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Fifteen things about the 15th Anniversary of the US Invasion/Occupation of Iraq

March 18, 2018

In some ways it is hard to believe that 15 years has already passed, since the US militarily invaded and occupied Iraq. Fifteen years ago there was non-stop coverage of the invasion and occupation, but Iraq has faded from the news cycle for years now and is generally viewed as an outpost for the terrorist organization known as ISIS.

US news media generally fails to provide adequate contextual information about US foreign policy and for most Americans Iraq continues to be framed through whatever the US State Department has to say about it.

Here are fifteen things we think are important to know about the US and Iraq over the past 100 years.

  1. Iraq was essentially a creation of European Colonialism, with the British drawing the borders and suppressing numerous attempts for Arab and Kurdish self-determination throughout most of the first half of the twentieth century.
  2. European and US interest in Iraq has always been about oil, especially after WWII, when the US realized that in order to expand it’s global dominance, they needed to secure Iraq’s oil and other oil reserves in the region. This reliance on and control of Middle Eastern oil has been the formal policy of the US since WWII, as is well documented in the film Blood and Oil, featuring historian and author Michael Klare. 
  3. Beginning in the late 1950s, the CIA began to support the Ba’athist Party, in order to destabilize the region enough that would benefit US interests. This support of the Ba’athists, included support for Saddam Hussein.
  4. The US was providing weapons to both Iran and Iraq, during the war between those two countries that lasted for most of the 1980s. The US even supplied Iraq with chemical weapons that were used against Iran and the Kurds. Declassified US documents show that in 1983, Donald Rumsfeld was the Reagan Administration’s connection to supply WMDs to Iraq. 
  5. The US War in the Persian Gulf was an opportunity for the US to flex it’s military muscles at a time when the Soviet Union was imploding (1990-91). The US destroyed much of Iraq’s infrastructure, killed thousands of Iraqis through aerial bombing and used Depleted Uranium in the bombs, which has resulted in death and sickness for Iraqis and US soldiers who fought in that imperialist war.
  6. After the Gulf War, the US imposed the harshest sanctions on any country ever, resulting in the deaths of at least 500,000 Iraqi children between 1991 and 1998 (during the Clinton Administration). While being interviewed on 60 Minutes, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says 500,000 dead Iraqi Children was “worth it.”

  7. In the lead up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the US government lied about Iraq’s WMDs. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell has since admitted that the administration lied about this, especially during the Powell’s February 5th, 2003 presentation before the UN Security Council. See declassified documents
  8. The US Invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003 and it’s ongoing occupation resulted in at least 1 million dead Iraqis through 2008, even though that number was usually suppressed in the US media. However, the number is now estimated to be 2.4 million dead Iraqis
  9. The US government used the invasion/occupation of Iraq to rewrite the Iraqi Constitution, allowing multination corporations and oil companies free reign to exploit Iraq’s resources. See Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.
  10. The US Media coverage of the invasion/occupation primarily echoed the government’s position, with little critical inquiry into US policy. The Center for Public Integrity put together a list of 935 lies by the Bush administration about the war.  GRIID also created a video and a report about Grand Rapids media coverage of the early months of the US invasion/occupation of Iraq.
  11. There was a tremendous amount of anti-war organizing against the US invasion/occupation of Iraq from 2002 – 2008. There were numerous groups involved, some more moderate and some more radical. For a great summary of the anti-war organizing see what Media Mouse wrote in 2008.  Here is video of an anti-Iraq war protest at the home of Congressman Ehlers. 
  12. The US invasion/occupation of Iraq provided the US to increase it’s military presence in the region and the construction of numerous US military bases in Iraq for geo-political and resource extraction purposes.
  13. The US invasion/occupation of Iraq saw the largest use of private mercenary forces, like Dyncorp and Blackwater, which was founded by Erik Prince, the brother of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Blackwater won millions of dollars in US contracts for its mercenary efforts in Iraq, which involved the murder of 17 Iraqi civilians. Erik Prince was never indicted for those war crimes.
  14. The cost of the US invasion/occupation of Iraq is ongoing. According to the National Priorities Project, the US invasion/occupation of Iraq has cost over $800 billion to US taxpayers. Imagine what people could do with that amount of money if it went for things like affordable housing, health care, education, etc.
  15. The current destabilization in Iraq is often laid at the feet of ISIS. However, as longtime journalist Patrick Cockburn, author of the book, The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East, the US was in many ways responsible for the creation of ISIS. Here is an excellent interview with Cockburn. In addition, the real culprit of Iraq’s destabilization and ongoing violence is rooted in the US military invasion/occupation that has devastated the country. The Bush administration began a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in 2008, which continued under the Obama administration with withdrawal of US troops not completed until the end of 2011. However, the SOFA agreement did not end the use of private military contractors, which has continued in Iraq.

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