|March 18, 2009Very soon, we will be commemorating the sixth anniversary of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The reasons given by the U.S. for the invasion were fairy tales, but the results were anything but the usual happy ending of fictitious fables.
The lead-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq was laden with lies, deceit, bribes, attempted bribes and so many ludicrous incidents that a fiction writer would be envious of the plot. Unfortunately, the scenario was real and deadly. The U.S. government stated that Iraq was about to attack its neighbors. Then, the east coast of the U.S. would eventually be a target for Iraqi bombers. The ante was upped even more as Condoleezza Rice told the world: The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he (Saddam Hussein) can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there has been shipments going into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that are really only suited for nuclear weapons programs.
Shortly after Rice made her allegations, numerous sources came forth to dispel her statement about aluminum tubes by pointing out that the aluminum tubes could only have been used for standard rockets and were in no way able to be used for nuclear weapons programs. Dick Cheney told the U.S. public that Iraq was thinking of bombing the east coast of the U.S. because the Iraqi government purchased road maps from Australia. Then, he said that Iraq had a fleet of drone airplanes to perform the task. When these allegations hit the world press, Iraq showed the world its dastardly drone aircraft: three or four drones made from balsa wood that had a range of about 20 miles. They were used for mapping purposes.
Despite these absurd allegations, most people did not see or hear about the quick rebuttals, so the original messages stuck in their minds. A major problem of these horrendous lies being thrust on the public was the so-called “opposition” party, the Democrats. Instead of jumping on the lies and holding the administration accountable, most remained mute during the buildup to the March invasion.
The U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was, to many U.S. citizens, held in high esteem. To them, he was the one “clear thinker” of the Bush administration. When he began to put forth incredible stories about Iraq, many who would have opposed an invasion, took his word as truth and eventually supported the war.
The world saw Powell at the UN making all sorts of allegations. One time, he questioned why an Iraqi building had a roof. Another time, he showed a satellite photo of an Iraqi convoy and asked what the Iraqis were moving. Shortly after each incident, reporters in Iraq went to the scenes of Powell’s queries. For the roof, the building manger said, “We have a roof to keep the sand and rain out of the building.” The convoy was approached by the press and shown that it consisted of tomatoes. Few questioned how the U.S. Secretary of State could make such outrageous remarks about convoys and roofs and not be lambasted by the press.
On February 5, 2003, Powell made his most dramatic appeal for war. The world watched as he spoke at the UN and accused Iraq of many violations of agreements and then added that the Iraqis had a fleet of mobile biological weapons factories. He received accolades from the entire U.S. government and those all over the world who wanted Iraq to be invaded. There was one problem, however, he lied. Today, we all know about the deceit and Powell has called this performance “the lowest point in my life.”
The White House considered Powell’s speech the crown jewel for making the case for war. On February 5, 2003, Powell’s statement appeared on the official White House website. It was called “Denial and Deception” in reference to the Iraqi government. We know now that the only denial and deception came from the U.S., yet the article is still listed. The original big lie is now part of “official” history in the U.S.
Three days before Powell laid out his agenda of lies at the UN, Saddam Hussein was interviewed by former British Labour MP Tony Benn, who asked him, “Mr. President, may I ask you some questions? The first is, does Iraq have any weapons of mass destruction?” Saddam Hussein replied:
Most Iraqi officials have been in power for over 34 years and have experience of dealing with the outside world. Every fair-minded person knows that when Iraqi officials say something, they are trustworthy. A few minutes ago when you asked me if I wanted to look at the questions beforehand I told you I didn’t feel the need so that we don’t waste time, and I gave you the freedom to ask me any question directly so that my reply would be direct.
This is an opportunity to reach the British people and the forces of peace in the world. There is only one truth and therefore I tell you as I have said on many occasions before that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction whatsoever. We challenge anyone who claims that we have to bring forward any evidence and present it to public opinion.
