's the right war at the right time?" I asked Chairman Pace. "Yes, absolutely," Pace said. "Fundamentally, yes. I said that before we started. And I'll say that today. It may not surprise you to understand that taking my country's battles to my country's enemies on their playing field is where I think we should be. To protect my country, to do my oath to my country, and to protect my kids and my grandkids and your kids and your grandkids, I have zero doubt that we have done the right thing."
    • Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush At War, Part III (2006), New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 476
  • The president's national security adviser understandably wanted to win the 2006 congressional elections. Having the president answer questions about Iraq was inconsistent with that goal. The strategy was denial. With all Bush's upbeat talk and optimism, he had not told the American public the truth about what Iraq had become.
    • Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush At War, Part III (2006), New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 491

2007 edit

  • However it ends, the war in Iraq will have a profound influence on the future of the Middle East, global stability, and the security of the United States, which will remain, for the foreseeable future, directly affected by events in that dangerous part of the world. The war is part of a broader struggle in the Arab and Muslim world, the struggle between violent extremists and the force of modernity and moderation.
  • Who will demand accountability for the failure of our national political leadership involved in the management of this war? They have unquestionably been derelict in the performance of their duty. In my profession, these types of leaders would immediately be relieved or court martialed.

2008 edit

  • As I have heard Bush say, only a wartime president is likely to achieve greatness, in part because the epochal upheavals of war provide the opportunity for transformative change of the kind Bush hoped to achieve. In Iraq, Bush saw his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness.
    • Scott McClellan, What Happened (2008), pp. 131. (on Bush's need to be a wartime president to improve the chance of a "great" legacy)
  • In this case, the 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.
  • As a Texas loyalist who followed Bush to Washington with great hope and personal affection and as a proud member of his administration, I was all too ready to give him and his highly experienced foreign policy advisers the benefit of the doubt on Iraq. Unfortunately, subsequent events have showed that our willingness to trust the judgment of Bush and his team was misplaced.
  • The important thing to remember about the Iraq war is that the whole world protested against it. For the first time in history, the whole world, not just me and my husband Bob, but the whole world came together to try to stop a war before it started. That had never happened before. I have a book with pictures of those protests from all over the world, from Africa, from Asia, from all over Europe. In every country people said, “No, no, don’t do it, don’t do it.” Whatever happens now, this fact is in the world. I think with those protests, we made maybe a couple of inches of progress.
  • Osama Bin Laden and George Bush were both terrorists. They were both building international networks that perpetrate terror and devastate people’s lives. Bush with the Pentagon, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. Bin Laden with Al-Qaeda. The difference is that nobody elected Bin Laden... The United States supported Saddam Hussein and made sure that he ruled with an iron fist for all those years. Then they used the sanctions to break the back of civil society. Then they made Iraq disarm. Then they attacked Iraq. And now they’ve taken over all its assets.
    • Arundhati Roy in The Shape of the Beast: Conversations with Arundhati Roy (2008)
  • [Habbush] tells us there are no WMDs. He tells us Saddam's mindset, that he's afraid of the Iranians more than us, afraid of being showed to be a toothless tiger. That is something we ignore.
    • Ron Suskind, on meetings between British intelligence and Saddam Hussein's intelligence chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush, demonstrating Saddam's claim in jail years later that he didn't disclose his lack of WMDs for fear of Iran's perception of Iraq is not the first time the U.S. learned of it, on The Daily Show; August 11, 2008.
 
