By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
In nearly two weeks that have followed the 10th anniversary of the start of the US war of aggression against Iraq on March 19, 2003, the officialdom and corporate media of the US and the UK have played up the issue of whether the war was caused by inaccurate or wrong military intelligence or whether the war was a matter of choice or necessity.
They raise no question about the criminality of the war of aggression and no one among the aggressors from the level of Bush and Blair down is being held to account for the colossal crimes of committing aggression, violating the rights of an entire people, destroying the lives, personal possessions and social infrastructure of the Iraqi people; and plundering their natural and social wealth.
The imperialist aggressors and all their minions in the bourgeois mass media can no longer deny the fact that they used as pretext for the invasion and occupation of Iraq the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed a huge stockpile of nuclear, chemical and other weapons of mass destruction. But they continue to obfuscate the fact that they deliberately made and spread the lie and of course they continue to conceal the root cause of the criminal war of aggression.
The Root Cause of the War of Aggression
The root cause of the war of aggression is the US imperialist interest in seeking ownership and control over the rich oil and gas resources of Iraq. It coveted these for a long time and was hostile to the Saddam Hussein regime for asserting the national sovereignty of Iraq and the Iraqi people over their own natural resources and course of development.
The US launched the first war of aggression against Iraq in 1991 in order to wrest from the sovereign nation control over its resources. In the most cowardly fashion, it used its air power to destroy drinking water, sanitation, sewage, irrigation, communications and pharmaceutical industry facilities, as well as the civilian electric grid and basic food supply. It imposed on Iraq 13 years of U.S./U.N. starvation sanctions causing the death of more than one million Iraqis, 500,000 of whom were children.
By September 2000, the US had made a blueprint for a global Pax Americana, based on the use of its so-called broad spectrum power and the crucial effectiveness of high-tech military power against recalcitrant countries like Iraq. The neoconservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC) wrote the document, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources For a New Century, to guide George W. Bush and his ruling clique.
In April 2002 in a US-UK summit at the ranch of the Bush family in Texas, Bush and Blair agreed to take military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein. On July 23, 2002, Blair convened a meeting of his inner circle that included Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and MI6 Chief Sir Richard Dearlove to discuss the matter.
In the meeting, a briefing paper was discussed in which it was stated that since regime change by a foreign power was illegal it was necessary to “create the conditions” which would make it legal. And the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction was decided upon as the legal pretext for international action. Thereafter, the Western corporate media dutifully did the dirty work of repeating the big lie over and over again to deceive the people.
The US proceeded to apply its military doctrine of “shock and awe” or rapid dominance. This involves the use of overwhelming high-tech military power and spectacular displays of force and destruction. As early as 1996, Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade developed the doctrine for the US National Defense University to employ the “superior technology, precision engagement and information dominance” of the US.
Consequences of the War of Aggression
The “shock and awe” strategy against Iraq involved the use of cruise missiles and various types of planes, dropping uranium-tipped bombs, white phosphorus bombs, cluster bombs, carpet bombs and other types of bombs in order to disrupt and destroy the means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other parts of the infrastructure. The US military strategists set the objective of achieving a level of national shock similar to the effect of dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Over one million Iraqi people died due to the invasion, the occupation and the denial of health and safety provisions for children and adults. More than a million people many of them civilians have been injured or have suffered from illnesses. Cancer and birth defects from the effects of white phosphorous and depleted uranium continue to plague the population.
More than a quarter of the population were killed, disabled or dislocated due to the US invasion and occupation. A total of five million Iraqis have become refugees in their own country and abroad. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2.7 million are internally displaced and 2.2 million are refugees, mainly in neighboring countries.
In 2007, five million Iraqi children or one out of every four Iraqi children below 18 were estimated to have lost one or both parents. In 2008, only about 50 percent of primary-school children were attending classes. Before the war, Iraq had the highest literacy rate in the Middle East. Now it has one of the lowest. Women suffered great losses in terms of education, employment, child care, nutrition and personal protection during the US occupation.
The country’s infrastructure lies in ruins. The social fabric is torn by sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis who had lived in relative peace and inter-married for centuries before the US invasion and occupation. The social wealth and even the museums of the country have been looted. Bureaucratic corruption is rampant and sectarian violence is used to keep the rulers in power. High-level bureaucrats benefit scandalously from collaborating with the US and other imperialists in alienating the oil industry from the people and in all kinds of government contracts.
The biggest beneficiary of the US war of aggression are of course the US imperialists themselves. They have taken ownership and control over the oil, gas and other resources of Iraq. The imperial overlord Paul Bremer III issued 100 orders to guarantee to the US and other foreign corporations such rights as to enjoy 100 percent ownership of Iraqi assets; to repatriate capital and remit all profits; to import goods and services without restriction; and to make long-term contracts of acquisition and lease. In the formal transfer of power to Iraqi sovereignty, these colonial guarantees remain binding and in effect.
