Exactly five years ago, US and British forces embarked on an illegal pre-emptive war on Iraq with the stated aim of bringing “freedom and democracy” to the country. Instead, they have destroyed Iraq, turning it into a country of mutually hostile ghettoes, presiding over the deaths of over one million Iraqis, driving more than two million into exile, with another 1.9 million internally displaced.
This constitutes a ghastly mass social experiment using live and unwilling subjects. By any count, the governments in Washington and London, to put it bluntly, stand guilty of massive war crimes against humanity. If we actually lived in a democracy, then Bush, Cheney, Brown and Blair and everyone in their regimes who endorsed the invasion and occupation, would be behind bars. The fact that they are still at large speaks volumes for the real nature of present-day politics.
The charge sheet is endless. Driven by corporate greed to turn Iraq from a state-run to a market economy, the occupying powers have dismembered and sold off industries and withdrawn government subsidies for food and power. This “shock therapy”, which was the real objective of the invasion, has added to the untold misery of the Iraqi people. The oil industry, however, was left in state hands so that its resources could be divided up between the oil corporations through contracts so generous that no other country in the world would have agreed to their conditions.
As anyone who cared to investigate at the time knew, the invasion was prepared and launched on a pretext. It followed a softening-up process in relation to international law, when pre-emptive military action was taken against former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan to effect regime change. The United Nations was reduced to a pathetic onlooker as Washington and London prepared the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It took former general secretary Kofi Anan until September 2004 to say that the war was contrary to international law, when a word or two at the time might have made a difference.
As to the fabled “Weapons of Mass Destruction” – they were, of course, essentially weapons of mass disinformation. Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter said in an interview: “All this talk about Iraq having chemical weapons is no longer valid. Most of it is based on speculation that Iraq could have hidden some of these weapons from UN inspectors. I believe we did a good job of inspecting Iraq.” The UN blew up the main manufacturing plant and Ritter says that anything hidden would by now be “useless sludge”. He adds: “If Iraq was producing weapons today, we’d have definitive proof, plain and simple.”
The lies about WMD were known in London, where dodgy dossiers cobbled together from the Internet and reworked by press officers tried to build the case for war. On May 1, 2005 the "Downing Street memo" was leaked. It contained an overview of a secret July 23, 2002 meeting between New Labour ministers, defence and intelligence figures who discussed the build-up to the Iraq war. The memo stated: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." According to the Center for Public Integrity, Bush's administration made a total of 935 false statements between 2001 and 2003 about Iraq's alleged threat to the United States.
History will come to see the invasion as a desperate act by desperate politicians on behalf of a greedy corporate elite. Far from demonstrating the all-powerful nature of the US, the war has exposed its Achilles heel – the massive indebtedness of the country, which is bringing down its banking system and depriving millions of people of their homes. The true cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is put at a staggering $3 trillion – or $3,000,000,000,000. That has helped bankrupt the US Treasury, weaken the dollar and deprive America itself of much-needed public investment. In this way, the cost of the war has contributed to the recession now hitting the US economy. The war, paradoxically, has weakened the US where it hurts most. No wonder that most Americans are now opposed to the continued occupation of Iraq.
AWTW communications editor