Revisiting the Wrongful Invasion of Iraq
Somewhere on a ranch in Texas, George Walker Bush, born on July 6, 1946, is probably hobbling on a phony, or, if he has any conscience remaining in his lean frame, reflecting on the calamity of his decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
Bush was the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. He is also the eldest son of Barbara and George Herbert Walker Bush. The latter Bush was also the 41st American President from 1989 to 1993. Both have the distinction of having ordered the invasion of the same country – Iraq for different reasons.
In 1990 when Bush Senior invaded Iraq, he did so with the backing of a coalition of other nations and the approval of the United Nations (UN). He could also point at the naked aggression exhibited when Saddam Hussein invaded and temporarily annexed parts of Kuwait. Even in the hypocritical international system of the day, he could claim the invasion was for the liberation of the sovereign nation of Kuwait. The United States, unlike today, was still viewed in many quarters at the time as the leader of the so-called “free world”.
But the subsequent invasion of the same nation by Bush Junior, barely three years afterwards, was a crime, no matter how it is viewed under international law. First, it was never sanctioned by the UN. Second, unlike the earlier invasion, it did not enjoy the broad support of the International community apart from Britain and its lackeys. Jacques Chirac, the French President at the time, openly lampooned the case advanced for the war. France was, and is still an important member of NATO.
Third, the logic for the war was weak. Saddam appeared to have learnt his lessons from the previous invasion. There was no proven case of aggression against him this time. Fourth, the critical intelligence that seemingly justified the American position proved to be false. IRAQ HAD NO STOCKPILES OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (WMD)!
In a move that openly suggested the admission of his own part in the farce, Bush’s Secretary of State General Collin Powell subsequently resigned from his position. Years later, Tony Blair, who was the British Prime Minister at the time who sold the lie of Saddam’s stockpiles of WMD to the British Public, offered a tearful apology for his role at a crowded news conference in London. But the world is yet to hear from the principal culprit himself – G. W. Bush for the tragic decision from which the world, including Nigeria, is still reeling.
But even if he fails to utter a word before he passes away, like all mortals will surely do, at the time and moment of God’s chosen, it will not hide the facts which the whole world already knows: his major ‘crimes’ included the misinterpretation and misuse of intelligence on Iraq’s WMD capability, unwillingness to give WMD inspectors appointed by the UN time to conclude their work, peremptory diplomacy that damaged the Atlantic Alliance (the same now appears to be occurring under Trump), and failure to properly anticipate what would happen in post-conflict Iraq or even how to manage it.
As it were, the invasion negatively impacted on the delicate Shia-Sunni relationships in Iraq and beyond. The Iraqi Kurds also seized the opportunity to raise the ante in their demand for self-determination. The conflict of forces between the three predictably weakened the Central Government in Bagdad, and the rest, as it is often said, is now history.
Not for the last time in its history, America it seemed, failed to learn from the lessons of Vietnam and its war on the Korean peninsula a fall-out from which now also threatens world peace in the form of the events in North Korea. They expected to be welcomed with roses in Iraq, but instead met a hail of bullets. Democracy, and the American way of life cannot be rammed down the throats of people who have lived under autocratic systems for centuries.
Instructively, while neighboring Iran has developed a democratic system of governing itself since the 1979 Islamic revolution, it remains at odds with the United States, which advocates the same system for countries of the same region. It recognizes Israeli as the only democratic government in the region a position contradicted by the recent election in Iran.
Today, it is easy to see why the wrongful invasion of Iraq created ISIS, Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, as well as Boko Haram all of which are allied to it. The attendant unrest in the region also resulted in the Arab spring which failed to meet up to the expectation of its promoters – America stood by and watched the overthrow of the government formed by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which was democratically elected -; and also the balkanization of the once prosperous nation of Libya. Nature, after all, abhors vacuums.
By and large, the staggering cost of the invasion are staggering. According to statistics published by the Brookings Institute’s Iraqi Index, the invasion resulted in 189,000 direct war deaths, which doesn't include the hundreds of thousands more that died due to war-related hardships. The Institute correctly reasoned that most of the non-combatants that perished in the war would not have died if the invasion had not occurred. The invasion also created 2.8 million refugees or persons who remain either internally displaced or have fled the country.
The Brookings Institute also claimed that $1.7 trillion was accrued as war expenses spent by the U.S. Treasury Department by the Fiscal Year 2013. $5,000 was spent per second. It also cost $350,000 to deploy one American military member. $490 billion was also expended on war benefits owed to American veterans. $7 trillion was also projected for interest payments due by 2053 (because the war was paid for with borrowed money). $20 billion was paid to KBR, contractor responsible for equipment and services. $75 billion was equally estimated as the amount to be paid to American subcontracting companies, largest of which Halliburton a company routinely associated with individuals to be close to the Bush family.
The key issue at this point therefore, is that of accountability. Who pays for the war particularly that of its victims? The deliberate actions of too many Third World actors like Charles Taylor, Lawrence Gbagbo and Manuel Noriega did not result in a fraction of the casualties recorded in the Iraqi invasion and its aftermath. George W. Bush will not be hauled before the ICC because the US is not among its signatories.
In a speech delivered by Stephen Rapp, who served as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice at an event a few years ago, he claimed that long-standing political and philosophical traditions in America prevented it from joining the ICC. The most important of these traditions, he claimed, included the belief by Americans that they could better help suffering people than the international community, and that their ability to help others without changing America’s national identity or culture will be threatened by joining an international institution that has its own laws and regulations which come from non-American societies.
Clearly, this is the same arrogance that led to nearly all of America’s wars of intervention and regime change overseas. It is what makes it believe it could enforce homosexuality on other nations while believing it is advocating Human Rights, which, on the basis of the invasion of Iraq and its consequences, is nothing but human ruse!
In last week’s piece, I referred to Ayodele Fayose as the Osun state Governor instead of Ekiti where he holds court. I stand corrected.