The only thing necessary for the triumph
of evil is for good men to do nothing.
– Edmund Burke
The final withdrawal of 40,000 U.S. troops from Iraq occurred during the middle of December and finally brought to an end the drawn-out war and occupation that began with the American invasion in 2003. During a ceremony with American and Iraqi representatives U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that the war was “not in vain”. Requests by President Obama to keep 15,000 troops based in Iraq were rejected by the Iraqi government who demanded that all of theAmerican occupation troops quickly depart their country. Other political blocs in the country such as the Sunnis and Kurds also want the Americans out of Iraq. The U.S. embassy will still be the largest one in Baghdad and will house close to 15,000 U.S. military contract workers whom many simply consider to be paid soldier-mercenaries. The newly-elected government of Iraq led by Prime Minister Maliki is dominated by Shiite Muslims and was pressured by the politically influential Badr organization and party to demand that U.S. occupation troops leave immediately. The Shiite Badr organization and its Mahdi army had previously fought fierce street battles with U.S. troops and its leader Muqtada al-Sadr vowed publicly that fighting would again resume if the Americans did not leave the country. Meanwhile, the government of Iraq has now moved politically closer to an alliance with the neighboring government of Iran who has actively assisted and armed their fellow-Shiites much to the disapproval of the U.S.
The past involvement by the U.S. in Saddam Hussein’s rise to power.
Saddam Hussein’s rise to power in Iraq was aided by the U.S. over a long period of time. Evidence suggests that during the Cold War, Saddam, who was a Sunni Muslim, was recruited and placed on the CIA payroll in 1959 as a paid agent for its covert operations program. The then-Iraq primeMinister and nationalist, Abd al-Karim Qasim, had been categorized at that time by the U.S. as politically too independent and “uncooperative”. Qasim had fought against British colonial intervention in Iraq and attempted to win Iraqi control over his country’s oil resources from British and U.S. oil companies. Struggling to defend the interests and independence of Iraq, Qasim had purchased weapons from the Soviet Union. Also at this time, the Iraqi Communist party was very large and influential among the Iraqi workers who were some of the best educated in the Middle-East. This widespread leftist influence within Iraq was legal and tolerated by Qasim, but was bitterly opposed by the U.S. and the British. When Qasim pulled Iraq out of the U.S. created anti-Soviet Baghdad pact and attempted to steer a neutral course, the Eisenhower administration placed him on a list of enemies to be eliminated. The CIA then paid the 22-year old Saddam and five of his cohorts to kill Qasim, but this botched attempt only wounded the Iraqi leader. The U.S. supported Baath party finally succeeded in the overthrow and murder of Qasim in 1963 and the useful Saddam was brought back to Iraq from his exile in Egypt. Still on the American payroll, Saddam was placed in charge of the new Iraqi government’s intelligence organization where American agents provided him with a hit-list of over 5000 suspected liberals and leftists who were then rounded up and killed by Saddam’s brutal thugs. Saddam temporarily fell out of power after this coup due to infighting within the Baath party. However, ensuing U.S. opposition to this new coalition government motivated President Johnson to again unleash the CIA on Iraq as they organized a coup in 1968 that supported Saddam Hussein and the Baath party in their violent seizure of power. Saddam then served under Iraqi president Ahmed Hassan Bakr who he was related to and was appointed Iraqi vice-president and head of security services. Roger Morris, who worked for the state department during the Johnson and Nixon administrations commented about Saddam’s recruitment by the CIA, “There’s no question-it was there in Cairo that (Saddam) and others were first contacted by the agency.” Morris also referred to the coup of 1968 and the eventual handing over of power to Saddam in 1979 during President Carter’s administration that, “It’s a regime that was unquestionably mid-wived by the the United States, and the CIA’s involvement.”
The mercenary Saddam is encouraged to attack Iran in 1980.
