With Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Bush Senior set in motion a pathology of American terrorism that has plagued the Iraqi population for 30 years. Bomb carpet, invasion, no-fly zones, economic war, drone warfare. The aim is to stop Iraq’s rise as a regional hegemon and to plunder its mineral resources without shame. For this power-political calculus, the US destroyed the foundations of an entire country, the cradle of civilization, and killed an average of 250 every day in Iraq for 30 years.
January 17, 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the US war against Iraq. Since January 1991, the United States has been continuously bombing the country on the Euphrates and Tigris, the cradle of civilization, and also using economic war, state terrorism and torture. The Iraq War lasts longer than the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Kosovo War combined, making it the longest internationally fought war since the Thirty Years ' War of 1618. In the following, the story of how the USA got on this murderous wrong path will be outlined.
Complicity in Saddam’s Poison Gas War
In the early 1980s, German companies led by Karl Kolb GmbH placed Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi desert, 60 kilometers northwest of Baghdad on a site of 100 square kilometers, “the most modern and best designed chemical weapons plant in the world at that time”, as a CIA report from 2004 notes. First mustard gas was produced, later sarin, from 1986 the extremely deadly VX. The Halabja massacre of 1988-to this day with up to 5,000 direct deaths the most devastating poison gas attack on civilians of all time – just like Saddam’s genocidal Al-Anfal campaign against the Kurds as a whole would have been unthinkable without German engineering. (The same applies to the construction of Assad’s and Gaddafi’s poison gas programs.) But completely different people were supposed to perish from poison gas from Western production – Saddam’s attempted genocide in Iraqi Kurdistan was “only” the sideshow of a war whose background and intrigues shape the political dynamics in the region to the present day: the Iran-Iraq War, the First Gulf War 1980-88.
After the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 – which was initially carried out by broad social strata in a secular manner and was only later hijacked by Ruhollah Khomeini – swept away the Shah courted by the West, Saddam feared that the revolutionary spark would spread to the likewise oppressed Shiite majority in Iraq and, in the hope of a rapid oil recovery, invaded the Khuzestan region in the west of Iran, under whose soil 80 percent of Iran’s onshore oil reserves lie and which thus became the crown jewel of the iranian economy. Saddam quickly overran large parts of the region, which Iran was able to recapture by 1982. But this was not in the sense of the imperial USA, which as hegemon must, according to the logic of neorealist doctrine, prevent the rise of regional hegemons worldwide – especially in the geopolitically central region of the Persian Gulf. And so it was in Washington’s sense that the two would-be hegemons Iran and Iraq continued to fight each other, rather than one triumphing over the other; Henry Kissinger then: “Too bad that neither can lose.“In addition to West Germany, France, other Western states and the Soviet Union, the USA therefore relied above all on the massive support of the Saddam regime, which had basically already lost the war in 1982.
And so the First Gulf War dragged on for another six years. Comparisons to the First World War were often made, whether its nature was a war of attrition without front – line shifts, trench warfare-and Saddam’s massive use of poison gas. Iranian accusations against Iraqi gas use faded, Tehran was never able to provide the ultimate evidence. The Reagan administration, on the other hand, had this evidence but kept it under wraps – which in itself is already a violation of the Geneva Conventions and thus a war crime – as the journal Foreign Policy discovered, referring to previously released CIA files. Two thirds of all chemical weapons used by Saddam in the Iran-Iraq War were fired in the last 18 months of the war. It was just at this time that Washington began to collaborate not “only” passively but also actively with Saddam in his poison gas massacres: the CIA provided Baghdad with valuable intelligence information on a large scale, such as Iranian troop movements and satellite images, which served to select targets – the US was complicit in the tens of thousands of poison gas murders by Iranian troops. The Halabja massacre also falls into this period of time.
At the end of the Iran-Iraq War there was a military stalemate without any result and up to a million deaths, about three quarters of them on the part of Iran-as well as an Iranian soul deeply traumatized by Saddam’s brutal war of aggression on the one hand and non – existent international solidarity on the other. If you want to fully understand decades of Iranian hostility to the US and mistrust of the West, you have to look at the years 1980-88, when a globally isolated Iran faced a criminal poison gas war made in the West. After the war, Saddam was broke and the donors in the Saudi and Kuwaiti royal houses – who financed the war – wanted to see repayments. But Saddam made a serious mistake.
