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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/23/13

Republicans and the Iraq War: Ten Years Later

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" Saddam's regime abandoned its biological weapons program and its ambition to obtain advanced biological weapons in 1995. While it could have re-established an elementary BW program within weeks, ISG discovered no indications it was pursuing such a course.

Yes, that's right; Saddam Hussein had been telling the truth when he denied having any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Thus, the only remaining question was: Why did the Bush administration present the world with false assertions about Iraq's WMD?

Members of the Bush administration, as well as their apologists, assert that: (1) virtually everybody believed that Saddam had WMD and (2) they simply acted upon faulty intelligence. What they do not say is: (1) even countries that suspected Saddam had WMD were willing to await the results of the searches being conducted by UN inspectors and (2) the Bush administration had an active informant inside Iraq, who told Bush, Cheney and Rice that Iraq had no WMD.

Iraq's Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, made a deal (worth at least $200,000) to reveal Iraq's military secrets to the CIA. Sabri and some Iraqi scientists told the CIA that Saddam had no WMD. The French, who had tapped Sabri's phone, confirmed that he was telling the truth. But, on 18 September 2002, after CIA director George Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri's information, Bush dismissed it as "the same old thing."

According to Terry Anderson, in his book Bush's Wars, "When a CIA agent insisted on the significance of Sabri's information, one of Tenet's deputies responded, "You haven't figured this out yet. This isn't about intelligence. It's about regime change." [p. 114]

The response by Tenet's deputy in the fall of 2002 substantiated what the head of British Intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair during a secret meeting held some two month earlier, on 23 July 2002. According to the classified minutes of that meeting, subsequently called the Downing Street Memo (which was leaked to the British press in May 2005), the head of British Intelligence, Sir Richard Dearlove, briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers about his recent meeting in the U.S. with President Bush and his top advisers.

As a result of his meeting with Bush, Dearlove was convinced that the U.S. President had decided to attack Iraq. "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy".There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath of military action."

Consequently, Americans have two independent sources that demolish the Bush's administration's attempt to blame "bad intelligence" for their failure to find WMD. In reality, any intelligence about WMD that could be used to incite support for regime change was acceptable and presentable, regardless of the reliability of the source. And any intelligence about WMD that might undermine support for regime change was neither acceptable nor presentable, even when the source was highly reliable. Why? Because the members of Bush's team already "knew" that Saddam had WMD.

The only thing that mattered to the Bush administration was finding a way to garner public and congressional support for regime change in Iraq -- a goal it had established at its first National Security Council meeting in January 2001. The hyping of unsubstantiated intelligence about WMD and al Qaeda allowed them to achieve their criminal objective.

According to a very recent study conducted by scholars for Brown University, from 2003 to 2013 the invasion resulted in 189,000 direct war deaths, including the deaths of 4,488 American soldiers, 3,418 U.S. contractors, 10,819 allied military and police, 36,000 opposition forces and 134,000 innocent civilians. Many indirect deaths, perhaps numbering into the hundreds of thousands also resulted from that invasion.

The invasion, insurgency and subsequent civil war caused massive refugee problems as millions uprooted themselves or were forcibly uprooted to other parts of the country or to other countries. According to the Brown University study, "The percent of Iraqis living in slum conditions tripled from 17 percent prior to the 2003 invasion to 53 percent in 2010."

Regarding ethnic cleansing, the Brown study concludes: "Studies have shown that the drop in sectarian violence after 2007 was not a result of the US and Iraqi military surge, but a consequence of ethno-religious homogenization. As each group and sub-group claimed its own territory, there was no one left to kill." Nevertheless, to this day, Iraq suffers from a low-grade insurgency against the increasingly authoritarian Maliki government.

The war of aggression and the subsequent torture of Iraqis by Americans at Abu Ghraib provoked the hatred of the United States by much of the world's population. Some governments became reluctant to share intelligence with the U.S. The war caused a spike in terrorist activity and resulted in the rise of Iran as a regional power.

Tens of thousands of American soldiers returned home missing arms or legs, suffering severe head wounds or, in the best case, terrible PTSD. Some committed suicide, while others saw their marriages collapse.

Nevertheless, according to a very recent Gallup Poll, "66% of respondents who identify as or lean Republican say the U.S. did not make a mistake in sending troops to fight in Iraq." 73% of Democratic leaners or identifiers saw the military campaign as a mistake, as did 53% of all respondents.

We shouldn't be surprised, however, that two-thirds of America's Republicans respond like morons. After all, according to a poll completed in May 2012, 63 percent of Republican respondents still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003. (Only 27 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats were so stupid.)

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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