During the Eisenhower administration, the democratically elected government of Iran was overthrown in 1953 by British and U.S. intelligence services and power was then handed over to the Shah who was the head of the Iranian royal family. The Shah’s brutal dictatorship subsequently led to the privatization and handing over of Iran’s oil industry to the U.S. Standard and British-Dutch Shell oil companies. President Carter’s continued political and militarysupport for this repressive dictatorship in Iran finally came to an end with the Islamic revolution of 1979 where the pent-up anger of the Iranian people turned against the Shah and the U.S. This revolution was led by the Islamic Mullahs who created a religious government that exists to this day. American policy under President Carter now attempted to once again overthrow the Iranian government and place the hated Shah back in power. In 1980, the U.S. armed and encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in order to eliminate their Islamic government, re-install the Shah and bring Iran’s oil resources back under the control of U.S. and British oil companies. Then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig, wrote a document for President Reagan that stated, “It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran.” This unnecessary war between Iraq and Iran eventually lasted 8 years and left an estimated 1 million dead on both sides. Through another agreement with Saddam, the Reagan administration provided him and Iraq with military weapons, satellite photos, technology to build chemical and biological weapons, and computer software in order to attack the Iranians with, and which also enabled Saddam to maintain power by tracking down anyone who opposed him. All of this military assistance to Iraq was agreed to in a meeting held in December of 1983 between Reagan’s envoy to the Middle East Donald Rumsfeld and its U.S. paid errand-boy Saddam Hussein. In 1986, President H.W. Bush urged Saddam to strike Iran harder by bombing their civilian neighborhoods and provided Iraq with even deadlier chemical weapons to attack Iranian soldiers with. These type of horrendous weapons had previously been banned internationally and the illegal use of them by the U.S. and Iraqis killed tens of thousands of Iranians. Saddam also used these horrible chemical weapons to murder pro-democracy Iraqi Shiites and Kurds who opposed his brutal rule. Despite Iraq’s inability to defeat Iran, the unspoken reward that had been promised to Saddam for his loyalty and cooperation in attacking that country and attempting to militarily overthrow its Islamic government was neighboring Kuwait. The Iraqis had long claimed Kuwait as part of their original territory that had been taken away by the British when they had previously controlled Iraq as a colony.
Kuwait: the first U.S. war against Saddam and Iraq.
After consulting with U.S. President H.W. Bush in 1990, Saddam was told by the State Department that the U.S. had, “no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait.”, and following up on this, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” For the Iraqi leader, this was taken as a green light to invade Kuwait as a just reward for having helped the U.S. by invading Iran. After taking over his supposed prize and lost province of Kuwait, the U.S. and its employee Saddam had a falling out over Kuwait’s oilresources. Thus, President Bush the first, who had supported his ally Saddam Hussein financially and militarily in the attack on Iran, now abruptly turned on Saddam and prepared for an attack on Iraqi forces who were no longer considered useful allies. In the ensuing battles, the Iraqi army was quickly bloodied and forced to retreat from Kuwait. The U.S now self-righteously proclaimed to the world that it had fought to defend a helpless Kuwait from the invading tyrant Saddam Hussein. On the other hand, Saddam felt that he had been stabbed in the back and betrayed by his U.S. financial and military benefactor who he had served well since the 1950′s.
The neo-conservatives create a plan for a global American empire.
Extreme right-wing neo-conservatives established a Washington-based think tank in 1997 which they named “The Project for the New American Century”, or PNAC for short. Their work and agitation was for one fundamental demand and goal which is the establishment of a global American empire that dominates the rest of the world’s nations. These neo-cons believed that with the fall of the SovietUnion, the U.S. was now the remaining superpower and should use its military and economic force to bring the rest of the world under a new U.S. dominated world socio-economic order and Pax Americana. The PNAC clearly laid out their views that American military, economic and political hegemony was needed throughout the world. The neo-con ideology was stated in a PNAC White Paper that was published in September of 2000 entitled, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New century.” This PNAC ideology declares what is required in order for the U.S. to create a global empire: “Place permanent military bases in Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East; increase defense spending to close to 4% of gross domestic product in order to modernize all U.S. armed forces; develop a global missile defense system and a domination of space; and take control of international cyberspace”. This document also describes the “Core Missions” of the U.S. which are to “fight and decisively win multiple wars.” and to “perform the constabulary duties in critical regions to shape the security environment.” To implement this plan according to the neo-con PNAC, the U.S. must fight wars and establish American dominance for the world to see. For many under-developed and third-world countries struggling to assert their economic and political independence, this anti-democratic declaration only meant more U.S. intervention and a further stunting of their development.
The neo-cons begin their attack on the so-called “Axis of Evil”.