War must come
The Iraqi war debt amounted to over 100 billion US dollars, which could not be served with a war-torn economy and a historically low world oil price. Saddam demanded from his rich Arab neighbors the cancellation of the debt and constructed unsustainable conflicts over oil production quotas and border flows with his oil-rich dwarf neighbor Kuwait, which resulted in him marching more than 100,000 troops on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border by the summer of 1990. On 25. On July 20, 1990, Saddam Hussein and the US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, met in Baghdad.
Glaspie assured Saddam that the US government had " no opinion on intra-Arab disputes such as its border conflict with Kuwait.” The US Department of Defense also previously stated that the US had “no special defence or security obligations towards Kuwait.” Saddam interpreted these statements as a carte blanche from Washington. Seven days later – on the night of August 2-the Iraqi military invaded Kuwait. In little more than a day, Saddam’s troops overran the country of Thuringia’s size, which was put under a brutal occupation for a total of seven months. The royal family fled the country and Saddam declared Kuwait the 19th Iraqi governorate.
Although Saddam’s raid on Paria Iran and the poison gas massacres could be supported with one million deaths for more than eight years, when Saddam invaded the oil kingdom of Kuwait with several hundred deaths in succession, he crossed a border with the Western community of values. War had to come. But it was difficult for the American people to understand why war should now be waged against the one with whom they had recently collaborated. Then the Kuwaiti ambassador to the USA, Saud Nasir al-Sabah, invested 10.8 million US dollars in the then largest PR company in the world, Hill+Knowlton (which also devised the infamous campaign for the tobacco lobby that smoking is not unhealthy). H+K invented the “incubator lie” and was supposed to go down in the annals of war propaganda: 15-year-old Kuwaiti Nayirah, who was coached by H + K, told the world in tears horror stories of Iraqi soldiers who took newborn babies from the incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals and beat them to death on the cold ground. As we know, all this was a lie – Nayirah was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador and never worked in any hospital. But the public and the US Congress fell for the crying girl, the US went to war. Washington received international law authorization through UN Security Council Resolution 678-“Operation Desert Storm” was the last time the United States fought an initially legal war. Later followed Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, again Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Philippines and Syria – all illegal wars. Of course, even the most serious US war crimes can arise from initial legality.
The 1991 Gulf War ushered in a paradigm shift: after decades of covert coups and limited intelligence operations in the greater Middle East, US imperialism from now on relied on brute military force and with “humanitarian intervention” invented the perverted propaganda tool with which its raids and massacres were to be legitimized in the future with the prevention of raids and massacres. In place of intrigue comes subjugation, subversion becomes aggression, pinpricks are replaced by sledgehammers. The Second Gulf War was the first major U.S. military operation in the Middle East, marking the actual beginning of the forever War, the interminable war of the United States, the beginning of which is generally dated only to George Bush’s proclamation of the “War on Terror” after the attacks of September 11, 2001. But it is imperative to understand the Bush Senior administration’s criminality – and in particular the Clinton administration’s subsequent genocidal campaign-as the very beginning of this tragic story. “The Mother of All Wars” in 1991 did not end after a few weeks, but rather set in motion a chain of events that have brought death and destruction to Iraq for 30 years now. The period between 1991 and 2003 is often seen as a kind of military black box in which, if at all, Clinton’s sanctions regime is remembered, but the weapons supposedly rested. But this view is historically wrong, it did not exist, this twelve-year break. Rather, Bush Senior heralded a pathological continuity of US Middle East policy: for 30 years, the US has been bombing Iraq.
