Saturday, March 25, 2023

20 years since the War in Iraq — An imperialist crime

By Nikos Mottas.

The 20th March 2023 marked the twentieth anniversary since the imperialist invasion of the U.S, Britain and their allies in Iraq.

Back then, the so-called “Iraqi Freedom” operation, initiated by the U.S government under George W. Bush, was an advanced sequel of the first imperialist war in Iraq in 1990-91, within the framework of the Gulf War. The aim was the same: The strengthening of the position of the U.S monopolies in the geostrategically significant region of the Middle East

It is not a coincidence that in 1997, the notorious Zbigniew Brzezinski was writing in his work “The Grand Chessboard”: Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played ... In that context, how America "manages" Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe's largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. About 75 percent of the world's people live in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about 60 percent of the world's GNP and about three fourths of the world's known energy resources... FOR AMERICA, THE CHIEF geopolitical prize is Eurasia”.

Since the mid-1990s, the region of the “broader Middle East” was the major focus point of U.S. foreign policy, within the context of the inter-imperialist competition with other powers, including the EU, Russia and China. The September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks and the rise of Al-Qaeda jihadist group, provided the necessary alibi for the U.S administration to launch its new strategy, initiating the so-called “war against terrorism” by defining the “axis of evil” which included Iran and Iraq. Towards this direction, the Bush administration had the loyal support of the British government under Tony Blair, as well as the conservative governments of Spain and Italy.

However, the beginning of every imperialist war needs a pretext. In the case of Iraq, US and Britain falsely asserted that Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction”. On February 2003, during a presentation at the U.N Security Council, the then U.S Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to justify the military invasion by claiming that Iraq's government indeed had in its possession WMD. Two years later, in 2005, CIA's top weapons inspector admitted that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction had “gone as far as feasible” but nothing had been found.

The U.S invasion in Iraq marked an escalation of imperialist aggression that followed the counterrevolutionary events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The military attack, which began on March 2003, initially had rapid results in achieving key operational objectives. On 9 April 2003 Baghdad had been captured by the U.S forces and on 1 May President George W. Bush delivered a nationally televised “Mission Accomplished” speech declaring the end of major combat operations and the defeat of Iraq's conventional military forces. Shortly after, L. Paul Bremer was appointed chief of the so-called “Coalition Provisional Authority” in the occupied by the U.S army territory. Saddam Hussein himself was captured on 13 December 2003 near Tikrit; he was imprisoned and condemned to death in 2006 following a mock trial by the U.S-created “Iraqi Interim Government”. 

Since the beginning of the U.S military invasion in 2003 and throughout the occupation of the country, the Iraqi people suffered massacres, war crimes and destruction. More than 650,000 people were killed between 2003 and 2006 according to a survey by The Lancet medical journal. Nonetheless, the number of direct and indirect deaths, as a consequence of the war from 2003 to 2014, is considered to be as high as 2 million. By the end of 2015, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.4 million Iraqis had been internally displaced. Between 2006 and 2008 a civil war took place as a result of sectarian tensions fueled by the U.S presence.

In many cases, U.S soldiers committed atrocities against the local population, including murders, rapes, beatings, electrocution, mock executions and looting. Prisons like Abu Ghraib turned into notorious torture camps with a record in human rights violations.

In 2011, the U.S government withdrew its military forces from Iraq, but in June 2014 President Barack Obama announced the return of U.S forces as part of Operation “Inherent Resolve”. The pretext for this decision was the northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State (ISIS), which had previously a significant contribution in the insurgence against the Bashar Al-Assad government in Syria.

It must be noted that both the activity of  Al-Qaeda and ISIS were used as a pretext by the U.S and EU for a series of imperialist interventions in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The relations between such jihadist groups and U.S intelligence services go back to the 1980s, when the Mujahedin were actively supported  by the U.S in their war against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. From 1979 to 1992, the United States provided billion worth of financial assistance and weapons to the Mujahedin through Pakistan's intelligence services and Osama Bin Laden himself was trained by U.S Special Forces commandos. Many years later, in 2013, U.S Senator John McCain was secretly meeting with ISIS members, including prominent leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria.

The Iraq War was a heinous imperialist crime, one of the many committed by the United States government and its allies. By the end of 2022, only 900 U.S soldiers had remained in the country, but the people of Iraq are still paying the tragic consequences of the war. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the imperialist intervention, including former U.S President George W. Bush, former U.S Vice President Dick Cheney and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were never brought to justice for their crimes.

* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.