The lies, the crimes, the mass killings, the destruction — all of it. ~ Jeremy Scahill
  • Stewart: And the letter says literally in it Mohammad Atta did train in Iraq, and the uranium thing. Did anyone think it was weird that the letter combined the two things that were in question, that in the letter it said, Oh, and he did buy uranium from Niger...?
    Suskind: … It was an overreach moment. The letter popped up. Tom Brokaw did it on Meet the Press. William Safire writes about it. A couple days in, about a week in, people are just like, Geez, it's an awful lot in one letter. And that overreach kind of revealed it to be fraudulent.
    Stewart: Why didn't anyone pursue it at that time, the fraudulent nature of it? Why did that just fall away?
    Suskind: It was hard to get at. It's a closely held thing, and this is an operation through the CIA. You need someone who's going to stand up in daylight and say, Hey, this is what happened.
    Stewart: Your source in the CIA, Richard?
    Suskind: He's one of the folks.
    Stewart: He now says, I never said that; I was just kidding around. What's the situation with that?
    Suskind: He's a good guy. All the [sources] involved here are good guys, walking around with a kind of lump in their chest for awhile. I'm sympathetic to all the sources. They're under a lot of pressure. In this particular part of the book, there are a lot of disclosures, but this one, the White House is obviously intensely interested in, since there may be illegality that has constitutional consequences.
    Stewart: That is maybe the nicest way of saying "impeachment" I think I've ever heard in my life.
    • Ron Suskind, on CIA involvement in the fraudulent letter by Tahir Habbush claiming a link between Iraq, Atta, and Niger uranium, on The Daily Show; August 11, 2008
  • It just seem like she (Pelosi) was gonna really look to impeach Bush and get him out of office, which personally I think it would have been a wondeful thing. Absolutely, for the war...He lied! he got us into the war with lies, and... I mean look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant! and they tried to impeach him which was nonsense... and yet Bush got us into this 'horrible war' with lies, by lying, by saying they had weapon of mass destruction, by saying all sort of things, and turned out not to be true.

2010 edit

  • While the fast, drastic reduction in violence that occurred in Iraq in late 2007 was a tremendous milestone and achievement, there is a tendency among the military and American politicians to triumphantly overstate the gains. The mere absence of rampant murder does not produce a stable, healthy society on its own, and Iraq was and is a long way from being a free, fair, prosperous, and democratic civil society.
    During my visit to the area, sectarian resentments were festering and tribal harmony remained a long way off. Though slowly sputtering back to life, the economy was still barely functioning. Public services remained woefully inadequate or nonexistent. Sewage flowed into the street and the hum of generators to supplement the pitiful electric generators was ever present. Courts, government offices, and schools were underfunded and understaffed, if they were open at all.
    With he multipartite cease-fire hardening into the norm, however, and violence at four-year lows across the nation, the United States began in late 2008 dismantling much of the surge it had begun less than two years before. With attacks down over 80 percent in Babil province (where much of the Triangle of Death is located), U.S. forces handed full responsibility for the territory back to the Iraqis in October 2008. By January 2009, there were only one-third the U>S. troops in the Triangle that had been there a year before.
    • Jim Frederick, Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death (2010), New York: Broadway Books, 1st paperback edition, p. 356-357
  • In June 2009, the United States further withdrew across Iraq, retrenching to large bases and largely staying out of day-to-day security operations except for in a few restive areas. For some months before, the United States ad likewise begun scaling back on the Sons of Iraq initiative, a move that ha not, as many predicted, resulted in a wholesale return among former insurgents to their murderous ways. There are still bombings in Iraq, sometimes very lethal ones, but they remain, for now, fairly isolated incidents.
    While Iraq may never become the model of Middle Eastern democracy and capitalism that the Bush administration envisioned, the current consensus among military chiefs as well as politicians and planners of every political affiliation is that the situation there is stable enough to allow the United States to withdraw completely without considering it a defeat. With the war in Afghanistan deteriorating rapidly and taking on a renewed urgency with the Obama administration, the United States remains on schedule to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
    For some, however, the war will never be over.
    • Jim Frederick, Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death (2010), New York: Broadway Books, 1st paperback edition, p. 357
  • I woke up in the middle of the night with the sound of heavy explosion. It was deep at night. I do not remember what time it was. I just remember the sound was so heavy and so very shocking. Everything in my room was shaking -- my heart, my windows, my bed, everything. I looked out the windows and I saw a full half-circle of explosion. I thought it was just like the movies, but the movies had not conveyed them in the powerful image that I was seeing full of bright red and orange and gray, and a full circle of explosion. And I kept on staring at it until it disappeared. I went back to my bed, and I prayed, and I secretly thanked God that that missile did not land on my family's home, that it did not kill my family that night. Thirty years have passed, and I still feel guilty about that prayer, for the next day, I learned that that missile landed on my brother's friend's home and killed him and his father, but did not kill his mother or his sister. His mother showed up the next week at my brother's classroom and begged seven-year-old kids to share with her any picture they may have of her son, for she had lost everything.
  • I grew up with the colors of war -- the red colors of fire and blood, the brown tones of earth as it explodes in our faces and the piercing silver of an exploded missile, so bright that nothing can protect your eyes from it. I grew up with the sounds of war -- the staccato sounds of gunfire, the wrenching booms of explosions, ominous drones of jets flying overhead and the wailing warning sounds of sirens. These are the sounds you would expect, but they are also the sounds of dissonant concerts of a flock of birds screeching in the night, the high-pitched honest cries of children and the thunderous, unbearable silence. "War," a friend of mine said, "is not about sound at all. It is actually about silence, the silence of humanity." [...] I have learned not only that the colors and the sounds of war are the same, but the fears of war are the same. You know, there is a fear of dying.