The US administrators confiscated all Iraqi assets and funds all over the world, amounting to USD 13 billion and took from the UN the accumulated oil-for-food program funds amounting to USD 21 billion. They also seized USD 10 billion from the Iraqi Central Bank and other local banks. The handling of these funds have been characterized by secrecy and corruption. Thus, USD 40 billion is reportedly unaccounted for. Even the USD 23 billion hypocritically labeled as Western aid fund for postwar Iraq is apparently stolen and is described as “not properly accounted for.”
The US corporations most benefited by the US invasion and occupation are those in the military industrial complex. Most notorious of these are Exxon/Mobil Corp. and Chevron Texaco which gained control over the oil and gas resources and doubled their earnings and profits from 2003 to 2006; and Halliburton’s KBR which enjoyed supply contracts with US agencies and grabbed USD 17.2 billion in war-related revenues during the same period.
Costs to the US and the American People
But the US also suffered heavy costs. According to official US reports, 4,448 US soldiers died and 32,221 were wounded and 3,400 so-called US contractors died. It is fair to estimate that at least five thousand U.S. soldiers died in the war. Others have been traumatized and continue to suffer from psychological disorders.
More than 1.1 million US soldiers were rotated in and out of Iraq during the occupation. Forty per cent of the veterans are known to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. A significant number have committed suicide in Iraq and in the US. Tens of thousands more have been victims of non-fatal injuries but continue to suffer from various disabilities.
The financial and economic cost of the war for the US is staggering. According to Joseph E. Stiglitz in his 2008 book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, the US spent USD 3 trillion for the war of aggression against Iraq, deprived the American people of social benefits, aggravated the US debt problem and seriously weakened the US economy. In fact, the US has spent far more than USD 4 trillion if we include the costs of medical care for the veterans, replacement of military equipment, the maintenance of US military bases and a huge US embassy in Baghdad. The cost of maintaining the US embassy alone is USD 600 million per year.
In the face of the ceaseless and continuing armed resistance of the Iraqi people, the US has been forced to cease occupation. It has failed to break the will of the Iraqi people despite the massacre, injury and displacement of millions, the destruction of the social infrastructure, the plunder of Iraqi natural and social wealth, the operation of many US military bases, the instigation of sectarian violence for the purpose of divide and rule, the mass terror campaigns, death squad assassinations and widespread use of torture against the people.
Bush, Blair and their accomplices are guilty of committing a war of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity and peace according to the principles and standards of the Nuremberg Trials and subsequent UN conventions. A war of aggression is defined as a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense and without the approval of the appropriate UN organ.
In carrying out the war of aggression against Iraq, the US committed war crimes and crimes against humanity such as torture of prisoners of war in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons; the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians through bombings, gunfire and deliberate deprivation of medical provisions; the murder of pro-Saddam Baathist officials and employees by death squads; the wanton destruction of hospitals, schools, water facilities, civilian power grids, cities, towns and villages.
Bush could not get the approval of the UN Security Council. He was thus forced to put together a bunch of US flunkeys which he called the “Coalition of the Willing”. Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would later say publicly in 2004 that the war was illegal.
Bush and Blair and their cabal of war makers must be prosecuted for crime against peace (war of aggression), war crimes and crimes against humanity. And it is stated that a war of aggression is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
Resistance of the People of Iraq and the World
The armed resistance of the Iraqi people has dealt heavy blows against the US aggressors and the Iraqi puppet regime. This has forced the US to reduce its troop level, accelerate the recruitment and training of the local mercenary armed forces to do the dirty work for them and formally transfer administrative authority to the puppets servile to US imperialism.
We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, salute the Iraqi people for their heroic revolutionary resistance against US imperialism, its allies and puppets. We congratulate the Iraqi people for winning great victories in their struggle to uphold, defend and advance their national sovereignty and democratic rights.
We commend the Iraqi people for using armed and unarmed forms of struggle against the invasion and occupation of their country by the US imperialists as well as against the use of the puppet government. We praise them for their determination to intensify the struggle until they achieve national and social liberation. We assure them of our continuing solidarity and support.
We likewise salute the people of the world for their acts of solidarity in support of the Iraqi people. The people of the world have always supported the Iraqi people in their struggle for national independence and democracy against US imperialism. We can never forget the tens of millions of people taking to the streetsin 3000 cities all over the world in 2003 in a gigantic effort to stop the US war of aggression.
The Iraqi people have clearly enjoyed the abundant support of the people of the world. We are proud to have participated in the struggle against the US invasion, occupation and plunder of Iraq. We are determined to continue this just and noble struggle for national and social liberation against US imperialism and reaction.