The men who created the PNAC plan would now have their chance to carry it out with the controversial “election” of George W. Bush in 2000 and the attacks of September 11, 2001. President Bush’s cabinet which included Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and defense officials Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and brother Jeb Bush, were all neo-cons and founding members of the PNAC. With Bush as president, his neo-con advisers now set out to implement thisimperialistic PNAC plan for world domination. They created a list of enemies which they named the “Axis of Evil” that was comprised of North Korea, Iran and Iraq, and a second tier of enemies consisting of Syria, Afghanistan, Cuba and Libya. The neo-cons viewed these countries as military targets to be attacked and their governments overthrown. Once this was accomplished, new and obedient leaders were to be installed. The attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 facilitated this aggressive and imperialistic policy. George Bush’s advisers went to great lengths to distort the facts in order to tie the Saudi Arabian attackers of 9-11, to the Taliban in Afghanistan who had been created, organized and paid by the U.S., and to the ex-American employee Saddam. Government propaganda and disinformation were fabricated to falsely link Saddam to Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, and to his supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction. According to the neo-con script used by Bush’s officials for public consumption, these deadly weapons were ready to be unleashed upon the U.S. by Saddam at any moment. The American media machine enthusiastically supported this disinformation and promoted it widely to the public. In reality, Saddam hated Bin Laden and had killed off most of the followers of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and had nothing to do with the attacks of 9-11. Aware that they were on the “Axis of Evil” hit-list, North Korea and Iran moved quickly to strengthen their military forces and develop a nuclear weapons program. Therefore, Afghanistan and Iraq were then chosen for attack by the neo-cons as their military situation was much weaker. In addition, Iraq’s immense government-run oil resources were to be privatized and handed over to “friendly” U.S. and British oil companies as had been done in Iran during the Shah’s regime. United Nations representatives and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors publicly declared to the whole world that after 18 months of systematic inspections that there was no evidence in Iraq of any chemical or weapons of mass destruction. These findings were substantiated by U.S. allies such as France and Germany who warned the U.S. to stop its impending and illogical invasion that was being prepared against Iraq. President Obama, who was a fierce opponent of the war at the time called it “dumb” and “rash”. By 2003, President Bush and his neo-con cabinet now believed that the majority of the U.S. public had been won over to his widespread lie of existing WMD and gave the military the green light to invade despite this being a violation of international law. The swift attack and invasion of Iraq and the subsequent military occupation and fighting, would continue for over 8 years. Soon after his capture, a now discarded Saddam was quickly tried and found guilty by U.S. selected judges in a closed trial and hanged. An open and prolonged trial of Hussein would have brought out all of his sordid relationships with the U.S. and his role as a paid thug who had been on the CIA payroll since the 1950′s. Since he was no longer a useful tool and knew too much, Saddam had to be quickly silenced and eliminated. Neither weapons of mass destruction nor any Saddam connection to Bin Laden, who was also an ex-U.S. employee in Afghanistan during the 1980′s, were ever found.
The role of the U.S. corporate media in promoting the war.
The gigantic U.S. media machine in the form of Fox News, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, ABC and the majority of the press, must accept the responsibility for uncritically promoting the nationalistic-chauvinism and war hysteria disguised as “patriotism”, that led up to the invasion of Iraq. Not one of the major corporate-controlled media stations questioned the propaganda and disinformation beingconsciously fed to them by Bush and his cabinet. As active collaborators in this rush to war, the media machine continued to pump out lies and played a major role in contributing to the emotional and militaristic frenzy for an Iraqi invasion as this helped their ratings, advertisers and profits. What is unfortunate is that the majority of the public was gullible enough to believe this big lie and irrational call for violence and war that was disseminated by these unprincipled politicians and media hucksters. For the public to be deceived so easily by this nationalistic propaganda and warmongering disinformation, and to not to question nor admit it, is indeed scary. Unfortunately, this does not bode well ethically for our society.
The cost of the second Iraq war in terms of lives, money and morality.
