From Iraq into the Abyss?
Iraq Plus 20 Part II
When the hijacked planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, pierced the Pentagon and buried into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, most of our thoughts were about the cruel, horrific shattering of family bonds, the forever severing of deep friendships, the senseless destruction of human life. More than that America was under threat and fear prevailed.
The never-ending heartache of loss was on display in photos with messages that ringed the fence of a church near ground zero in New York: “Have you seen him?” “Please, any information, call…” “Please help us find our wife and mother.”
Hundreds of messages. No responses.
I was in New York a few days after 9/11 and witnessed the devastation. I traveled to the site where Flight 93 impacted. And I had heard the plane hit the Pentagon, as I joined hundreds evacuating the Congressional House Office Buildings in Washington, D.C.
The personalization of immense loss compounded our anger and despair. We identified with the victims. We identified with the families. We mourned with them. We united in our grief.
The day after 9/11, with the nation frozen in fear and trauma, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speculated to the Bush inner circle that the attacks presented an “opportunity” to strike Iraq, according to Bob Woodward, author of ‘Plan of Attack’.
Except Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
In my previous Substack post I detailed the carefully practiced lies, that were disseminated to ignite the war on Iraq. What enabled the execution of such a plan was the skillful manipulation of the fears of Americans.
The US military attack on Iraq commenced on March 20, 2003, after a highly structured domestic and international media campaign of misinformation and disinformation, by the Bush Administration, which succeeded in getting major media and Congressional support.
We were introduced to “Shock and Awe,” a military sword of Damocles flashing again and again in the starlight, against the bright yellow-orange glow of U.S. missiles hitting targets in Baghdad, all streamed live into our homes via network television. This is when an extraordinary disconnect occurred.
We were attacking Iraq!
No, wait. We were attacking the Iraqi people.
We were blowing up innocent people’s homes, businesses, places of worship, marketplaces, schools, nurseries. We killed Iraqis en masse. And neither the Bush Administration nor Congress, nor the embedded media showed the remotest interest in the casualties which the US attack on Iraq inflicted on its people.
This was, by all definitions an illegal war of aggression against a country that had little or no ability to defend itself against the mighty U.S. war machine. The media coverage was state-sponsored war porn. The words of the poet Yeats well described the U.S. presence in Iraq: “Everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
After 9/11, I lamented the people on the hijacked flights, those victims who worked in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and their families. When the U.S. unleashed “Shock and Awe” upon the people of Iraq, my thoughts turned to Iraqi families shattered, to social structures lovingly knit together over generations, destroyed.
Wiped from the earth were ceremonies of birth and marriage, music, dance, literature, the stories handed down through word of mouth, the exchanges among friends and even strangers, woven into a beautiful fabric of life that informed an ancient, rich culture, in some places pulverized, vaporized, as if it never existed.
In October of 2006, an article in Lancet stated that 654,965 had already died as a result of the war. In January 2008, Reuters reported that one of Britain’s leading polling groups set the total of Iraqi deaths attributable to the war at slightly over a million people.
Numbers do not adequately communicate the depth of human suffering, but scale is instructive. Iraq, then a nation of 27 million people, suffered a million dead, millions injured and at least one million children orphaned and 4 million people displaced.
The war against the Iraqis was a criminal act of immense proportions. U.S. political leaders, and their complicit media counterparts, have been shielded from domestic and international courts for their actions that resulted in the mass deaths of innocent people.
In a just world, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and a long list of US government officials and their propagandists would be held accountable to both national and international law.
Think about this: If a comparable disaster had been visited upon the United States, then a nation of 290 million, we would have proportionally recorded 11 million dead, tens of millions injured, at least 11 million orphans, 44 million displaced. Would we have demanded justice?
The Bush Administration, their ideological retainers and supporters in the media, sent nearly 5,000 America soldiers to their deaths, and left tens of thousands permanently injured. Their service was honorable, but those who sent them were not. We owe their families continued appreciation and full support. We also owe them the truth.
The war’s dark legacy continues. The Iraq High Commission for Human Rights reported in December 2021 that there were 5 million orphaned children in Iraq and 4.5 million children in families living below the poverty line, with a million child laborers.
Consider the extraordinary level of deprivation experienced by the Iraqi people, without clean water, access to food, health care, their homes and places of work destroyed, schools laid waste, the wholesale destruction of infrastructure. Iraqis were, in a turn of a phrase from Winston Churchill, ‘stripped bare, with the curse of nothingness.’ This was no natural disaster. This was made by the American government and paid for by American taxpayers.
I ran for Congress so that I could represent the social and economic interests of working men and women. I intended to spend my service championing education, health care, pension protections and to save America’s manufacturing base.
I soon found myself trying to forestall one military adventure after another, which inevitably drained trillions of dollars away from domestic needs. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, America was losing its way by attempting to force “democracy” upon distant countries, while undermining democracy and the rule of domestic and international law.
The shameful lack of empathy in the White House, and in the U.S. Congress, for the people of Iraq was alarming. Those of us who raised questions about the legality of the war, and who pointed out that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and who reminded media and government officials alike that there was no proof Iraq’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction actually existed, were roundly chastised and ridiculed.
In a concerted effort to beat down the opposition, mainstream media, peddling the least intelligent positions that the U.S. government had to offer, brainwashed the American people with anti-Iraq propaganda. Those of us who dared object were condemned.
