The Iraq war: 10 years on

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

20 March 2013


20 March 2003 to 18 December 2011

On 15 and 16 February 2003 in the biggest coordinated public protest in history up to 30 million people in up to 60 countries  demonstrated against the threatened invasion of Iraq by the US and Britain.

The leaders of the United States and Britain, George W. Bush (US President 2001-2009) and Anthony Blair (UK Prime Minister 1997-2007), ignored the protest.

They also by-passed the United Nations when it failed to sanction the invasion, UN approval being necessary to make the invasion legal under international law

Ten years ago today the United States and Britain began the bombardment, invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The initial excuse for initiating the war was to prevent Iraq unleashing its weapons of mass destruction against the west.

After the invasion, however, it was became clear that Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.

So what were the invaders to say now?

Having occupied Iraq at great financial cost, they were  certainly not going to pull out, no matter that the excuse that they had given for going in in the first place did not hold water.

So they invented another justification, that is to say, they minted a new excuse for the invasion – after the invasion had taken place.

This was that the war had been started to bring peace and freedom to the people of Iraq.

How then did the importation of freedom to Iraq turn out.?

Well, all that happened, in practice, was that the Shia dictator Nour al-Maliki replaced the Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.

And what about bringing peace to Iraq?

Well, sad to say, violence on an incalculable scale has continued unabated since the war started on 20 March 2003, including the period since it officially ended on 18 December  2011.

Only yesterday, on 19 March 2013, in an attack clearly designed to mark the tenth anniversary of the start of the war, at least 65 people died and 240 were injured in a series of explosions in the Iraqi capital Baghdad aimed at destabilising the al-Maliki government.

What were the real aims of the western attack on Iraq?

Obviously, opinions differ, depending on one’s assessment of the evidence.

However, it is possible to argue at least that the real aims of the war included:

1. turning Iraq, a country with a strategic location in the heart of the Middle East,  into a docile US satellite state hosting US bases capable of reacting rapidly to quash any threat to western interests in the region –  not least popular uprisings in the various medieval Middle East sheikhdoms allied to the west.

Was this achieved?

Not at all. The Americans were kicked out of Iraq on 18 December 2011. Their request to leave US military bases on Iraqi soil was flatly rejected by an ungrateful Iraqi government.  Even worse, al-Maliki’s Shia government allied itself lickety-split with America’s No 1 enemy, the neighbouring Shia state of Iran, a country allegedly on the brink of developing nuclear weapons.

2. protecting the export of oil from Iraq to the west. Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary from 2001 to 2006, is reputed, perhaps apocryphally, to have said: “It’s not our fault if America’s oil lies buried under the sands of the Middle East.”

Was this achieved?

American oil companies have certainly been bidding for participation in the development of Iraq’s oilfields. However, the internecine warfare that, despite 10 years of strife, is still tearing the country apart has seriously impeded Iraqi oil production.

What was achieved then?

1. Up to one million unnecessary deaths, perhaps three million other casualties and an estimated five million people displaced from their homes or driven into exile.

2. A financial outlay – still not definitive – of one, two or three trillion US dollars, depending on which estimate you believe.

3.. The myth of  American  military invincibility has been punctured yet again,  the  previous US defeat in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) having taught them nothing.  Western prestige and western trade have suffered immeasurably as a result.

4. Since the start of the Iraq war, American and British citizens anywhere in the world have been – and still are – sitting targets for assassination by Islamists out to revenge the invasion.

To conclude, then, let’s raise a glass to the two guys without whose zealous pursuit of western aggrandisement this war would never have taken place.




 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


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