US Foreign Policy Part 1: IRAQ

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Some overweight, ignorant, Big Mac loving, sympathizers of the Bush Administration will come out with lines like, ‘The world’s a better place without Saddam Hussein’.  Sure they aren’t worried about the legality or validity of the intelligence surrounding ‘Weapons Of Mass Destruction’,  this is America, God’s on our side, remember!  It was seen by some as a noble decision to invade, a great act of liberation for a people at the hands of such a brutal dictator.  A dictator which Donald Rumsfeld was only too happy to meet in 1983.  Rumsfeld’s meeting with Saddam Hussein was significant in that he was meeting with the President of a Country who was at war with Iran (1983-1988) and using chemical weapons on Iranian Soldiers.  Ironically these chemical weapons of ‘MASS DESTRUCTION’ which were destroyed in 1991, were supposedly  the major threat that warranted the US led invasion in 2003.  Where did Saddam get the materials for weapons like these? Wait for it… AMERICA!

It’s funny how American foreign policy can shift so dramatically in the space of two decades.  The US went from supporting the Iraqi Government financially, resourcefully, and on an intelligence basis in 1983, to alerting the ‘free world’ that this rouge government had the capability of using chemical and biological weapons in a way that would gravely threaten the safety of innocent American people. US 5000+ Nuclear Weapons/ Iraq 0 Nuclear weapons, surely you could see their concern, No?

In the months before the invasion, a peace agreement was proposed by Iraqi officials, including the Chief Of The Iraqi Intelligence Service who wanted Washington to know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search; they also offered full support for any US plan in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Centre bombing in 1993.  If this is about oil, they added, they would also talk about US oil concessions.  Washington’s reply was ‘Shock and Awe’ bombing.

UN Chief Inspector at the time Hans Blix who led the hunt for WMD’s said the following later in 2003.

‘Those who are 100 percent certain there are weapons of mass destruction turned out to have less than zero percent knowledge of where the purported hidden caches might be.’  In Feb 2003, Blix is reported to have warned both then British PM Tony Blair and then US Secretary of Defence Condoleezza Rice about the dangers of entering Iraq with a substantial lack of evidence of the presence of WMD’s.

Indeed Hans Blix was not alone in his opposition to such pre-emptive action.  Benjamin B. Ferencz, who served as the U.S.’s Chief Prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, had denounced the Iraq War as an aggressive war (named at Nuremberg as “the supreme international crime”) and stated his belief that George W. Bush as the war’s “initiator”, who should be tried for war crimes.

In a 2002 book, Scott Ritter a Nuclear Weapons Inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998,

he argued against an invasion and expressed doubts about the Bush Administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein had a WMD capability.”

Brent Scowcroft, who served as National Security Adviser to President to George Bush was an early critic. He wrote an August 15, 2002 editorial in The Wall Street Journal entitled “Don’t attack Saddam,” arguing that the war would distract from the broader fight against terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which should be the U.S.’s highest priority in the Middle East.  The next month, Gen. Hugh Selton, former Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff, agreed that war in Iraq would distract from the War on Terrorism.

‘Were supposed to believe that the US would’ve invaded Iraq, if it was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main exports were pickles and lettuce.’ Noam Chomsky

Fifty four countries most notably France, Germany, Russia and China, had all protested formally and officially the prosecution of this war. They opposed the Iraq War in principle, citing in some cases that they believe it is illegal, and in others that it required a United Nations mandate.

Today in 2013, Iraq’s infrastructure is a complete mess.  A 2005 study conducted by the UN stated that 84% of the country’s higher education establishments had been either ‘destroyed, damaged or robbed.’  A health care system once admired by the middle-east has been majorly destroyed and looted.

Hundreds of thousands of professional Iraqis and especially the educated middle class have been displaced in countries including Jordan, Syria and Egypt, many after receiving death threats.  Since 2003, the UN’s World Food Program reported 400,000 children are suffering from Malnutrition, specifically in the deficiency of vital protein.  Thousands of Iraqi’s have lost arms and legs, many of which are because of unexploded US cluster bombs , which become like landmines only to be picked up by unsuspecting children.  I’m sure these children don’t mind their legs being blown off in the name of freedom and democracy, do they?