Beginning in August 1990, Saddam made several offers to the United States for a complete withdrawal from Kuwait – some illusory and presumptuous, others more than negotiable – but all were rejected: the time of diplomacy was over, Washington wanted war. And so, under false pretences and a threat of Iraqi troops to the Saudi territory created by misleading intelligence, the United States led the royal house in Saudi Arabia to use the kingdom as a staging ground for the coming war. A dam breach: For decades, the presence of “Yankees” on the sacred lands of Mecca and Medina was unthinkable. In Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia, the United States initially gathered around 660,000 soldiers, later nearly one million, about three-quarters of them from the United States, the rest from 33 other countries, some of which were massively pressed, others financially blackmailed by Washington to join the coalition. As if the newly reunited republic could hardly wait, Germany was also there, sending hundreds of troops, warplanes, ships and tanks not directly to the war zone, but to support missions in Turkey, the Mediterranean and even to the Persian Gulf. (Also, 15 to 20 percent of the war costs were borne by Germany. At the birth of the reunited Federal Republic, Chancellor Kohl was guilty of a serious constitutional violation – after all, the German Basic Law defines the Bundeswehr as an exclusive defense army.
On the eve of the Gulf War, President George H. W. Bush is clear that he is not talking about Kuwaiti babies in incubators, but about less noble goals: “Access to the oil of the Persian Gulf and the security of friendly key states in the region are crucial for the national security of the United States … The United States remains committed to defending its fundamental interests in the region, if necessary with military force, against any power whose interests harm ours.“This refreshingly honest sentence is 30 years old and the zeitgeist has changed in a way since then, that the US Empire can no longer communicate its hegemonic nature in this openness – the omnipresence of the liberal propaganda instrument of “humanitarian intervention”, familiar to us today, did not yet exist at that time.
On the night of January 17, 1991, the US finally began bombing Iraq – in a campaign that would become one of the most concentrated air wars in history: in just 43 days, the US coalition carried out 109,876 air strikes, an average of 106 every hour. One of the most horrific crimes in Operation Desert Storm was committed by the United States on the night of September 13. February 1991: US stealth bombers dropped two laser – guided “smart bombs” on a shelter in Baghdad, in which 408 civilians were burned in the inferno of flames-the most casualty attack of modern air warfare. While videos of charred bodies of children made the rounds, the US leadership assured that it was flying surgical strikes against Iraqi military infrastructure. Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark vehemently disagrees with this statement, stating in an interview with arte that” the bombings prove beyond any doubt that the United States deliberately planned the destruction of the economic supply of the Iraqi people " (a foretaste of what was to come under Clinton). Clark leads systematic attacks on all aspects of water and food supply. “The entire power supply was shut down within hours.“The same applies to communications and transport networks. Justice Clark’s damning verdict: “It was proven that a country could be destroyed by cruise missiles and air strikes and deprived of its vital supply systems without ever having to enter it.”
On February 24, 1991, the United States began the ground invasion of Kuwait and was able to recapture the entire country within a few days. Iraqi troops retreating set fire to dozens of oil facilities and opened Kuwaiti oil terminals, triggering a devastating environmental disaster in the Persian Gulf. US troops committed serious massacres of civilians and Iraqi troops who had already surrendered, as the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed. U.S. Attorney Clark speaks of war crimes. In the night on the 27. On February 22, the US military stopped a convoy of up to 2,000 mostly civilian vehicles from leaving Kuwait on Highway 80 to Basra in southern Iraq. For hours the convoy was bombed by US fighter jets, hundreds to thousands of people died-a serious US war crime that entered the history books as a” Highway of Death”.
But the most perfidious war crime committed for the first time in the Gulf War and since then in every other NATO war: the use of depleted uranium (DU). DU ammunition is an illegal weapon whose fine dusts radioactively contaminate and poison an entire region including soil, air, groundwater, flora and fauna over billions of years and spread through the food chain in all living beings – “a weapon against this planet,” says Berlin-based DU researcher Professor Albrecht Schott. In 1991, the United States fired 320 tons of radioactive DU ammunition in Iraq. Cancer rates skyrocketed. As with the chemical warfare of the USA in Vietnam by means of Agent Orange, the smallest ones are also hit hardest by DU: in only ten years, the number of deformities in newborns in Basra increased sevenfold. For many of the deformities there were “no medical terms at all” and no references in the specialist literature, journalist Dahr Jamail describes the perplexity of the Iraqi hospital staff. Jamaal’s disturbing video footage from the hospitals is hard to bear. The US has created a new class of human misery and suffering through its DU ammunition.
