Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1141, 28 March - 3 April 2013
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1141, 28 March - 3 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

The sociocide of Iraq

Over one million Iraqis died and the country is now in ruins as a result of the 2003 US-led invasion, writes Ralph Nader

Al-Ahram Weekly

Ten years ago former US president George W Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, as war criminals, launched the sociocide of the people of Iraq, replete with embedded television and newspaper reporters chronicling the US-led invasion of the country through the Bush lens. That illegal war of aggression was, of course, based on recognised lies, propaganda and cover-ups that duped or co-opted leading US news institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Wars of aggression — this one blowing apart a country of 25 million people ruled by a weakened despot surrounded by far more powerful adversaries like Israel, Turkey and Iran — are major crimes under international law and the UN charter. The Bush/Cheney war was also unconstitutional and was never declared by the US congress, as senator Robert Byrd eloquently pointed out at the time. Moreover, many of the acts of torture and brutality perpetrated against the Iraqi people were illegal under various US federal statutes.

Over one million Iraqis died due to the invasion, the occupation and the denial of health and safety necessities for infants, children and adults. Far more Iraqis were injured and sickened. Birth defects and cancers continue to set lethal records. Five million Iraqis became refugees, many fleeing into Jordan, Syria and other countries.

Nearly 5,000 US soldiers died. Many others committed suicide. Well over 150,000 Americans were injured or sickened, far more than the official Pentagon under-estimate, which restricts non-fatal casualty counts only to those incurred directly in the line of fire.

So far the Iraq war has cost US taxpayers about $2 trillion. Tens of billions more will be spent for veterans’ disabilities and continuing expenses in Iraq. US taxpayers are paying over $600 million a year to guard the giant US embassy and its personnel in Baghdad, more than what the US government spends on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whose task is to reduce the number of American workers who die every year from workplace disease and trauma, currently about 58,000.

All for what results? Before the invasion there was no Al-Qaeda in Saddam Hussein’s secular dictatorship. Now a growing group, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, is terrorising the country with ever bolder car bombings and suicide attacks that are taking dozens of lives at a time and are spilling forcefully over into Syria.

Iraq is a police state with sectarian struggles now commonplace between the dominant Shiites and the insurgent Sunnis who lived together peacefully and intermarried for centuries. There were no sectarian slaughters of this kind before the US-led invasion, except for Saddam’s bloodbath against rebellious Shias egged on by former US president George H W Bush, who promptly abandoned them to the deadly strafing of Saddam’s helicopter gunships at the end of the preventable first Gulf War in 1991.

Iraq is now a country in ruins, with a political and wealthy upper class raking off the profits from the oil industry and the occupation. The US is now widely hated in that part of Asia. Bush/Cheney ordered the use of cluster bombs, white phosphorous and depleted uranium against, for example, the people of Fallujah, where infant birth deformities have skyrocketed.

As Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-American analyst, has observed, the “complete destruction of the Iraqi national identity” and the sectarian system introduced by the US invaders in 2003, where Iraqis were favoured or excluded based on their sectarian and ethnic affiliations, laid the basis for the current chaos and violence. It was a nasty, brutish form of divide and rule.

The results in the US have been soldiers and their extended families suffering in many ways from broken lives. US journalist Phil Donahue’s gripping documentary Body of War follows the pain-wracked life of one soldier returning in 2004 from Iraq as a paraplegic. That soldier, Tomas Young, nearing the end of his devastated life, has just written a penetrating letter to George W Bush which every American should read.

The lessons from this unnecessary quagmire should be: first, how to stop any more wars of aggression by the Washington warmongers — the same neo-con draft-dodgers are at it again regarding Iran and Syria — and second, the necessity to hold accountable the leading perpetrators of this brutal carnage and financial wreckage who are presently still at large — fugitives from justice earning fat lecture and consulting fees.

In the nine months running up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, at least 300 prominent, retired military officers, diplomats and national security officials in the US publicly spoke out against the Bush/Cheney drumbeats to war. Their warnings were prophetically accurate. They included retired US generals Anthony Zinni and William Odom and Admiral Shanahan. Even Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, two of president George H W Bush’s closest advisors, strongly opposed the invasion.

These outspoken truth-sayers — notwithstanding their prestige and experience — were overwhelmed by a runaway White House, a disgraceful patsy mainstream media and an abdicatory congress. Multi-billionaire George Soros was also courageously outspoken. Unfortunately, prior to the invasion, he did not provide a budget and secretariat for these men and women to provide continuity and to multiply their numbers around the country, through the mass media and on Capitol Hill. By the time he came around to organising and publicising such an effort, it was after the invasion in July 2003.

Had he done so nine months earlier, I believe Soros could have provided the necessary resources to stop Bush/Cheney and their lies from stampeding the US government, and country, into war. Soros can still build grassroots pressure for the exercise of the rule of law under the US constitution and move congress towards public hearings in the senate designed to establish an investigative arm of the Justice Department to pursue proper enforcement against Bush/Cheney and their accomplices.

After all, the Justice Department had such a special prosecutors’ office during the Watergate scandal and was moving to indict a resigned Richard Nixon before president Ford pardoned him.

Compare the Watergate break-in and obstruction of justice by Nixon with the horrendous crimes coming out of the war against Iraq — a nation that never threatened the US but whose destruction takes a continuing toll on the country.


The writer is an American political activist, lecturer, attorney and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us.

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