2011 edit

  • In 2003, Carter’s doctrine of force when necessary was carried out with “shock and awe,” in what was the most intensive and profligate use of fossil fuel the world has ever witnessed. Recall, too, that as Baghdad fell, invading US troops ignored the looting of schools, hospitals and a nuclear power facility as well as the ransacking of national museums and burning of the National Library and Archives holding peerless, irreplaceable documentation of the “cradle of civilization.” The US military did, however, immediately seize and guard the Iraqi Oil Ministry Headquarters and positioned 2,000 soldier to safeguard oilfields. First things first.
  • Many factors have converged and clarified over time to support the proposition that, at its core, the Iraq war was a war over oil. Eliminating weapons of mass destruction, deposing a tyrannical dictator, rooting out terrorism linked to 9/11, employing gunboat diplomacy to instill democracy and human rights – all were largely foils for oil. Alan Greenspan put it squarely: I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everybody knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.
    As we near peak oil production, that is, the point of diminishing returns for oil exploration and production and higher oil prices, OPEC countries’ share of global production “will rise from 46 percent in 2007 to 56 percent in 2030.” Iraq has the third-largest reserves of oil; Iraq and Kazakhstan are “two of the top four countries with the largest [petroleum] production increases forecast from 2000 to 2030. The Middle East and Central Asia are, predictably, epicenters of US military operations and wars. A 2006 report on national security and US oil dependency released by the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that the US should maintain “a strong military posture that permits suitably rapid deployment to the [Persian Gulf] region” for at least 20 years. US military professionals concur and are preparing for the prospect of “large-scale armed struggle” over access to energy resources.
  • Our national security has been reduced in large part to energy security, which has led us to militarizing our access to oil through establishing a military presence across the oil-bearing regions of the world and instigating armed conflict in Iraq, sustaining it in Afghanistan and provoking it in Libya... Air war a model for future wars? If so, a death knell for the planet. This insatiable militarism is the single greatest institutional contributor to the growing natural disasters intensified by global climate change.

2014 edit

  • These are not just geopolitical fights based on principle, but these fights are based on real material realities, real material advantages. So you look at the routes of these various pipelines that are being proposed and actually built to bring natural gas from Central Asia to the European markets. Turkey felt that it was in their interest to make sure that they can influence the best deal possible that will allow them to be positioned to take full advantage of these pipelines. That's one of the reasons many people argue that Syria had to go: that when there were proposals to run these natural gas pipelines from Iran through Iraq and through Syria, that it was a direct threat to some of the ambitions that Erdogan has for Turkey.
  • Barack Obama became the fourth consecutive U.S. president to order air strikes in Iraq.

    President George Bush went into Iraq in 1991 during the Gulf War under the auspices of a U.N. Security Council resolution against the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and with a resolution authorizing the use of military force (AUMF) from Congress.  In the late 1990s, President Bill Clinton ordered airstrikes in Iraq in 1998, claiming Saddam Hussein had been thwarting U.N. weapons inspectors, sans Congressional authorization, arguing the strikes were a temporary measure covered by the War Powers Act.  In 2003, under the pretext of problems with the treatment of U.N. weapons inspectors and using multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions to justify the action, President George W. Bush ordered an invasion of Iraq.  He, too, had an AUMF, pinned on U.N. Security Council resolutions worried about weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  Last year President Obama reinserted the U.S. military into Iraq to combat ISIS.

