The Iraq Inquiry Report (2009-2016) documents how Tony Blair committed Great Britain to war early in 2002, lying to the United Nations, to Parliament, and to the British people, in order to follow George Bush, who had planned an aggression on Iraq well before September 2001.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard conspired with both reckless adventurers, purported ‘to advise’ both buccaneers, sent troops to Iraq before the war started, then lied to Parliament and to the Australian people. He continues to do so.
Should he and his cabal be charged with war crimes? This, and more, is investigated by Dr George Venturini in this outstanding series.
The bloody cost and legacy of the invasion
The invasion of Iraq was never about delivering democracy or protecting human rights; it was always about expanding American power – but it was about more, much more. The American Administration saw an opportunity to occupy and reshape the Middle East in order to control its oil reserves, thereby obtaining leverage against economic rivals and ensuring the future profitability and dominance of the U.S. economy.
The Iraqi city of Fallujah is testament to the human toll of the project. It has been razed three times since the Americans and their ‘coalition’ first invaded Iraq. Once home to a bustling population of 300,000, it was reduced to rubble in 2004, when U.S. troops twice laid siege to the city, unleashing a wave of brutal repression on its civilians. Troops indiscriminately shot and killed protesters, conducted weeks of aerial bombardment and bathed the city in white phosphorus.
Exposure to the depleted uranium employed in American weapons resulted in a fourfold increase in the cancer rate in the years between 2004 and 2010, and a 12-fold increase in cancer for children, according to a study by Dr. Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster, Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi, entitled Cancer, infant mortality and birth sex-ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009 (Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 7 (7): 2828–2837). Busby’s extensive research led him to conclude that the toxic fallout of the American assault on the city is worse than that suffered by the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In 2013 paediatricians at the Fallujah General Hospital told Al Jazeera journalists that, frequently, children were born with birth defects so numerous, rare and extreme that doctors do not even have a medical name for the conditions they cause.
The atrocities once committed by American troops in Fallujah are now being carried out by the client regime the United States installed after the invasion. In June 2016 Fallujah was again the scene of mass devastation, this time stormed by Iraqi regular forces and militias. This was done on the pretext of saving civilians from I.S.I.S.
Five years after Obama declared the U.S. occupation of Iraq over and troops were “officially withdrawn”, Human Rights Watch reported that most of Fallujah’s residents have been forced to flee, languishing now in refugee camps, and the remaining population is starving. Civilians are the only ones who pay the price of the conflict.
In March 2015 the 1985 Nobel Prize for Peace, Physicians for Social Responsibility calculated that the war on terror has, directly or indirectly, murdered around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan – a total death count of 1.3 million. That is a conservative estimate; the researchers concluded that the real casualty rate is probably much closer to 2 million. (Body Count, Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the “War on Terror” Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, First international edition, March 2015).
After the events of 9/11 the George W. Bush Administration introduced draconian anti-terror laws such as the Patriot Act , enacted in part to intimidate domestic opposition to war. Governments around the world followed suit, seizing on an opportunity to increase state powers and further spy on and repress their own citizens under the pretext of “fighting terrorism”. Prime Minister Tony Blair did the same during the years of his government: 1997-2007. Vassal states like Australia, under the administration of Prime Minister John W. Howard followed obsequiously and punctually. The Obama Administration, promoted as bringing an end to U.S. wars in the Middle East, has expanded the domestic U.S. security state and extended the theatre of war by escalating the use of drone warfare.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, since 2002 – the second year of George W. Bush presidency – drone strikes have killed more than 7,000 people. The use of drones, rather than ‘boots-on-the-ground’ has increased with President Obama, and so has the number of civilian victims. The same Bureau estimated that between 2004 and 2016 the U.S. has launched 424 drone strikes on suspected terrorists in Pakistan alone. More than 4,000 people were killed, a quarter of whom were civilians. Moreover, a growing numb er of credible research studies are informing that the negative effects of drone strikes are fuelling public resentment against the United States foreign policy and that of ‘western’ allies. An aggressive foreign policy ostensibly intended to counter global terrorism has instead had the effect of providing fodder for the recruitment and growth of extremist groups.
Despite this expansion, the United States has not been able to accomplish its objectives. In fact, after 15 years of war, the U.S. global position is weakened.
Justifying such crimes against humanity required the creation of a hysterical climate of fear. The demonising and criminalising of Muslims and the stoking of Islamophobia have become the key means by which the United States and its allies and clients excuse both interventions and a mass offensive against civil liberties.
Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, where the United States has detained for years some 800 people – 674 never been charged – but accused and tortured as terror suspects, Manus Island and Nauru, where client-states of Australia have been holding for years presently and respectively 847 and 442 asylum seekers are the embodiment of this infamy. These people are victims of the ‘war on terror’, their lives destroyed by the United States and its vassals.