This eight-year long war and occupation that was waged on false pretenses by this small group of neo-cons who had taken control of the Pentagon and military produced horrific results. Close to one trillion dollars of taxpayers’ funds has been spent on Iraq through 2011, while $9 billion of this amount has been supposedly “lost” or unaccounted for. Another $6.6 billion designated for Iraqi reconstruction has also been “lost” or reported stolen which constitutes the largest outright theft of funds in U.S. history. Close to $2 billion was paid for services in Iraq to Halliburton or its KBR division. These are corporations tied to neo-con Dick Cheney who as Vice-president profited handsomely from this orchestrated violence against the Iraqi people. This amount also included overcharges and other questionable charges paid to these Dick Cheney “favored” companies. Another disastrous loss to taxpayers, but which profited U.S. contractors and others, was close to $2 billionworth of “lost and missing” tractors, vehicles, spare parts and 190,000 guns which included 110,000 AK-47 rifles. An additional cost to taxpayers for air-conditioning was close to $20 billion. A recent report from the group, Iraq Body Count, listed a total of 162,000 Iraqi deaths from this military misadventure of which 114,00 were civilians and children. U.S. deaths totaled 4,486 with 32,226 being seriously wounded and who will require medical attention for years to come due to the loss of limbs, psychological problems and unemployment. These long-term benefits connected to the deaths and injuries of U.S. soldiers and the traumatic and disruptive effects on their families could raise the cost of this war by an additional trillion dollars over time. The dismal lack of schools, housing, healthcare, drinking water and electricity in Iraq is now at a much lower level than before the U.S. invasion and has been worsened by the corrupt and failed U.S. reconstruction program. Meanwhile, much of the money used to finance this long and expensive war was borrowed from China and is now part of the almost $2 trillion and accrued interest owed by U.S. taxpayers to that country who use these funds to peacefully develop their booming economy. To keep this in context, this trillion dollars that was wasted in this Iraqi debacle was money drained away from our much-needed schools, health care, housing and other needed social services. If we add the recent real estate bubble and banking scandal and bailout, the working people of our country have been squeezed economically and had their standard of living drastically lowered.
For former President Bush and his neo-con clique who profited handsomely from this consciously planned violence in Iraq, we only hear silence and denial in regard to their immoral and deadly role in this tragic event that destroyed and transformed so many lives.
A glorious sacrifice or a historical, moral and human rights disaster?
The U.S. involvement in the Korean war which is called the “forgotten war”, along with the 21-year long military intervention in Vietnam and the rest of Indo-China, have been enveloped in a long-standing moral and historical denial that has resulted in leaving these events vague, confusing and devoid of facts. This results in intentionally avoiding any factual discussion and objective evaluation of the causes and effects of these conflicts whose outcomes generally turned out badly for the U.S. Added to this list of past debacles are: the military intervention and deaths of close to 300 Marines in Lebanon during the 1980′s, the invasions of Grenada and Panama, and the deadly mishap encountered by U.S. troops in Somalia and now Iraq. These events continue to be covered over as this cloak of denial glosses over the historical lessons that need to be learned from thesemilitary disasters and loss of lives. Politicians need to be held accountable such as Secretary of State Colin Powell who stood before the United Nations in 2002 and stated untruthfully that there was clear evidence that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, while Vice-President Dick Cheney publicly stated that there was”no doubt” that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons that were ready to be used against the U.S. All of this dishonest role-playing was not a mistake, but rather a consciously organized and blatant set of lies to mislead the public and wage a war of aggression that turned into a human rights disaster. Morally, this was a criminal act that was perpetuated on both Americans and Iraqis by these neo-cons who are now living comfortably from the profits gained from this destructive event. This war was not a glorious crusade for freedom and democracy as declared by the spin doctors of patriotic fairy tales. Rather, it will be judged and condemned by historians and the world as a tragic and immoral chapter in U.S. history. There are just and unjust wars, and the Iraqi war was definitely an unjust one. While not everyone was taken in by these lies in 2003, we must not allow the cause of this war and the harm that it inflicted on people’s lives to once again be side-stepped and glossed over with a cover of nationalist denial. For an objective evaluation of this war, we need to analyze the facts and have a national dialogue where people honestly ask the hard and necessary questions such as how did the majority of the public become so easily deceived by these opportunists; also, was this destructive war worth the effort, and how do we prevent this from happening again? Also, what is the attitude of the Iraqi people after all of these years of American interference in their affairs? Today, the neo-cons and majority of Republicans still believe that this war was just and have publicly demanded that U.S. troops stay in Iraq! With the end of the war, Iran is now being lined up as the next supposed enemy to be attacked. The level of fear and warmongering by government officials and the media about supposed Iranian nuclear weapons and the need to “take action” is already accelerating. U.S. policy toward Iran has been antagonistic and militarily hostile since the 1950′s and it is time to decrease the aggressive rhetoric and sit down and negotiate differences in a civilized manner. We cannot allow concepts such as freedom and democracy to be used dishonestly by politicians along with their boogeyman threats that are veiled in an opportunistic use of patriotism to once again lead us into the next war. Someone said that the best way to fight terrorism, win friends and establish peace, is by promoting justice. The country should heed this advice.