2016 edit

  • [I]t's very popular to criticize Bush today, Bush 43. Especially for the Iraq invasion, and I’ve heard many voices, even within the Republican Party, it’s just floating with the popular trend. First of all, I have to say as somebody who was born and raised in a Communist country, I cannot criticize any action that led to the destruction of dictatorship.
  • The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.... As WikLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.... From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics – the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage. Why is this not news? The former British Foreign Office official Carne Ross, who was responsible for operating sanctions against Iraq, told me: “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we would freeze them out. That is how it worked.”
  • The war in Iraq we've spent 2 trillion dollars, thousands of lives, we don't even have it, Iran is taking over Iraq with the second largest oil reserve in the world. Obviously, it was a mistake, George Bush made a mistake, we can make mistakes, but that one was 'a beauty.' We should've never been in Iraq, we've destabilized the Middle East.

2017 edit

 
"Do I feel guilty about what happened?" the answer's "No, I don't" ~ George W. Bush
  • I get asked all the time "Do I feel guilty about what happened?" the answer's "No, I don't" I've made the decision, the best decision I could make...It was important for the defense of our country, I knew going into war that somebody can get hurt that...but made whole decision so much graver...on the other hand, Laura and I have met hundreds who said "I would it again Mr. President"
  • Similar ferocity marked the Marine assaults against the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004. Eighteen thousand of the city’s 39,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. More than 120 Americans and thousands of Iraqi civilians and insurgents died. Had it not been for modern medical techniques, about as many Americans would have been killed in Fallujah as in Hue. And over a decade later, it has taken 100,000 Iraqi forces (to include the Kurdish peshmerga soldiery) a year to kill or drive out the estimated 5,000 terrorists called ISIS from Mosul. Undoubtedly the toll, if ever accurately assessed, will be much higher than in Hue of 1968.

2018 edit

 
On February 15, 2003, weeks before the invasion, more than ten million people marched against the war on different continents, including North America. And yet the governments of many supposedly democratic countries still went to war. The question is: is “democracy” still democratic? Are democratic governments accountable to the people who elected them? And, critically, is the public in democratic countries responsible for the actions? ~ Arundhati Roy
  • March 19 marks 15 years since the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion unleashed. The U.S. military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion.
    The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.
  • But even aside from looting, some of the Iraqi artifacts that stayed in the country were badly damaged by the U.S. invasion. The Babylonians’ famous Ishtar Gate, built in 575 BC south of Baghdad and excavated in the early 1900s, offers a stark example. In 2003, U.S. forces established a military camp right in the middle of the archeological site. A 2004 study by the British Museum documented the “extremely unfortunate” damage this caused. About 300,000 square meters were covered with gravel, contaminating the site. Several dragon figures on the Ishtar Gate were damaged. Trenches were cut into ancient deposits, dispersing brick fragments bearing cuneiform inscriptions. One area was flattened to make a landing pad for helicopters; another made way for a parking lot; yet another, portable toilets.
  • On April 9, 2003, television networks across the globe cut to a live scene unfolding in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. A motley hybrid of what appeared to be ordinary Iraqis and uniformed U.S. troops — who had begun to occupy Baghdad — pulled down a massive statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a brilliant, semi-staged propaganda exercise meant to reinforce the neoconservative promise that ordinary Iraqis would be exuberant over the fall of the regime and welcome the U.S. troops as liberators. It was with this image firmly tattooed on the public consciousness of the war that George W. Bush stepped off a fighter plane onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, ridiculously dressed in a flight suit, and told the world that the American mission was accomplished. There was a massive banner with that message created just for that moment. In reality, this particular war was just beginning and it continues on to this day. It is important to examine what happened in this war and how it happened: the lies, the crimes, the mass killings, the destruction — all of it. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neoconservatives should all hold a special place in the hall of shame for mass killers for what they did to Iraq. But they did it with the support of many in Congress, including some of the most prominent and elite Democrats, including the 2016 nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.
  • When the French president spoke at the UN against American unilateralism, no one could ignore the echoes of 2003, Iraq and the struggles over that disastrous war. It was a moment that had bitterly divided Europe and America, governments and citizens. It had revealed an alarming gulf in political culture between the two continents. Bush and his cohorts on the right wing of the Republican Party were not easy for bien-pensant, twenty-first-century citizens of the world to assimilate. For all their talk of the onward march of democracy, it wasn’t even clear that they had won the election that first gave them power in 2000. In cahoots with Tony Blair, they had misled the world over WMD. With their unabashed appeals to divine inspiration and their crusading zeal they flaunted their disregard for the conception of modernity in which both the EU and the UN liked to dress themselves—enlightened, transparent, liberal, cosmopolitan. That was, of course, its own kind of window dressing, its own kind of symbolic politics. But symbols matter. They are essential ingredients in the construction of both meaning and hegemony.
    • Adam Tooze Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crashes Changed the World (2018)
  • President George W. Bush would have ordered the war even without the United Nations presentation, or if Secretary Powell had failed miserably in giving it. But the secretary’s gravitas was a significant part of the two-year-long effort by the Bush administration to get Americans on the war wagon. That effort led to a war of choice with Iraq — one that resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East.
  • As I look back at our lock-step march toward war with Iraq, I realize that it didn’t seem to matter to us that we used shoddy or cherry-picked intelligence; that it was unrealistic to argue that the war would “pay for itself,” rather than cost trillions of dollars; that we might be hopelessly naïve in thinking that the war would lead to democracy instead of pushing the region into a downward spiral.
    The sole purpose of our actions was to sell the American people on the case for war with Iraq. Polls show that we did. Mr. Trump and his team are trying to do it again. If we’re not careful, they’ll succeed.

