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What became of the US’s ’90-day’ occupation of Iraq? |
Sunday, February 15, 2009
In February 2003, with the American invasion of Iraq just weeks away, sources in the Bush administration told Newsweek magazine that they were expecting a post-war occupation of Iraq of 30 to 90 days! “Every day you get past three months, you’ve got to expect peacekeepers to have a bull’s-eye on their head,” the sources explained.
Like so many other members of the US mainstream media, Newsweek took the Bush administration’s assertion at face value and did not express any skepticism about whether that 90-day time-frame could be achieved or not.
Six years down the road from when the Newsweek story was published, a US occupation force of 150,000 troops is still in Iraq and the killing continues.
US military authorities have repeatedly said have that they do not keep count of the Iraqi dead – as if only American deaths matter. Such statements illustrate the inhumanly callous attitude of the US military.
According to a study conducted by the respected British medical journal The Lancet, however, more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The death toll includes thousands of women and children.
And a study published in September last year by another British group puts the tally even higher, saying that over a million Iraqis have died in the conflict.
In June 2004 the Bush administration announced a so-called “transfer of sovereignty” to an Iraqi government. But how can sovereignty have been “transferred” to an Iraqi government when the country continues to be occupied by foreign troops?
Before the invasion of Iraq, Pentagon officials also claimed that Iraq’s oil wealth would make it unnecessary to ask other countries for financial help with the reconstruction of the country.
In a speech to the “Veterans of Foreign Wars” in Washington in early March 2003, then-US Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz – a charter member of the neo-con cabal at the heart of the Bush administration – said ruling Iraq would be like ruling liberated France after World War II.
So what became of all those Bush administration fantasies? Well, the 90-day occupation of Iraq has already turned into a 2,190-day occupation and counting, with no end in sight. Shades of General Zia-ul-Haq’s infamous “90 days” – which ended up lasting more than 11 years!
As for the Bush administration’s claim that Iraq’s oil wealth would make it unnecessary to ask other countries for financial help to rebuild Iraq, the US subsequently started going around hat in hand to other countries seeking financial contributions for that very purpose, as witnessed at the Madrid donors’ conference back in late 2003.
In another irony, in late 2003 the Bush administration also tried to persuade the United Nations to bail it out in Iraq. Yet only a year earlier the administration was arguing that the UN was in danger of becoming “irrelevant.”
In a nationally-broadcast speech on September 7, 2003, President George W. Bush once again sought to mislead Congress and the American people into supporting his administration’s policies in Iraq. Despite record deficits in the federal budget and draconian cutbacks in government support for health care, housing, education, the environment and public transportation schemes in the United States, Bush asked American taxpayers to shell out an additional $ 87 billion to support his unprovoked and totally illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Of this $ 87 billion, Bush said, he wanted $ 66 billion in additional spending in fiscal 2004 for US military operations in Iraq and $ 21 billion for Iraq’s reconstruction. And that was just for starters. According to US officials, Iraq’s reconstruction will cost more than $ 100 billion.
So where would the other $ 79 billion come from? At a congressional hearing in Washington in September 2003, a Bush administration official said, in a reply to persistent questioning by Democratic senators, that it would “hopefully” come from other countries.
That was some hope – given the opposition in countries around the world to the US war against Iraq. Even the $ 15 billion pledged by other countries at the Madrid donors’ conference under US arm-twisting failed to materialise.
As of October 1, 2008 (when the US fiscal year 2009 commenced), the Iraq war had cost US taxpayers an estimated one trillion dollars. Meanwhile, the US military budget has shot up to over $ 500 billion a year, accounting for more than half the total military spending of all the other countries in the world put together.
In his September 7, 2003 speech, Bush also once again tried to link the threat to American security from terrorist groups to phony threats originating in Iraq. Not only did he try to link the attacks on US soldiers in Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, he also tried to depict all the current violence against Americans and other foreigners in Iraq as part of this terrorist threat.
In fact, no link has ever been established between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the 9/11 attacks. Nor can the attacks on US soldiers in Iraq be classified as “terrorism.”
The Fourth Geneva Convention – to which the United States is a signatory – states that people under foreign military occupation have the right to militarily engage armed uniformed occupation forces. This is not the same thing as terrorism, which refers to attacks deliberately targeted against unarmed civilians. It was therefore utterly misleading for Bush to try to convince the American public and the world at large that the two phenomena are the same.
Below are some excerpts from Bush’s September 7, 2003 speech that were particularly misleading:
*“And we acted in Iraq, where the former regime sponsored terror…”
According to US intelligence agencies, however, Iraqi “support for terrorism” primarily took place in the 1980s, when the United States was quietly supporting Saddam Hussein’s regime, and had dropped off dramatically since then. No Iraqi links have been found to Al Qaeda or other alleged “terrorist groups” that currently “threaten” the United States.
*“…possessed and used weapons of mass destruction…”
Iraq, reportedly, did use chemical weapons in the 1980s when the regime was being supported by the US government, but not since then. In any case, it hardly lies in the mouth of the US to accuse Iraq of possessing and using weapons of mass destruction when the US itself possesses by far the world’s biggest arsenal of such weapons (enough to wipe out humanity several times over).
Civilian deaths caused by US bombing in the war against Afghanistan in 2001-2002 and in Iraq in 2003 were at least three times greater than the total number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks against the United States.
Today, the only country in the Middle East that possesses weapons of mass destruction is the US’s close ally Israel, which has more than 400 nuclear weapons including hydrogen bombs. Yet there have never been any calls from Washington for Israel to get rid of its WMD.
*“…and for 12 years defied the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council.”
This assertion of Bush’s concerning Iraq’s “failure” to live up to the demands of the Security Council regarding its destruction and accountability for weapons of mass destruction was contradicted by former UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix himself, who said in a CCN interview on September 7, 2003 that the 12,000-page declaration submitted by Iraq to the Security Council on December 7, 2002 stating that it had destroyed all its WMD and no longer possessed any such weapons was “probably true.”
In September last year, retired US Marine General Anthony Zinni, former head of the US Central Command, lambasted the Bush administration’s postwar planning, warning that “there is no strategy or mechanism for putting the pieces together. As a result, the US is “in danger of failing,” he told an audience of US Navy and Marine officers. Press reports said the officers broke out in prolonged applause.
A few days before Zinni’s speech, someone in the Pentagon had leaked a top-secret analysis – commissioned by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff – that had also been harshly critical of the Pentagon’s occupation planning. In his September 7, 2003 speech, Bush described the US war against Iraq as “one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history.” Swift it might have been, but it was hardly “humane”. According to independent estimates, in the first two months of the war alone, more than 15,000 innocent Iraqi civilians including women and children were killed in US bombing raids. Yet Bush had the gall to describe the war as “one of the most humane military campaigns in history.” One doesn’t know which version of history he was referring to, or just how he would define the word ‘humane’.