The war ended with a ceasefire on 28 February 1991. Kuwait was extensively destroyed but liberated. Saddam was driven out of the country but remained in power. In total, more than 200,000 Iraqi children, women and men were killed.
A historical-cynical footnote of the war: Five hours after the start of the US bombings on January 17, 1991, Saddam fired a total of 88 SCUD missiles at the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv in retaliation, killing 74 people directly or indirectly, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. In the years before, it was German machine manufacturers who increased the range of Saddam’s SCUD missiles to such an extent that they could reach Israel in the first place: 46 years after Hitler, German engineering kills Jews again.
The liberal bombs
In the mid-1990s, the most serious blowjob in history occurred. The Christian right in the US was beside itself with consensual sex of the US president with an adult woman who was not his wife (while the same people years later subjected themselves to the “pussy-grabbing” and often credibly accused rapist Trump). The only second impeachment in US history was initiated. Bill Clinton survived the “Lewinsky affair”, but people on the other side of the globe paid dearly for this petty gossip scandal. Three days after Clinton testified before a grand jury about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, the U.S. fired her. Navy in August 1998 launched cruise missiles at a pharmaceutical factory in Karthum, Sudan, killing one person and injuring eleven, as well as over 60 other missiles at an Al-Qaeda base in Khost, Afghanistan, with an unknown number of dead-the actual target Osama bin Laden was not even present. The first ever US pre-emptive strike against non-state actors served only to distract the public at home – and the Taliban withdrew their promise to extradite Osama bin Laden to Saudi Arabia and instead strengthened cooperation with the terrorist godfather. The rest is history.
Four months later, the same game, different country: In order to overshadow the impeachment proceedings by media-effective acts of war, Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, the largest US bombing campaign since the Gulf War in 1991, three days before the trial began on 16 December 1998. In a momentous historical turn, Clinton lied in 1998 that Saddam Hussein would refuse to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors. In fact, Washington itself ordered the withdrawal of UN inspectors to protect against the approaching US bombings, as former US officer and 1998 senior UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, reveals in a historically important interview with Amy Goodman in 2005. “The goal was not disarmament. The goal was regime Change. And disarmament was only useful in so far as it facilitated regime change, " Ritter describes the 12-year campaign of lies, deception, and violations of international law, starting with Bush Senior in 1991 and Bill Clinton through to Bush Junior in 2003. On the historically important question of weapons inspectors in the run-up to Desert Fox in 1998, Ritter, then himself on the ground, states unequivocally: “Bill Clinton ordered the inspectors to leave the country. Saddam did not kick them out.“Although refuted many times, the lie found its way into official US war propaganda, so that Secretary of State Colin Powell could also bluntly lie to the world in his infamous PowerPoint presentation to the UN Security Council in 2003:” Saddam Hussein threw out the last inspectors in 1998.”
And so, to divert attention from the impeachment hearings in 1998, Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, under which 300 U.S. bombers and fighter jets dropped over 600 bombs and missiles on a variety of Iraqi infrastructures in 70 hours, killing between 240 and 1,400 people. In the wake of Desert Fox, Clinton also provided nearly $ 97 million to enable the London-based Iraqi opposition in exile to accompany regime change from the outside-a model that we will later encounter in Iran, Libya and Syria. And another side note: Since Desert Fox, US soldiers have also been bombing foreign countries. The first of them, 26-year-old Lt. Kendra Williams from Alaska, fired historically valuable missiles from her F/A-18 Hornet on December 16, 1998.
However, even before Desert Fox in 1998, Clinton already ordered major bombing campaigns against Iraq, ostensibly to enforce the two no-fly zones established by the USA, Great Britain and France in the north and south of Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991. By means of the no – fly zones, Iraqi air defenses and other military installations were destroyed in preparation for war, but with the supposed protection of the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south, these banal reasons for war were shrouded in a humanitarian narrative-the kind of narrative that has become the only legitimate and respectable rhetoric of war in today’s wars.