2020 edit

  • The reason why the U.S. Government must be prosecuted for its war-crimes against Iraq is that they are so horrific and there are so many of them, and international law crumbles until they become prosecuted and severely punished for what they did. We therefore now have internationally a lawless world (or “World Order”) in which “Might makes right,” and in which there is really no effective international law, at all. This is merely gangster “law,” ruling on an international level... Take, for example, Condoleezza Rice, who famously warned “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” (That warning was one of the most effective lies in order to deceive the American public into invading Iraq, because President Bush had had no real evidence, at all, that there still remained any WMD in Iraq after the U.N. had destroyed them all, and left Iraq in 1998 — and he knew this; he was informed of this; he knew that he had no real evidence, at all: he offered none; it was all mere lies.)
  • On 15 March 2018, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies headlined at Alternet, “The Staggering Death Toll in Iraq” and wrote that “our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion,” and linked to solid evidence, backing up their estimate.... On 6 February 2020, BusinessInsider bannered “US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of $8,000 each and over $2 trillion total for the Iraq war alone”, and linked to the academic analysis that supported this estimate. The U.S. regime’s invasive war, which the Bush gang perpetrated against Iraq, was also a crime against the American people (though Iraqis suffered far more from it than we did).
  • Too often those making the decisions for war assume that, somehow, victory will magically sort out all problems. In 1998 the American military spent a lot of time developing plans to defeat Saddam Hussein and testing them in war games. General Anthony Zinni, head of the United States Central Command with responsibility for the Middle East, later said, ‘It struck me then that we had a plan to defeat Saddam’s army, but we didn’t have a plan to rebuild Iraq.’ He organised his own war game in 1999 and came to the conclusion that the invading forces would encounter considerable problems; the country was likely to fragment ‘along religious and/or ethnic lines’, rival forces would battle for power and the Americans would face growing hostility.
  • In 2002, as the United States moved towards war against Iraq, a final, huge war game tested American forces’ ability to defeat an unnamed Middle Eastern power. The American side had a clear advantage in advanced electronics, tanks, planes and warships. The general in command of the much weaker ‘enemy’ forces, however, rang rings around his opponents. He kept radio silence and used motorcycles to deliver messages and so made it difficult for his opponent’s electronic surveillance to follow his moves. He had fleets of suicide bombers in speedboats knock out, on paper, sixteen American warships. The Pentagon suspended the game part-way through and rewrote the rules. The warships were miraculously resurrected and the ‘enemy’ general was ordered to turn off his air defences and reveal the location of key units. He chose to quit in disgust. His demonstration of asymmetric war, where a weaker power can disrupt and challenge much stronger forces through unconventional means, was a warning of what was going to happen to coalition forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where they were battered by hit and run attacks by guerrillas who communicated through secure channels and who used cheap improvised explosive devices, often shells or other containers packed with explosives and pieces of metal such as ordinary nails which can be set off with cheap, readily available technology such as the remote controls for children’s toy cars or garage-door openers.
  • When Congress tried to impose time limits on troop engagements during the Iraq War, the neocons squawked that it would be a mistake to have 535 generals. They said the execution of the war was the prerogative of the president -- until a president decided he wanted to leave a war. During the Bush Administration, Dick Cheney and a team of legal apologists argued for something called the "Unitary Executive Theory." Professor Edelson at American University describes this theory of an all-powerful commander-in-chief concept. This Unitary Executive Theory claimed to justify effectively unchecked presidential power over the use of military force, the detention and interrogation of prisoners, extraordinary rendition, and intelligence gathering. According to the Unitary Executive Theory, since the Constitution assigns the president all of the "executive power," he can set aside laws that attempt to limit this power over national security. This is an enormous power. Critics say that it effectively puts the president above the law. But this is the belief of the neocons: They say, "The president is all-powerful," until, they say, "Well, unless the president's trying to stop a war. Then we must shackle the president with rules and regulations, and make sure that he cannot leave a war unless Congress says so." That's what the NDAA will do this year.

