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Bush, Blair and Howard – Three reckless adventurers in Iraq (Part 9)

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.

Deception on a grand scale

The Iraq Inquiry, initially intended to be conducted behind closed doors, under arrangements designed to minimise public disclosure of the underling documents, many of which were classified as ‘secret’, and entrusted to a retired senior civil servant such as Sir John Chilcot, “a safe pair of hands” as The Guardian called him, turned out to be a rather plain narrative. None of the five members had any legal qualification or forensic experience.

As a narrative of the events it deals with many documents, previously kept secret, the testimony of witness appearing before the Committee to provide greater information on what, in part, was already known. However, the process took some 6,275 pages collected into twelve volumes, without providing any detailed analysis of the evidence presented. It is not easy to attempt to find any reference to the undeclared and clandestine war launched by the United States and the United Kingdom for the purpose of provoking Saddam Hussein into giving the aggressors a cause to react and to go to open war.

The Iraq war which officially started on 20 March 2003 had in fact begun on 20 May 2002 – exactly ten months before. There is no question that it was illegally started five months before the U.S. Congress granted the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, the so-called Iraq Resolution. That joint Resolution, Pub. L. 107–243, 116 Stat. 1498, was enacted on 16 October 2002, H. J. Res. 114. The war also started six months before the unanimously adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441: 8 November 2002, subject “The situation between Iraq and Kuwait”. That Resolution offered Iraq under Saddam Hussein “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations” that had been set out in several previous resolutions (Resolutions 660, 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 986 and 1284).

Resolution 1441 stated that Iraq was in material breach of the ceasefire terms presented under the terms of Resolution 687. Iraq’s breaches related not only to weapons of mass destruction but also the known construction of prohibited types of missiles, the purchase and import of prohibited armaments, and the continuing refusal of Iraq to compensate Kuwait for the widespread looting conducted by its troops during the 1990-1991 invasion and occupation. It also stated that “…false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations.”

Before the war started, the United States and the United Kingdom air forces had been patrolling a so-called no-fly zone over southern Iraq to protect the Shia majority from the Sunni and Saddam’s forces. Under that pretext they had been carrying out what was known as Operation Southern Force.

On 19 July 2003 The New York Times reported from Las Vegas that “American air war commanders carried out a comprehensive plan to disrupt Iraq’s military command and control system before the Iraq war, according to an internal briefing on the conflict by the senior allied air war commander.

Known as Southern Focus, the plan called for attacks on the network of fiber-optic cable that Saddam Hussein’s government used to transmit military communications, as well as airstrikes on key command centers, radars and other important military assets.”

Summing up: on 1 May 2003 from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln President Bush speech declared an end to major combat in Iraq. He was speaking in front of a banner which read ‘Mission accomplished’. The ‘missionaries’ which had provided invading armies were the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland, the four members of the Multi-National Force – Iraq. They were followed by a ‘Coalition of the willing’ made up of some 39 countries – amongst them Mongolia from Asia, Namibia from Africa and, as the ‘organiser’, Australia from Oceania.

A Coalition Provisional Authority was installed as a transitional government of Iraq Baghdad on 11 May 2003 under Lewis Paul Bremer III. Bremer is an American diplomat. Saddam Hussein would be captured on 13 December 2003, later tried and convicted on charges of crimes against humanity on 5 November 2006 and executed by hanging on 30 December 2006.

On 17 July 2003, speaking to American and allied military officers at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada Lieutenant General T. Michael Moseley, the chief allied commander, provided an internal briefing. Lessons were to be learned.

Among the points made by General Moseley some are significant:

1) Air war commanders were required to obtain the approval of Defense Secretary Donald L. Rumsfeld if any planned airstrike was thought likely to result in deaths of more than 30 civilians. More than 50 such strikes were proposed, and all of them were approved.

2) During the war, about 1,800 allied aircraft conducted about 20,000 strikes. Of those, 15,800 were directed against Iraqi ground forces while some 1,400 struck the Iraqi Air Force, air bases or air defences. About 1,800 airstrikes were directed against the Iraqi government and 800 at suspected hiding places and installations for illicit weapons, including surface-to-surface missiles.

The strikes, which had been carried out from mid-2002 into the first few months of 2003, were ‘justified’ publicly at the time as a reaction to Iraqi violations of a no-flight zone that the United States and Britain established in southern Iraq. General Moseley said that the attacks also laid the foundations for the military campaign against Iraq.

Indeed, one reason it was possible for the allies to begin the ground campaign to invade Iraq without preceding it with an extensive array of airstrikes was that 606 bombs had been dropped on 391 carefully selected targets under the plan, the General said.

“It provided a set of opportunities and options for General Franks”, General Moseley said, referring to Gen. Tommy R. Franks, then head of the United States Central Command. While there were indications at the time that the United States was trying to weaken Iraqi air defences in anticipation of a possible war, the scope and detailed planning which lay behind the effort were not generally known.

The disclosure of the plan was part of an assessment prepared by General Moseley on the lessons of the war with Iraq.

According to The New York Times, the air campaign had begun as a response to the Iraqis, who had deployed additional surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft artillery south of Baghdad beginning in the late 1990s. Their manoeuvres had improved the defence of the capital. The air defence systems had the range to hit allied planes which were patrolling some portions of the southern no-flight zone.

General Charles Wald, General Moseley’s predecessor as the top American air commander in the Middle East, had proposed a major attack to disable the strengthened Iraqi defences as early as 2001. But the newly inaugurated Bush Administration was not looking for a confrontation with Iraq at that time, and General Wald’s recommendation had not been approved.

After General Moseley had assumed command, towards the end of 2001, however, the American strategy began to change. General Moseley and General Franks believed that the American military needed a plan to weaken the Iraqi air defences, initially because of the threat to the allied patrols and later to facilitate an offensive.

The first step was to use spy satellites, U-2 planes and reconnaissance drones to identify potential targets.

One major target had been the network of fibre-optic cable which transmitted military communications between Baghdad and Basra and Baghdad and Nasiriya. The cables themselves were buried underground and impossible to locate. So the air war commanders focused on the ‘cable repeater stations,’ which relayed the signals. From June 2002 until the beginning of the Iraq war, the allies had flown 21,736 sorties over southern Iraq and attacked 349 targets, including the cable stations.

“We were able to figure out that we were getting ahead of this guy and we were breaking them up faster than he could fix them.” General Moseley said of the fibre-optic cables. “So then we were able to push it up a little bit and effectively break up the fibre-optic backbone from Baghdad to the south.”

During that period before the war American officials said that the strikes were necessary because the Iraqis were shooting more often at allied air patrols. In total, the Iraqis had fired on allied aircraft 651 times “during the operation”, said General Moseley. He was presumably referring to Operation Southern Force. General Moseley added that it was possible that the Iraqi attacks had increased because allied planes had stepped up their patrols over Iraq. “We became a little more aggressive based on them shooting more at us, which allowed us to respond more.” he said. “Then the question is whether they were shooting at us because we were up there more. So there is a chicken and egg thing here.”

The air campaign had also provided an opportunity for American war commanders to try new military technologies and tactics.

Tomorrow: Deception on a grand scale (continued)

GeorgeVenturini 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). He may be reached at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.

⬅️ Part 8

➡️ Part 10

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  1. jim

    Why did it take fourteen years to even start talking about this, they these men are protected by the system and this shows the system is definitely corrupt.

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