Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The End of the War in Iraq


In July of 2002 the CIA entered Iraq with the goal of preparing the way for an invasion by the United States. They did this by attempting to turn Iraqi military commanders, to persuade them to surrender to U.S. forces after the invasion commenced rather than fight. They were also there to identify high value targets for future destruction.
By August of that year elements of the U.S. and British Air Force were dropping enough ordinance to count as "a full air offensive," in the so-called "No-Fly Zone). The bombing was designed to "degrade" the Iraqi air defense system before an invasion.
These actions alone might constitute "acts of war," in and of themselves.
President George W. Bush spoke at the UN in September accusing Iraq of the production and use of weapons of mass destruction (biological weapons, chemical weapons, and long-range missiles), all in violation of U.N. resolutions.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed in November, which called for Iraq to comply with international inspections of its weapons capabilities and inventory. Iraq, while denying all charges, announced that it would permit the re-entry of United Nations arms inspectors into Iraq. The United States characterized this as a ploy by the country's leaders and continued to call for a Security Council resolution which would authorize the use of military force
The Bush administration wanted to go to war.
It wanted to go to war so bad it actually made up evidence, such as these "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs), and attempts to import yellow cake uranium. It manufactured "Top Secret" intelligence it would then leak to the media so it wasn't top secret anymore, and after which it could then use to further their false argument. Anyone who stood in their way was fired, or discredited. The Vice President, Dick Cheney was most likely responsible for the outing of a working covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame, because her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson had written an op-ed in the New York Times stating he had found no evidence that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium in Niger, which was a direct contradiction of what the President had said in January during the State of the Union address, that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
The outing was an act of treason. Only one person was found guilty of anything to do with this horrendous act of betrayal, and that was only for acts of perjury, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. No one was held accountable for the actual outing. The Vice President's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, fined and ordered to community service. President Bush, who had presided over 152 capital punishment executions while Governor of Texas, commuted Libby's sentence to zero prison time because he thought the sentence had been "excessive."
In any case, the Bush administration continued its push for war. In February of 2003 Secretary of State Colin Powell took information provided to him by the CIA for an unconventional weapons program being maintained by Saddam. His mission was to garner international support for military action against Iraq. He had graphs and everything! Unfortunately for him, the United States, and the world, his information was all wrong.
But that didn't stop Bush from acting on it. In March of 2003 the invasion of Iraq began. The legality of the invasion was always in question. The U.S. and Britain said that existing UN Security Council resolutions, and later inspections of Iraqi weapons systems gave them all the authorization they needed. The UN felt otherwise. The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in September 2004 that: "From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it [the war] was illegal." Many legal experts and other international leaders have argued that it was illegal. I argue that it was illegal. Critics of the invasion have challenged the U.S. and U.K.s assertions of legality, arguing that an additional Security Council resolution, which the United States and Great Britain failed to obtain, would have been necessary to specifically authorize the invasion.
"The invasion of Iraq was neither in self-defense against armed attack nor sanctioned by UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force by member states and thus constituted the crime of war of aggression, according to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Geneva. A "war waged without a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council would constitute a flagrant violation of the prohibition of the use of force.” We note with “deep dismay that a small number of states are poised to launch an outright illegal invasion of Iraq, which amounts to a war of aggression.”
The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg held following World War II that the waging of a war of aggression is:
"essentially an evil thing...to initiate 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."
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, all of them, and many more, turned our country, the United States of America, into a rouge nation, uncontrolled by international law, and a danger to the world at large. They are, all of them, guilty of crimes against humanity. Yet the Obama Administration has failed to bring them to justice. That dear readers, is truly a shameful thing.
In 2008, his last year in office, Bush negotiated a U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which established that U.S. combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30 of 2009, and all U.S. forces to be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2011, excluding certain circumstances. It also stipulated that U.S. contractors working for U.S. forces would be subject to Iraqi criminal law, while contractors working for the State Department and other U.S. agencies would retain their immunity.