2021 edit

  • Probably no story I ever did changed my views more than a trip I took to Iraq for Esquire magazine in 2003. I arrived a tepid supporter of the war, and of neoconservatism more generally. I returned home a determined opponent of both. The reality of Iraq bore no resemblance to the debates we were having back in Washington. The occupation was so clearly a disaster, even early on. The problem wasn’t simply that the Iraqi resistance was more determined than we’d imagined, and the country itself more complicated, though both of those things were true. The problem was that America wasn’t suited to be a colonial power. Effective colonialists rule the countries they conquer. They bring order and clarity. They make certain they benefit from the exercise of their power, because otherwise, what’s the point? America was totally incapable of any of that. The Americans occupying Iraq couldn’t even admit to themselves they were colonialists. Instead, the State Department dressed up the whole operation like it was a kind of armed sensitivity training seminar, designed to liberate Iraqi women from their traditional gender roles: “Now that we’ve overthrown Saddam, we march ahead to overthrow the patriarchy!” The result was failure, accompanied by chaos on every level. Watching it, I realized that there was nothing conservative about neoconservatism. The neocons were just liberals with guns, the most destructive kind. The upside of the trip was that I made a lifelong friend. To this day I’m close to Kelly McCann, the retired Marine officer who guided me in Iraq. He’s still one of the most impressive people I know.
    • Tucker Carlson, The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism (2021)
  • A game about the Iraq War might not seem like it poses big questions about the politics of war, but as a hugely popular form of mass media, video games can influence people’s emotional states, thought patterns, and perceptions. Every year, military-themed first person shooters (FPS), which simulate combat from the point of view of a combatant, generate billions of dollars of revenue.
  • Consider Full Spectrum Warrior, a 2004 game that began development as a training simulator for U.S. Army soldiers. The company behind it, Pandemic, modified the game into a commercial release that so the Army could send the game downrange for soldiers to play while deployed. Set in a fictionalized version of Iraq, the game features an empty, crumbling urban landscape coded to be obviously Middle Eastern, filled only with Arab men to shoot. The strongest incentive not to engage in [combat isn’t to safeguard civilians, but to avoid personal injury to your squad mates. Despite its marketing as “realistic” and messaging that it was developed with input from the Pentagon, the game-world it creates removes the complexity of urban insurgency and substitutes simplified moral dilemmas that portray the military in unambiguously good terms—an enjoyable setting for a game, but hardly reflective of the reality of the war in Iraq.
  • The U.S. military also appears to have been involved in the production of Six Days in Fallujah, which raises questions about how it is intended to shape perceptions of the Iraq war. In the mid-2000s, Tamte led a different video game developer named Destineer, which partnered with the Japanese publisher Konami to release a version of Six Days. Back then, Tamte claimed the game had no stance on the politics of the war in Iraq, as he repeated this year. At the time, Destineer ran a thriving side business making training simulations for the Pentagon and the intelligence community. The U.S. Marine Corps was an official consultant for the company’s first game, Close Combat: First to Fight. And In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture investment arm, partnered with the company in 2005. The suggestion that a company with such deep ties to the government could make a game without politics sparked an outcry, and Konami deemed the game too controversial. They canceled its publication in 2009. No one is canceling Six Days in Fallujah anymore. Tamte’s current company, Victura, is also a publisher, so he is moving forward with a new developer contracted to update the game’s code and gameplay. The game is slated for release later this year.
  • The invasion of Iraq has resulted in the almost complete annihilation of that country’s Christian community, and the attempt to remove Bashar Assad from power in Syria has seen that country’s Christians mercilessly attacked by the agents of US power, radical Islamists. To be a Christian in the Middle East is to be in constant fear that the USA will set its sights on your country because wherever it arrives, Mujahideen are never that far away.
  • Some of the wars America fought were "simply for profit" and the sanctions it has imposed on certain countries have been as destructive as wars... The American people have virtually no say over when we go to war. These decisions are made in back rooms somewhere...The American people continue to be lied to about why we go to war, because again, one of the big reasons is simply for profit, and that's always been true to some extent, but now it is in a very naked way.
  • [On the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan] From a strategic point of view, it has to be seen as a complete failure, and yet it went on for 20 years, why did it go on for 20 years? Because the defense industry companies that make the bombs, that make the planes, that make the vehicles, and also the private military contractors that now are fighting the wars in lieu of public military personnel, they made trillions of dollars as long as the war continued. So they didn't care if the war was ever won, the goal was for the war to simply continue forever... the point is not to win the war, but to make sure it never ends because you're going to keep making profits.

