2003 Invasion of Iraq

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Gulf War II or the second Gulf War refers to the war ensuing from the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. (The construction of the Iran-Iraq War as the "first Gulf War", and thus of 2003 as part of a "third Gulf War", can usually be discounted completely.)

Contents

Overview

In the second Gulf War, a bi-partisan Congress ordered Iraq invaded in order to depose its dictator, Saddam Hussein, who the administration alleged was possession of weapons of mass destruction and was conducting an WMD program. Some of the most hysteric rhetoric asserted that Iraq might soon be capable of attacking the United States homeland with nuclear weapons. No such weapons or weapons programs were ever found. Iraq had been effectively disarmed of its capacity to make chemical weapons by the United Nations long before the start of the conflict.

After a relatively easy invasion, the American armed forces became bogged down in a markedly under-planned post-war occupation, with little reassuance coming from Bush-administration predictions of relief via quick Iraqization. A connection betwen the goverment of Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda was used as an explanation for the invasion; however, a 2008 Pentagon study found no link between Saddam's regime and the Al-Qaeda terror network. (Source: Exhaustive review finds no link between Saddam and al Qaida, by Warren Stroebel, March 10, 2008.) After the WMD and terrorism pretexts were shown to be deceptions, the administration deployed democratization as a post-hoc explanation for the invasion.

The U.S. has detained tens of thousands of Iraqis suspected of aiding rebel groups. Relevations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison badly damaged America's reputation for upholding human rights, and greatly aided militias who seek to overthrow the elected government of Iraq. At present, U.S. forces are holding more than 14,000 people in four jails in Iraq. More than half are at Camp Bucca, in the south, while most of Abu Ghraib's prisoners will move to Camp Cropper.

Vigils to Honor 2,000 Killed in Iraq

2000 + 1 Candle Light Vigil Honoring Fallen Soldiers, SF Peninsula
2000 + 1 Candle Light Vigil Honoring Fallen Soldiers, SF Peninsula

On Wednesday evening October 26 2005, 1,354 candlelight vigils were held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to remember and honor our fallen soldiers of the Iraq War. Some honored the fallen soldiers by lighting one candle for each solder killed and sadly added one more candle for a soldier that was killed that day bringing the total to 2001.[1] Politics aside it was a sad day as it took close to an hour to read all the names of the fallen men and women killed in this war.[2]

Quotes from Democrats Leading Up to the War

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line." - President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."

- President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.

"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."

- Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998.

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."

- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."

- Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998.

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998.

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."

- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999.

"There is no doubt that . Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."

The effort by many Democratic politicians to appear every bit as bellicose as their Republican counterparts generated some irresponsible rhetoric. Their failure to take a more principle, more critical view of miltiarism eliminated the most improtant obstcle to the imperialist adventure in Iraq that the second Bush administration was determined to launch even before it had defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan. That means that Democrats own a share, albeit far less than the Republcians, of the responsibility for the quagmire in Iraq and the unfinished war in Afghanistan.

- Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, Dec, 5, 2001.

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."

- Sen. Carl Levin (d, MI), Sept. 19, 2002.

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."

- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seing and developing weapons of mass destruction."

- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002.

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."

- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002.

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years . We also should remember we have alway s underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."

- Sen. Jay Rockerfeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002,

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do."

- Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002.

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."

- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction. "[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."

- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003.

Key Players

Minor Figures

Links

Analysis

News

Contractor Fraud

  • Roughly 50 cases have been filed alleging fraud by American contractors in Iraq. Due to a loophole in the False Claims Act, the administration has been able to delay most of them indefinitely; however, one case has gone to trial, and the firm Custer Battles LLC was acquitted of submitting false claims and fraud.

Civilians killed

A medical study in the journal Lancet, found that 650,000 people have died in Iraq, since the invasion in March 2003. (Source: Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000, by David Brown, Washington Post, October, 11, 2006, p.A12.)

Coalition Casualties

Quagmire prediction

In 1994, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney predicted that invading Baghdad would lead the US into a quagmire. He reiterated these views in 2000. (Source: On Iraq Regime Change, 2007 Cheney Contradicts 2000 Cheney While Dismissing 1994 Cheney, Thinkprogress.org, August 17, 2007)

Quagmire extrication

Having fallen into bin-Ladin's trap, aided by "intelligence" reports as reported by the Bush regime, we have grabbed the Tar Baby. I guess Uncle Remus knew something about oil. Now many of the same individuals who repeated the "intelligence" as facts are falling into Bush's trap and he can say, "Cut and run! Cut and run! Nya, nya, nya, nya, nya; nya nya nya!" We are given a false dichotomy: either we stay in and watch Halliburton grow fat on corpses, or we bomb out and watch totalitarians who use religious ideologies to unite Muslims against "crusaders" take over Iraq.

How can one let go of a tar baby? If you've only touched it with one finger then maybe you can get loose somehow. But thrashing around wildly will not work. We are already going to walk home with some tar stuck on us. In fact, the tar may have preceded us.

Up to this point nobody has come forward with a coherent plan. Bush can claim he knows how to fix things, and he can ask his opposition, "What is wrong with you that you cannot tell everyone how to solve the problem you claim to see? All you can offer is: 'Cut and run!'"

Plans for extrication include:

  • Decide to leave and immediately put plans for withdrawal into operation. Our first open movements would serve as notice to the Iraqis that we are leaving. Let them deal with the rapidly shifting situation as they will.
Disadvantages to that approach:
  • Such an act would be regarded as a betrayal, probably even by the people who most want us to leave. It would remind the world of how we left Vietnam and strengthen the impression that the U.S. is an immoral ally and an inconstant friend.
  • Chaos would surely follow such a move, and chaos favors opportunists.
  • A chaotic state would attract interventionist moves by other powers in the area, primarily Iran. U.S. interests would not be served if Iraq were conquored by Iran.
  • Set a "date certain," warn the Iraqis that they'll be on their own. Then leave. If they can't handle it, T.S.
Disadvantages to that approach:
  • If civil war results in a Shi'a victory, the balance of power in the region could swing strongly in the favor of Iran.
  • If civil war results in division of Iraq into a Kurdish north a Sunni center and a Shi'a south, both Iran and Turkey could be drawn into interventionist activities.
Is there a rational argument that can convince all three sides to remain a single nation, perhaps with three semi-autonomous parts?
  • Conduct a phased withdrawal by which the most fully secured areas in Iraq would be turned over to Iraqi army and police control while U.S. troops moved into the background and reorganized as lightning "cavalry" emergency response teams on call to the Iraqi authorities. Continually increase the area given over entirely to Iraqi control and move U.S. troops as rapidly as possible to sealing off the border with Iran.
Disadvantages to that approach:
  • Domestic U.S. response might be tepid or negative, and our decades old resistance to any public funds being devoted to promoting interests outside the "homeland" might see a resurgence.

See Also

dKos diaries and discussions

Further reading

  • William R. Clark. 2005. Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq, and the Future of the Dollar. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers. ISBN 0865715149.
  • George Packer. 2005. Assassins' Gate. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. ISBN 0374299633.
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