13 years after a coalition of Western forces invaded and occupied the sovereign state of Iraq, the world is still waiting for U.S. withdrawal of its troops. We are convinced that U.S. intent is not to “save” Iraqis, but to advance its own imperial agenda.
Government lies fabricated to justify military intervention in Iraq have largely been exposed, but the terrible consequences of endless war on the Middle East contiue to fuel a reactionary battle between Jihad on the one hand and western imperialism on the other.
In the interest of confronting the truth of this and other sordid episodes in U.S. history, Revolution Newspaper publishes “American Crime” as a regular feature of revcom.us.
Case #70: “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” 2003 follows:
THE CRIME: At 10:15 pm on March 19, 2003, George W. Bush announced to the world: “At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”
As Bush spoke, U.S. bombs and missiles were raining on Iraq. Some 160,000 troops–overwhelmingly American–were poised to storm the country by land. Twenty-one days later, after a blitzkrieg-like invasion and some 27,000 bombs, the U.S. had seized control of Iraq’s major cities. Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, had fallen on April 9. Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime had been deposed and the U.S. took control of the country. On May 1, standing on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in front of a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner, Bush declared “major combat operations” were over.
The U.S. government, military, and media portrayed this operation, with its “precision” bombs and missiles, as clean and surgical. The U.S. refused to count or release figures for civilian casualties. Images were widely broadcast picturing Iraqis welcoming the coalition forces as “liberators.”
But in reality, thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and wounded. During the most intense fighting in and around Baghdad, some of its hospitals were flooded with more than a hundred patients an hour. There were many instances of U.S. troops firing on people in cars and trucks. It turned out that U.S. military planners designated certain areas as “kill boxes”–grid-like zones where U.S. pilots were ordered to bomb and fire on anything that moved. In all, Iraq Body Count estimates that some 7,415 Iraqi civilians were killed during the invasion phase of the war in March and April.
But this was only a tiny glimpse of the staggering horrors that would be unleashed by the U.S. invasion, its nine-year occupation, and its aftermath. The U.S. shattered Hussein’s Ba’athist state, and then installed a reactionary, Shi’ite-dominated regime. This unleashed all kinds of reactionary forces battling for a share of power. This included an armed Sunni-based insurgency, Sunni fundamentalist jihadists (which later formed ISIS, or the Islamic State), and Shi’ite militias with backing from Iran. The U.S. has attempted to play these different forces off against each other, and other regional powers have also entered the battle over Iraq’s future.
The net result: the Iraqi people have suffered in unbelievable ways–thanks to the U.S. invasion and occupation, and all the reactionary forces and warfare it unleashed.
The toll has been staggering in its dimensions, its magnitude, and its duration. Iraq Body Count has documented between 168,239 and 187,378 civilian deaths from violence, and total violent deaths including combatants at 251,000 from 2003 through September 2016. Other studies of the direct and indirect toll of the war (due, for example, to the destruction and disruption to water and power systems, health care and food production): 655,000 according to a 2006 Lancet study; 1 million according to a 2008 Opinion Research Business study; and other current estimates reaching 1.2 to 1.4 million. More than 4.2 million Iraqis have been injured and at least 4.5 million have been driven from their homes. Women have suffered terribly, directly from the war and from the new, U.S.-backed government’s imposition of reactionary Sharia law with separate, unequal laws for women.
And this reactionary violence by different Iraqi forces, as well as by the U.S., continues to this day. In October 2016 alone, at least 5,561 people were killed and 2,463 were wounded across Iraq–a heart-rending count that barely merits coverage in the U.S. press. . .