For the no-fly zones, there was no basis under international law that they were “illegal,” according to the then UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in August 2000. In the decade of no-fly zones, facilities were usually bombed by Saddam’s security apparatus, but civilians were also killed time and again. On the night of June 27, 1993, Clinton fired 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles from US warships into downtown Baghdad, hitting a residential area, killing nine civilians and wounding 12 others. On 3. September 1996 several cities in the center and east of Iraq were bombed (Operation Desert Strike) and in the course of the attacks the USA and Great Britain illegally shifted the border of the southern no-fly zone by a latitude, 111 kilometers, to the gates of Baghdad-which caused France to leave the coalition.
What was it the odious Kissinger is said to have remarked about the Iran-Iraq war? "It's a pity they both can't lose"? https://t.co/adNDsvSoLn— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) July 25, 2017
Since the establishment of the no-fly zone in March 1991, the United States has flown an average of 34,000 missions per year against Iraq, which corresponds to a total of around 400,000 missions by March 2003. That’s 93 per day, or one every 15 minutes - over twelve years. There are no confirmed casualties from this period, but according to the UN, 144 civilians were killed in 1999 alone as part of the no-fly zone, while the Saddam regime reports a total of 1,400 civilians killed. Over time, 40 percent of all victims were civilians. The widespread assumption that things were quiet in Iraq under Bill Clinton has nothing to do with reality.
Genocide through economic terrorism
But in addition to these incessant bombings, liberal champion Bill Clinton’s great crime against humanity in Iraq was another: his genocidal sanctions regime in the 1990s. Four days after Saddam’s raid on Kuwait, on 6 August 1990, under pressure from the Bush administration, UN Resolution 661 was adopted, which imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iraq and thus urged Saddam to withdraw from occupied Kuwait. But even after this withdrawal, the veto-wielding US refused to withdraw the sanctions, setting in motion a spiral of escalation that would almost wipe out Iraq as a functioning state and social entity over the next twelve years through state economic terrorism.
After Saddam’s withdrawal, the new rationale for maintaining sanctions was the Iraqi weapons of Mass Destruction program - a narrative that Bush Senior inherited from Clinton and found its devastating climax in Bush Junior’s “smoking colt” nonsense. As early as 1992, Washington knew that Iraq had abandoned its program, but the sanctions remained in force, and in 1997 Bill Clinton laid out their function: “The sanctions will remain in place until the end of all time, or as long as he [Hussein] is there.” Clinton could not disclose his agenda more clearly: regime change through economic war. 22 Million people held hostage to get rid of an unwelcome dictator.
In addition to essentials such as rice and baby food, banal things such as soap, paper, ping – pong balls and lipsticks were covered with embargoes, even toothbrushes and pencils-after all, one could make rifle ammunition from the latter, however. In 1997, the Clinton administration proudly called its export embargo on almost all goods “the toughest and most comprehensive sanctions in history”-and the health of ordinary people was hit hard. In the first year alone, economic output fell by 75 percent to the level of the 1940s. In the first five years, the price of a sack of grain increased 11,667 times. People were starving and selling their homes for basic food. The numbers of chronically malnourished children skyrocketed. The Iraqi health system, which was exemplary before the sanctions in the Arab world, was deliberately decimated. In addition to medical-technical equipment such as dialysis equipment, X-ray equipment or incubators (what irony …), which did not reach the country at all, even the simplest consumer goods such as syringes, plasters and swabs became scarce.
Infant mortality multiplied. According to a UNICEF study, almost half of Iraqi children under the age of five suffered from diarrhoea, and more than a third suffered from acute respiratory diseases. The full embargo on chemicals and water treatment facilities systematically destroyed Iraq’s water supply, which was not collateral damage, but intended by the Clinton administration, as secret documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) prove. The DIA’s predictions then arrived, and the plan worked: epidemics of water-borne, actually already eradicated diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, diarrhoea and polio were rampant.
Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark set up an international tribunal to indict the US and UK governments for “crimes against humanity”: both governments “committed genocide against the people of Iraq in the sense of the Genocide Convention, including genocide by means of hunger and disease, through the use of sanctions as a weapon of mass destruction”. Even if such vocabulary is not “allowed” to be applied to liberal Western democracies: Bill Clinton is a genocidal man.
In the mid-1990s, U.S. Attorney General Clark cited the appalling figure of 1.5 million people killed by sanctions, while others put it even higher. As early as 1995, the World Food Organization cited the number of 576,000 children killed by sanctions – that is Madeleine Albright’s infamous “price” for US regime Change, which it said was “worth” having Iraqi children pay. Genocide by sanctions, the destruction of a country by economic terrorism, millions of murders by active omission – this is Bill Clinton’s legacy in Iraq and the prime example of how a country and its people can be destroyed without even setting foot on this country.
Iraq at the centre of the “War on Terror”
In 2001, George W. Bush became the new president and, under the guise of the no-fly zones installed ten years earlier by his father, Junior bombed the entire Iraq-including the strip around Baghdad between the two, already illegal, no – fly zones in the north and south of the country-before 2003 in preparation for the great war that was soon to follow. Shortly after taking office, Bush and Tony Blair dropped bombs on five positions near Baghdad on February 16, 2001. Nine civilians were seriously injured, women, children and the elderly, three civilians were killed the next day – the Bush administration speaks of “self-defense measures” and “legitimate military targets”. A little foretaste of what will begin a few months later: the attacks of September 11, 2001, in which 2,977 people were killed and over 6,000 injured, are followed by the era of the “War on Terror”, which has always served successive US administrations as a blank check for capital crimes at home and abroad.
The “War on Terror"narrative, deliberately constructed in its contentless diffuseness, has become so powerful and flesh and blood to us all that the details of the war have become mere historical marginal notes. In 20 countries, the “War on Terror” has caused well over a million deaths and 59 million refugees. In the center of the forever war is once again Iraq. The illegal invasion in 2003 and the fall of Saddam were followed by the colonization of the country and the exploitation of its treasures by US corporations. This was followed by the torture of Abu Ghraib and massacres of civilians by Blackwater mercenaries. In the course of the purely ideologically based, strategically considered catastrophic de-baathification (Saddam’s party), hundreds of thousands of well-trained, armed soldiers lost their jobs and pensions and thus formed the backbone of the years-long armed uprising against the occupying power USA. The massive increase under Bush to 168.000 troops in 2007 followed under Obama, the almost complete withdrawal from 2011, and Obama’s strategy of “light footprint” – the focus on the drone war. Saddam’s secular, mostly atheist, generals put on the streets by the US eventually formed the leadership of the “Islamic State” and soon controlled a “caliphate” the size of Britain, which in turn had to be destroyed by the US – the “War on Terror” is not a line with an achievable end point, but a circle in which cause and effect are one and the same.
In a groundbreaking 2015 study, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) comes to the horrifying figure of one million people killed in the War on Terror in Iraq alone. In the fight against the” Islamic State”, tens of thousands of civilians were also killed by the US in Iraq in the following years – from October 2016, Mosul was razed to the ground by US fighter jets in northern Iraq.
Länder, die von den #USA im #WarOnTerror seit 2001 angegriffen wurden (alphabetisch):— Jakob Reimann (@Jakob_Reimann) January 27, 2021
Zentralafrikanische Republik pic.twitter.com/r6bg6TslQ6
A war for oil?