2023 edit

  • Twenty years ago today the US and the UK invaded Iraq in a disastrous military mission based on flawed intelligence, months of lying to the world, and a casual disregard for international law.
    The invasion would lead to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, decades of civil war and vicious sectarian violence in Iraq, and the rise of the Islamic State militant group. Incubated in a US prison camp, IS was directed and staffed in part by former members and officers of the Saddam-era Ba’ath party.
    In a pattern that would be repeated again and again over the following two decades of the “war on terror”, the US and its allies, including the United Kingdom, assumed that overwhelming technical and military superiority was all they needed to control a distant nation and its people.
    A “shock and awe” bombing campaign showcasing that military power launched the invasion, and ground troops moved into Iraq the next day, 20 March. Saddam was soon on the run, and in early April, Baghdad was formally occupied.
    On 1 May, US president George Bush set up a theatrical spectacle on an aircraft carrier, flying in to announce “mission accomplished”. America had ended “major combat operations” in Iraq.
    It was a speech that betrayed American arrogance, ignorance and disdain about realities on the ground in Iraq, where decades of bloodshed were only just beginning.
  • The damning Chilcot report on Britain’s involvement in the war later found that the UK had chosen to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted, and then the prime minister Tony Blair had deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
    Britain’s intelligence agencies produced “flawed information”, working from the start on the misguided assumption that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and made no attempt to consider the possibility that he had got rid of them, which he had.
    Blair ignored warnings that Iraq could degenerate into civil war after the invasion, including from US secretary of state, Colin Powell who accurately predicted “a terrible blood-letting of revenge after Saddam goes”.
    The British government had no post-invasion strategy and no influence on Iraq’s postwar US-run administration.
    Overall, Britain did not achieve its objectives in Iraq, Chilcot found. The war undermined US and British authority on the international stage, with the reputational damage continuing until today, when it has hampered efforts to gather support for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion.

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