Now, after 8 years, 263 days since Secretary of State Powell presented non-evidence of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program, 8 years, 218 days since the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq, 8 years, 178 days since President George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, 4,479 unnecessary US military fatalities, hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths of innocent Iraqi nationals, more than 9,000 Iraqi military and police killed, more than 30,000 unnecessary US military injuries, over 1,300 unnecessary contractor fatalities, over 10,500 wounded or injured, over 130 unnecessary deaths of journalists and 50 media support workers, more than 2.8 million internally displaced Iraqis citizens, after $806 billion in federal funding for the Iraq War through the fiscal year 2011, somewhere between $3 to $5 trillion in total economic cost to the United States of the Iraq war according to economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Blimes, over $60 billion in US expenditures lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and with 0 weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, President Obama announced last Friday that all U.S. troops would be out of that country by the end of the year.
Seemingly this is in accordance with Bush's Status of Forces Agreement, although it hasn't stopped the Republicans for criticizing the action. Coming off a slew of foreign policies victories such as the execution of Osama bin Laden, the death of Muammar Qaddafi and end of the U.S. mission in Libya, and now the withdrawal of forces from Iraq, Obama can't get any respect at all from the right. According to them, we are now endangering recent advances in security gains by leaving, and by leaving will open the door for Iran to meddle in Iraq's internal affairs. According to Republican politicians such as John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, not to mention those running for the Republican presidential nomination, there will be no time when it is safe to exit Iraq, or Afghanistan for that matter. This coincides with the rebirth of the neo con movement with the likes of Charles Krauthammer of the Fox Propaganda Network, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, and former UN Ambassador, John Bolton. http://mediamatters.org/research/201110240008
As Chris Matthews said on his show yesterday, "He [Obama] couldn't pull their own mothers out of a burning house without getting criticized."
Which is true.
To put things in perspective though, if it were up to the U.S. military, and the government of Iraq, and certainly the war profiteers in the United States and elsewhere, the troops would stay in that country after the December 31st deadline (a US troop presence would be needed to train the Iraqi military on new American equipment, and if sectarian tensions flared up again and threatened to plunge the country into another civil war). However, the U.S. pressed Iraqi officials on the sticky point of granting our soldiers immunity from Iraqi law before they were ready to breach the idea to their Iraqi constituents, thus pretty much bungling these negotiations, as it turns out, in a good way, at least for those of us who want to see total withdrawal of troops as fast as possible. The Iraq government, put on the spot, refused the immunity stipulation and Obama responded with the announcement of total troop withdrawal (although the possibility remains that Iraq might welcome a reintroduction of U.S. troops at some future date according to their needs, though how Obama would frame this to the American people is unclear). So in other words the Obama administration has inadvertently complied with the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, and once and for all is ending the worst foreign policy incident in the history of the United States.
We'll still be there of course.
"As part of a new agreement there will be Americans in Iraq training and assisting the Iraqi armed forces," Qubad Talabani, the Kurdistan regional government representative in Washington and the son of Iraq's president, told The Daily Beast. "These Americans will not be combat troops but they will be US soldiers."
Huummm. That doesn't sound like a total troop withdrawal to me. Does it to you, dear readers?
And... the United States will still keep about 160 military personnel to guard its embassy (the largest embassy in the world... don't want to waste that, do we?) in Baghdad and manage the continuing military relationship. There will also be 4,000 to 5,000 private State Department security contractors, as well as a significant C.I.A. presence.
Secretary of State Clinton has stated the United States will be keeping a close eye on what's happening in the country (a clear signal to Iran to keep from interfering in Iraq's affairs any more than it usually does), and that she's looking forward to "A new democracy," in Iraq. "Freedom, democracy, and opportunities they [the Iraqi people] never had under Saddam Hussein." She pointed out that the Iraqi people are exceptionally nationalistic, and won't stand for any interference from their Iranian neighbors, especially since Iraq is looking forward to maximizing on its oil reserves, looking to surpass Saudi Arabia in total output within the decade.
We shall see.
What's next for Obama foreign policy? According to popular wisdom it doesn't matter, at least as it affects his reelection bid next year, with the economy being at the forefront of the American public's interest, with things unlikely to improve a great deal due to Republican obstructionism.
However I for one certainly wouldn't mind seeing us getting out of that other unnecessary war, the first one we started over ten years ago in Afghanistan.
Obama said in his announcement that it was time to bring our troops home and start rebuilding this country... the United States. I agree.
But we need to bring them all home.
It's certainly past the time to do so.

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