Iraq: postwar notes 2 (1 aug 2005)

As we enter the last half of 2005 it's useful to reflect over the spring 2003 invasion of Iraq and its consequences.

It has now become totally clear that the war was deliberately initiated by the US and the UK and sold to the public by a pallette of lies and provocations. Any remaining doubts have been dispelled by the infamous Downing Street Memo of July 2002, which can be read in its entirety here.

As an example, contrast this excerpt from Blair's March 2003 letter to Labour party members:

The Government has taken the decision to use military action to ensure the disarmament of Iraq, not because we have any quarrel with the people of Iraq - in fact they have suffered more than anyone under the tyrannical Iraqi regime. We have done so to enforce the many UN resolutions on Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction which have been passed over the years.

with these excerpts from the Downing Street memo, issued 9 months earlier:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. 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. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record...The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January..

It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran..

We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force...The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors...

We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action...

The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam...

These lines show that rather than enforcing UN resolutions, Bush and Blair were actively manipulating the UN weapons inspections in order to use them as a pretext for their war of aggression, as well as secretly initiating a war of aggression into provoking a response from Saddam ("spikes of activity"). In the event, neither of these strategems worked, so they went to war anyway, more or less according to the predetermined timetable.

As a result of this war, around 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died (see the Lancet study), as well as several thousand invading troops, untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, and some hundreds of civilians in the invading countries (Madrid, London, etc.).

Let's take stock of my comments before the war, and the situation as it looks now. (See the International Tribunal on Iraq for more details).

Before the war, I said:

In Iraq, enforced "regime change" will be followed pretty surely by:

Point 1: There is certainly a very vigorous and murderous "insurgency", which is indeed being brutally suppressed, with widespread use of killings and torture, such as sexual humiliations, etc. However, at the moment, the resistance seems to be more nationalist than overtly Islamic.

Point 2: There is certainly a crisis in infrastructure, especially the electric supply. There is widespread impoverishment and malnutrition, although the general situation is possibly marginally better than at the immediate prewar period, when UN-imposed sanctions had already bitten for 10 years, leading to the deaths of possibly 500,000 Iraqi children (Hans von Sponeck). There have been huge numbers of Iraqi civilian and military casualties (estimated to be around 100,000 of the former).

Point 3: The strong resistance of the Iraqi people and foreign supporters seems to have put further invasion plans on hold for the time being. But the well-justified fear of eventual invasion may have stimulated Iran into an acceleration of its nuclear weapons program.

Point 4: Undeniably and regrettably true. Unfortunately the Madrid and London bombings are probably only the start.

Point 5: Israel has used the war as a cover for construction of its widely condemned "separation wall", well inside the Occupied Territories, which has directly robbed even more land from Palestinians, and is otherwise designed to make life so difficult and humiliating that those who have the option of leaving will not return. Nevertheless direct physical expulsion of large numbers of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories does not seem to be on the cards right now. Israel's current tactics are to use a highly publicized and dramatized withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza strip as a cover for cementing control over a wide area around Jerusalem and choice bits of the West Bank. The remaining areas (Gaza and the rest of the West Bank) are destined to become huge and impoverished prison camps, intersected by checkpoints and security roads. Wait and see - the "world" (i.e. the "free press") will find this completely acceptable and will even praise Israel's magnanimity for the Gaza withdrawal.

Back to the Iraq notes.

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