Today’s revisionists blame Saddam Hussein for trying to hoodwink the world into thinking Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) after the country destroyed them. On February 2, 2003, he made it clear that Iraq was free of banned weapons. Many times prior to this statement, officials from the Iraqi government publicly made the same assertions. Because the British and U.S. governments lied about Iraq’s compliance to UN resolutions, they created the fabrication that the Iraqi president was not forthright in denying the existence of the weapons. Facts show that he and his spokespeople for more than a decade publicly declared Iraq free of WMD, yet history has again been rewritten by the British and the U.S. governments and press to reflect a lie that created the destruction of Iraq and the deaths of many Iraqis as well as U.S. and British soldiers. The victors again rewrote history. But, in this case the victory statements were premature. The real war began after the declarations of triumph by the “coalition of the willing.”
Circumstances became even more bizarre. George Bush gave Saddam an ultimatum: leave Iraq within 48 hours or face a massive invasion. This was another lie. The invasion of Iraq began about a dozen hours before Bush’s “get out of Iraq” decree expired. The U.S. thought it had Saddam Hussein and his sons in its crosshairs and decided to bomb an area where U.S. intelligence said Saddam was holding a meeting. The bombs and missiles arrived and killed innocent people. Neither Saddam nor his sons were there.
On April 9, 2003, the world awoke to see a statue of Saddam Hussein being destroyed in Baghdad. Bush equated this to the toppling of the Berlin Wall. What the press did not do was to show the entire context of the statue’s demise.
There were few Iraqis at the scene. The U.S. rented an audience by bringing in a few outsiders, including Ahmed Chalabi and his crew. When pictures of the setting were scrutinized, it showed that most of the people were from the press corps (the U.S. military rounded them up from local hotels) and U.S. military.
How about the heart-rendering picture of a muscular Iraqi breaking the base of the statue with a sledgehammer? He was Iraqi weightlifting champion Kadhim al-Jubouri.
Four years after his image was seen worldwide, al-Jubouri had a change of heart. In the article, “The Regrets of the Man Who Brought Down Saddam,” published on March 19, 2007, by The Guardian:
Now on the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, he (al-Jubouri) says, “I really regret bringing down the statue. The Americans are worse than the dictatorship. Every day is worse than the previous day.”
Yet he now says he would prefer to be living under Saddam than under U.S. occupation. He said, “We no longer know friend from foe. The situation is becoming more dangerous.”
Another widely-published picture showed an Iraqi tying a chain around Saddam’s neck for the tanks below to pull down the statue. The person who affixed the chain was Ibrahim Khalil. On the fifth anniversary of the toppling of the statue, Khalil echoed similar statements to those of al-Jubouri. According to the article “Khalil Regrets Toppling of Statue of Saddam,” published on April 9, 2008 by Agence France Presse:
Ibrahim Khalil, who five years ago took part in the iconic toppling of a giant statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad, said on Wednesday he now regrets taking part in the hugely symbolic event.
“If history can take me back, I will kiss the statue of Saddam Hussein which I helped pull down,” Khalil told reporters on the fifth anniversary of the statue’s toppling. “I will protect the statue more than my own self.”
On the fifth anniversary of the toppling of the statue in Firdoos Square, the area was almost deserted. There was a ban on vehicles imposed by the Iraqi and U.S. authorities to prevent resistance attacks. Every April 9, the square is off-limits to most Iraqis. The original plan was for George Bush to ride in a victory parade at Firdoos Square on the first anniversary of the destruction of the statue. He envisioned a couple of million Iraqis cheering him on while he waved from his limousine. Hundreds of millions (possibly billions) of people saw the original photos of Iraqis assisting the U.S. in tearing down the statue of Saddam Hussein, yet few read the follow-up articles of four and five years after the fact.
On July 3, 2003, George Bush was asked at a press conference about Iraqis resisting the U.S. occupation. He said, “There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is ‘bring them on.” A few months after that statement, a large-scale resistance was underway and U.S. casualties were mounting. On a video released by a resistance group, a spokesperson stated, “Mr. Bush said to ‘bring them on,’ and so we have in such a way that he could not imagine.”
On July 22, 2003, the world was again shown the brutality and inhumanity of the occupation of Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed in a six-hour raid on the house in which they were staying. The military actions consisted of hundreds of U.S. soldiers accompanied by helicopters. Thousands of rounds of ammunition as well as rockets and missiles struck the house. When the fireworks were over, the bullet-ridden bodies of the Hussein brothers were taken to a morgue and their gory pictures were shown on television to the world. What the U.S. did not allow to be shown was the body of Qusay’s 14-year-old son who was also chopped to pieces.