Kofi Annan was in agreement when it was suggested that some Iraqi’s now view the US occupation of their country as leading to poorer living standards than when it was under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

‘I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi’s life.  If I were an average Iraqi, obviously I would make the same comparison, that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, am I going to see my child again?

Depleted uranium particles that today still remain in the Iraqi skyline, are breathed into human bodies and passed into the water, soil, the blood and the genes, producing malformed babies.  Research by the BBC in 2004 startlingly revealed the level of birth defects among new born babies was said to be 13 times higher than that in Europe.  A BBC correspondent reported seeing children with severe unexplained brain damage and one newly born child with 3 heads.  Must just be a coincidence, which doesn’t explain officials in the city of Fallujah (Iraq), warning mothers against having children due to the dangers of birth defects.

So to sum it up, there were no weapons of Mass Destruction.  Fifty four countries officially opposed the war as well as the Head of the UN.  Millions of Iraqi’s are displaced throughout the Arab world.  The countries infrastructure is a complete mess, if you are a new born in  Iraq today, you are 13 times more likely to have a heart defect than if you were born anywhere in Europe.  The estimated cost of new oil contracts to foreign companies is going to cost Iraq economy between $74-$194 billion, as opposed to keeping Iraq’s oil revenue within state hands.  America’s Deadliest export so far aside from all the weapons they sell to allies today, enemies tomorrow?  Going to have to go with Democracy on that one.  God Bless you America…

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IRAQ: A Country In Ruin.

Iraq war victim

As former president George Bush sheds a tear at the opening of the Presidential Library earlier in the week,  Real News 365 examines the consequences of the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Below are some of the devastating side effects of a war that was based on the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which to this day have not been found.

DEATH TOLL:

The precise death figure toll is unclear.  According to The British polling firm Opinion Research Business (ORB) the estimated death count is believed to be a minimum of 733,158 to a maximum of 1,446,063.  The Iraq Body Count IBC, believes that the number of civilians who have lost their lives in the war is estimated to be in excess of 114,000.  More shockingly, 3,951 have been children under the age of 18.  Of the 4,040 civilian victims killed by the US led collation force, 1,201 were also children.  A worryingly high statistic that would give creditability to the criticism of the US-collation forces as being trigger happy.

REFUGEE DISPLACEMENT:

Since the beginning the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003,  it is estimated that the number of Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen to 2.8 million.  The majority had fled to neighbouring countries such as Syria and Jordon.  With the current conflict in Syria, Iraqi refuges, have been hurled from one battleground to another.  January 2011 saw the announcement of the Iraqi government, to address internal displacement issues, since then however, little has been done in relation to the tens of thousands living in temporary shelter.  Limited access to clean water and food is especially testing for the children affected in the war.  Post tramatic stress is high, espically in kids. According to the BBC, there are only 3 child psychologists in the entire country of Iraq.  Statistics like that makes one question the carelessness of response by the newly formed Iraq government. There seems to be a clear lack of investment in the development of the health sector in Iraq.

THREAT TO US CO-OPERATERS.

According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).Ten of thousands of Iraqi nationals that risked their lives in collaboration with the US forces have seen the promise of protection and emigration disappear since the US backed out of Iraq in 2011.

In 2008 the US government set up the Special Immigrant Visa Program, which every year was due to provide a number of 5000 visas to nationals that had served the US government.  By the end of 2012 that would mean the number of collaborating Iraqi’s eligible for a visa, would be a total of 25,000.  According to IRC, the number of visas processed has reached 5,550.  The remaining number have been a target for militants in the country, which has seen a rise in the kidnappings and torture of these people.  The Immigrant Visa Program is due to expire in September of 2013, and will undoubtedly leave the lifes of just under 20,000 Iraqi’s in severe doubt.
The decision by the Bush administration is a clear sign that the philosophy of neo-liberalism is clearly alive and well in the western world.  With Iraq being the 3rd largest producer of oil, just behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.  Sanctions that had been initially forced on Saddam Hussein that were due to expire before 2003, left Bush and his allies needing a regime change.  The threat of Saddam changing payment methods from US dollars to Euros, would have cost the US economy trillions of dollars.  The resilience and determination of Iraqi militancy and the lack of support for Western Occupation both in Iraq and in the US, saw the withdrawal of troops in 2011. Unfortunately however new sanctions have been implemented by the US government that have bound the puppet Iraqi government to provide the US with the majority of its oil produce.