The 30-year war in Iraq, it is often claimed, is a resource war – a “war for oil”. This narrative is accurate and yet falls far short. A widespread misconception claims that the US is waging war to get Iraqi oil to supply its energy-intensive economy as cheaply as possible. But the US has historically been the world’s largest oil producer since 2015, producing almost twice as much in 2019 as second - and third-placed Saudi Arabia and Russia combined. The US has become a net oil exporter since the end of 2019, and half of the approximately nine million barrels per day it imports come from Canada, a fifth from Latin America, and only a tenth from all countries in the Middle East. No four percent of all US oil imports come from Iraq. 30 Years of the Iraq War are not aimed at robbing the oil, but at controlling it. Because Iraq has the fifth-largest Oil reserves in the world – more than three times as much as the US top ten – and is thus a potentially ultra-rich country. This financial potential could be translated from an ambitious leadership in Baghdad into economic, political and final military power. Iraq - also with its millennia-old culture and history, its young population and its geostrategically extremely advantageous location – has the best prerequisites for becoming a regional hegemony that could dominate Western Asia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, there has been only one hegemonist in the world, the USA. And the doctrine of neorealism, according to which international power relations in the world are organized, dictates to a great power in this situation: no hegemon beside me!
The foreign policy of the USA therefore serves above all other objectives to prevent the rise of other regional hegemons at all costs, which happens through various tools: high-level military dependence (Saudi Arabia), submission to military vassals (Europe via NATO alliance), de facto military colony (Japan), military and economic confinement (Russia) or a cocktail of various tactics (Iran). Washington’s strategy to contain expansionist Turkey will be defined in the next five to ten years and China’s hegemonic rise can only be halted in the medium term with the Third World War.
For 30 years, Iraq has chosen a mix of interlocking economic and military wars. The three decades before – Saddam Hussein had been supported by the US since 1959 – Saddam, despite his megalomania, always knew his place and his task on this imperial chessboard: first Nasser’s Egypt in view, then from 1979 onwards revolutionary Iran on the ground. When he overreached his paper and invaded Kuwait in 1990, within a few months the Empire’s close ally became a butcher more brutal than Adolf Hitler, according to Donald Rumsfeld at the time. He lost the favor of his master, paying the deadly price since then 38 million children, women and men in Iraq.
The third stain
For nine terms under six different presidents, the United States of America has been waging war against Iraq. And it makes no difference whether Republicans or Democrats, pigeons or hawks sit in the Oval Office or how completely different the political situation in Iraq itself looks – the bombs continue to fall. The above-mentioned illegal bombing of Baghdad on February 16, 2001, Bush Jr. famously described it as a “routine mission.” From the perspective of the White house and the Pentagon, the entire Iraq war is just that: “Routine”, a Reflex that is running. It belongs to the foreign policy DNA of Washington, to the background noise, is taken over unasked by the predecessor and handed over unasked to the successor.
When the US dropped more bombs on tiny North Korea in the 1950s than in the entire US Pacific War of World War II, Strategic Air Command commander Curtis LeMay boasted that he had “burned down almost every city in North and South Korea” and estimated that “we wiped out 20 percent of the population.” Hoyt Vandenberg, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, finally complained: “We have reached the point where there are no longer enough targets in North Korea to employ the Air Force.“As a result, dams were bombed, the rice fields flooded and millions of people were driven to the brink of starvation.
A decade later, Washington waged the largest chemical weapons campaign in human history in Vietnam. In total, the U.S. Air Force rained down 76 million liters of chemicals on Vietnam. Recently, the fetotoxic dioxin with which Agent Orange was contaminated could still be detected in the blood serum of Vietnamese men, where it causes the most severe deformities in newborns – even 50 years later, the chemical warfare of the USA simply does not want to stop producing suffering.
When Bush Senior began bombing Iraq 30 years ago, a deadly switch was seemingly irreversible. As explained here, the US has killed over 2.7 million people in Iraq since then. That’s an average of 250 deaths – every single day for 30 years.
After Korea and Vietnam, Iraq is thus the third major blot on the chronicle of American foreign policy after World War II and deserves the same damning verdict of all civilized people. The 30-year destruction of Iraq is symptomatic of the pathology of the only superpower’s dealings with the rest of the world. It is idle to try Maslow’s hammer again and again, but necessary: “I think it is tempting when the only tool you have is a hammer to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
No civilized or at least rational government would bomb a country for three decades in the belief that it could shape it in its own image. When will you sit down and reflect on your own actions? When does Washington decide that the Iraqi population has had enough? After 33 or 35 years? After 40, 70 or 100?
You can find the sources here.