The U.S. is the same country that lambasted Somalis for showing pictures of citizens dragging a dead U.S. soldier through the streets of Mogadishu. The Somali actions were called despicable and horrendous. However, with the Hussein brothers, the words changed and the U.S. bragged to the world about their demise. The Somali demonstration was barbaric, yet the U.S. took pride in showing bodies that looked like they were minced in a meat grinder.
When the U.S. captured Saddam Hussein in December 2003, they heralded the event as the beginning of the demise of the Iraqi resistance. Just the opposite occurred. Instead of the Iraqi public considering Saddam a “spent force,” many rallied in his support. Demonstrations broke out in praise of the Iraqi president. Even though the U.S. tried to denigrate Saddam and said that he was found in a “spider hole,” the Iraqi public did not believe the scenario. In fact, Saddam Hussein was captured in a friend’s house.
The public display of a disheveled Saddam angered even some of the Iraqis who opposed him. Later, it was discovered that the photos were taken after the U.S. drugged Saddam. In this instance, the lack of knowledge of Arab culture again hurt the U.S. and made the public even more resistant to the occupation.
From 2004 on, the resistance grew. But, there were new entities that sprung up that made Iraq a violent nation. Those to whom the U.S. entrusted power, many Iran-supporting Shi’ites, escalated the violence by allowing death squads to take over parts of the country.
Prior to the March 2003 invasion, Baghdad was the crown jewel of the Arab world. It had endured occupations, wars, natural disasters and embargoes, yet it always remained the capital of the Arab world. The U.S. occupation changed all that.
From 2004 onward, the city of Baghdad became a venue of ethnic cleansing in which tens of thousands of citizens were killed or had to flee the city. Month-after-month saw the escalation of the destruction. U.S. actions, by supporting the death squads, made it possible to destroy the capital.
Today, Baghdad is in shambles. Six years after the invasion, electricity still remains a luxury that most citizens only have for a couple of hours a day. All the previous neighborhoods have changed. What has not been destroyed, looks entirely different. Many sections are defended by citizen militias. Plus, 28 areas of the city have been surrounded by 12-foot-high concrete walls. The inhabitants must pass checkpoints just to leave their area.
Baghdad is no longer Baghdad and there is little to show that the future will bring the city back to its former greatness.
The U.S. gambled that the Iraqis would welcome its soldiers as liberators. They lost the gamble. The big losers are the Iraqis who bore the brunt of lies and deceit as well as missiles, bombs, bullets, rockets, and chemical weapons.
More than six years after an invasion that the experts said would take only a few weeks, Iraq is in turmoil. Sectarian differences are the rule and there is no program to stop these actions that once were unheard of in Iraq. One thing is sure, the occupation did not go according to U.S. plans and the Iraqis have not been the only recipients of violence. An Iraqi resistance comprised of various factions is strong enough to keep the U.S. hands tied in Iraq for years. Only when the occupation forces totally leave Iraq will there be a solution to the internal affairs of the country.
One person’s assessment of what would occur after an invasion was very precise, however. Mohammed Sahaff, the Iraqi Information Minister, aka “Baghdad Bob,” told the world:
Do not be hasty because your disappointments will be huge. You will reap nothing from this aggressive war, which you launched on Iraq, except for disgrace and defeat. We will embroil them, confuse them and keep them in the quagmire. They cannot just enter a country of 26 million people and lay besiege to them. They are the ones who will find themselves under siege.
Shortly after the statement, a reporter laughed at Sahaff and pointed to an area behind him and said, “Look. There are already Americans in Baghdad.” Sahaff looked and saw a U.S. tank and said, “We’ve got them just where we want them.” The audience of reporters laughed loudly and Sahaff left the podium for the last time.
The world scoffed at Sahaff’s statement. Internet sites sprung up making fun of the Minister. Coffee mugs and t-shirts were being sold that mocked his words. Today, there are few websites offering such items.
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