I answered this deadly war drumbeat as best I could through parliamentary procedures, 341 speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to the war. I made two runs for president to attempt to rally the American people behind a fundamental transition in American foreign policy doctrine from militarism’s ‘Peace Through Strength’ to diplomacy’s, ‘Strength Through Peace’.
As a result of the War upon Iraq, America shifted its priorities ever more firmly to conquest. The constitutional doctrine of separation of powers has been shredded, establishing an imperial executive. The government has shifted the resources of our country away from a domestic agenda to a war-fighting mode. It has ever more firmly entrenched the military-industrial complex in the affairs of the nation.
The war against Iraq legitimized conquest for resources such as oil. It has set the very finances of our nation upon the precipice of unsustainable debt. It established the assassination of foreign leaders as a U.S. government policy. It normalized the use of depleted uranium munitions creating multi-generational birth defects. It has further energized a culture of violence and polarization.
The U.S. government broke Iraq, beginning on March 20, 2003 and committed wholesale aggravated, premeditated murder against Iraqis. Our leaders, their propagandists and war profiteers manipulated our deeply held feelings about freedom, fairness, and justice and our fears, and misled us in an unholy endeavor around which they sacrilegiously wrapped the American flag.
Imagine Iraq as a trial run for the next war; for ever-expanding military budgets, impunity from international trial; for media manipulation that makes the public fearful enough to accept their own economic demise in exchange for a false sense of security through militarism.
These individuals were members of the bi-partisan consensus that promoted the Iraq War: Then-Senator Joe Biden, Democratic Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Antony Blinken, and U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Victoria Nuland, were themselves promoted politically, to positions of greater influence where they could wreak even greater havoc upon the world.
These same individuals, Vice-President Biden, Deputy National Security Advisor, Blinken and assistant Secretary of State, Nuland, were joined by Hillary Clinton acolyte Jake Sullivan (Vice President Biden’s National Security Adviser in 2013), to engineer the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014, and the subsequent sacrificing of Ukrainians in the U.S. proxy war with Russia.
It is critical to remember that in 2013, then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, rejected a NATO-inspired military agreement, in the guise of economic reform and EU association, that was aimed at severing Ukraine’s connections with Russia, and advancing a western geo-political agenda.
The West exploited the desperation of Ukrainians whose average monthly minimum wage was then about $150, violently propelled protests with the help of Right Sector and Svoboda parties, and ousted Yanukovych in a pro-western coup. Ukrainians thus became pawns in an international power struggle catalyzed with the help of Biden, Blinken, Nuland and Sullivan.
Now, in the White House and suspected of colluding to blow up the Nord Stream pipelines, President Biden, National Security Adviser Sullivan, Secretary of State Blinken and Undersecretary of State Nuland are positioning the U.S. to pivot from the proxy war with Russia.
Ukraine will be abandoned so the U.S. can prepare for war with China by 2025. This dangerous brinkmanship is supported by both parties in Congress, the media and so-called think tanks cashing in from military build-ups and unnecessarily created conflict.
How do we, as a nation, recover from the heinous deeds committed in our name against the people of Iraq? How do we stop government leaders from lying to us and the media, to stoke and to incite wider and wider wars?
The people who led us into the Iraq War must be held accountable. We must teach the real history of the Iraq war, the deceptions and propaganda a complicit media communicated unquestioningly to the American people.
The media must question the government’s current policies and not swallow sensational stories that government officials peddle for their own narrow, venal concerns. We need a return to investigative journalism, where the media properly holds government to account, instead of being compliant spear-carriers.
We must insist upon the constitutional safeguards which exist to insure such foreign adventures never happen again. Congress must return to its mandated role as a co-equal branch of government. It must guard against executive usurpation of the war power, as directed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.
Congress must continually challenge the executive branch’s cause for military action by (1) insisting that intelligence be shared with all members of Congress and (2) bringing intelligence agencies forward to authenticate information attributed to them, either by anonymous news reports or the statements of top-ranking administration officials. There must be severe sanctions for presenting fake intelligence.
We must insist on strict accountability for those who have or will mislead us into aggressive wars, masked as “defending America and its values.” We, as a nation, cannot continue to act as if the U.S. can do whatever we wish to any other nation we please, without incurring the enmity of the world and endangering the future of the United States of America.
Unless we change course, the Pentagon budget and military contractors will soon command over 50% of U.S. discretionary spending. Congress has recently given the Administration an historic $858 billion for defense, an astounding $45 billion more than requested, to help sustain at least 750 military bases in 80 countries. This is a classic definition of a national death march.
Today, amidst rising the interest rates, bank failures, layoffs in tech, and with food prices rising sharply, the U.S. is drastically cutting food stamp benefits! We can’t feed our own people, but we have unlimited money for contrived wars everywhere.
It is time to ask, what the hell is the end game? Is there anyone who does not understand that a U.S.-initiated war with China and Russia means assured annihilation? It is time to demand that those who had have led us in this direction be voted out or removed from public office.
We must learn and then teach that it is not patriotic for a nation to wage aggressive war. Aggressive war, as the U.S. practiced in Iraq, does not extend prowess, but instead shows the absence of a moral code and the weakness of our craven, fearful leaders’ minds and the spirits. True strength extends from moral, not military authority. True patriotic leadership focuses on the needs of the American people and on taking care of things here, at home, in the United States.
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