The cost of the war and of the concentration camps cannot be correctly measured but may safely be expressed in trillions and billions.
How did all this come about? What is the source of such insanity? Well, much of this may be brought back to the kind of relationship established between modern time ‘statesmen’.
First is George W. Bush, 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 and 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009. And always behind him Dick Cheney – for a ‘cabal’ of oilmen.
It is known that, only two months after 9/11, on 21 November 2001, Bush formally instructed Rumsfeld that he wanted to develop a plan for war in Iraq.
Distinguished presidential biographer, professor Jean Edward Smith, a member of the faculty at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years, and at Marshall University for twelve, has recently published ‘Bush’.
It is an in-depth and incisive new biography of the 43rd president which begins with this striking sentence: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” He proves his case in the subsequent pages.
Professor Smith recounts Bush’s childhood in Texas; lacklustre academic career at Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business School; Air National Guard service; business ventures; alcoholism; marriage to Laura; embrace of born-again Christianity; and term as Texas governor. A portrait appears of a man untutored, untravelled, unversed in the ways of the world – and, more damningly, uncaring to be regarded as such. It is the portrait of a president unprepared for the complexities of governing, with little executive experience and a glaring deficit in his attention span. But the bulk of the book is devoted to Bush’s presidency and his disastrous foreign policy.
Notably, professor Smith belies the impression that Bush was brazenly manipulated by high-level advisors such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and other neoconservatives who politicised and abused the intelligence process. Even if Cheney was the driving force behind the war campaign’s deceptions, Bush was undeniably the chief cheerleader. For Bush, the intelligence ‘findings’ that Cheney and other were offering him – and the accomplice media – were not factors which needed to be weighed carefully as part of a decision-making process. There was, in fact, no decision-making process. The intelligence ‘finding’ were simply elements of a gigantic sales campaign. Bush prided himself on being “The Decider” and made a show of his decisiveness. After 9/11, as “The War President”, his greatest strength became his worst flaw. He conducted his foreign policy with a religious certitude. He oversimplified conflicts abroad and saw himself as a Christian crusader, as God’s agent to defeat evil.
According to professor Smith, Bush – and not his seasoned advisors – made the decisions to invade Iraq and to prolong the war after ‘Mission Accomplished,’ and then to allow, among other actions, widespread surveillance, torture, and rendition of suspected terrorists – all the while testing the bounds of domestic and international law and often ignoring the concerns of military and diplomatic experts.
Bush was able to simplify the Iraq adventure by affirming: “I will say, definitely, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, as are 25 million people who now have a chance to love in freedom.” Blair would say the same to his defence. Howard would follow obsequiously.
The more complicated situation is quite different. In his book In the Belly of the Green Bird, Nir Rosen, an American journalist, described the events in Iraq after the U.S. invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein. Published in 2006, the book builds on nearly three years spent in Iraq observing ordinary life and talking with a wide range of people involved in and affected by the violence. Rosen’s thesis is that Iraq is now in a state of civil war and that the U.S. can do little to stop the increasing violence. Rosen was able to take advantage of his fluent Arabic and dark complexion to mix unobtrusively with Iraqis and to dispense with translators in his interviews. He writes: “Certainly the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis are not better off. Their families aren’t better off. The tens of thousands of Iraqi men who languished in American and subsequently Iraqi gulags are not better off. The children who lost their fathers aren’t better off. The millions of Iraqis who lost their homes, hundreds of thousands of refugees in the region, are not better off. So there’s no mathematical calculation you can make to determine who’s better off and who’s not …
Saddam Hussein is gone, that’s true. The regime we’ve put in place is certainly more representative, but it’s brutal and authoritarian. Torture is routine and systematic. Corruption is also routine and systematic. There are no services to speak of, no real electricity or water. Violence remains very high. So, there’s nothing to be proud of in this. The Iraqi people deserve much better, and they’re the real victims of Bush’s war.” (D. Froomkin, The two most essential, abhorrent, intolerable lies of George W. Bush’s memoir, www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/22,updated May 26, 2011).
What such murderous sociopaths as Bush, Blair and Howard are saying is that “the world is better off” without the more than one million annihilated by their war.
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini – ‘George’ devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. In 1975, invited by Attorney-General Lionel Keith Murphy, Q.C., he left a law chair in Chicago to join the Trade Practices Commission in Canberra – to serve the Whitlam Government. In time he witnessed the administration of a law of prohibition as a law of abuse, and documented it in Malpractice, antitrust as an Australian poshlost (Sydney 1980).
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