Freedom Rider: America’s war crime in Iraq

Beginning in 1991, the United States government brought what has become a never ending hell to Iraq. President George H.W. Bush’s war that year was followed by devastating sanctions which were continued by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It was bad enough that 500,000 children died because of shortages of food and medicine but, in 2003, Bush the younger and his henchmen and women rolled the dice on invasion and an occupation that lasted for more than ten years. The Project for a New American Century, the 21st century version of Manifest Destiny, demanded a Pax Americana which set out to make the United States the master of the world.

It is unfortunate that Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and company became the only faces of American aggression. They are indeed responsible for the 2003 invasion but imperialism is still on the move and now has a more shrewd personification in the person of Barack Obama.

The corporate media have quite a lot to answer for in their reporting of the Iraqi and American relationship. They take their cue from whoever is in the White House and repeat what countless spokespeople tell them to write and to broadcast. After having accepted the Bush administration policy of embedding journalists with American troops, Iraq was then ignored and disappeared from the consciousness of this country. Recent events have made Iraq a focus of attention once again and the news is still terrible for the people of that country.

ISIS, translated into English as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is the latest head of the fundamentalist Jihadi hydra created by the United States and gulf monarchies. ISIS is making huge territorial gains as the Iraqi army collapses in its wake. The history of American and Saudi collusion to destabilize that region is a long and sad tale. For many years these partners in crime have left a trail of death and devastation in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, as well as in Iraq.

Now the propaganda that Americans have been fed by two presidents and their helpers in the press is falling apart. They have to explain why Iran, a country depicted as our mortal enemy, may end up saving the Iraqi government. Iran has also been devastated by United States sanctions and its very destruction has been openly advocated by Israel and numerous administrations and members of Congress. Iran is now more of a “frenemy” because it supports Iraqi president Maliki against the ISIS threat.

After the deaths of one million people, after the hellish destruction of Fallujah, after the babies deformed by depleted uranium, Iraqis are again fleeing from the disaster of American intervention. As politicians are trotted out to defend their lies and the likes of Tony Blair attempt to deflect responsibility for their evil acts, it is important to remember the extent of the decades long crime.

The press and politicians may speak in terms of the 5,000 American lives lost or the astronomical sums spent, but it is the ongoing war of American terror that must be remembered.

The depiction of George W. Bush as the villain of bad judgment and lies is certainly true, but America’s violence and commission of war crimes should be the central issue when Iraq is discussed so that Democratic Party imperialists aren’t permitted to do likewise.

Very few Americans remember that millions of people around the world foresaw the calamity and acted to try and prevent it. Not only were there huge protests in many nations but there was serious discussion of the extent of American criminality. The World Tribunal on Iraq held a series of meetings from November 2003 through June 2005 in New York, London, Rome, Lisbon, Stockholm, Mumbai, Tunis, Hiroshima, Beirut and other cities. The culminating session in Istanbul produced a Declaration of the Jury of Conscience which spelled out in stark detail the violations of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremburg Principles. The tribunal spared no one, condemning the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom for acts of aggression and the United Nations Security Council for its inaction.

One of the tribunal’s charges is particularly prescient: “Engaging in policies to wage permanent war on sovereign nations. Syria and Iran have already been declared as potential targets. In declaring a ‘global war on terror,’ the US government has given itself the exclusive right to use aggressive military force against any target of its choosing. Ethnic and religious hostilities are being fueled in different parts of the world.”

As the politicians and pundits scramble for cover remember the words of the tribunal. Barack Obama knows that Bush was condemned more for sending American troops to fight overseas than for the substance of what he did. Obama can’t be allowed to use ISIS and similar groups to attack Syria without also paying a price. Democrats can’t defend Obama’s destruction of Libya or carrying out “kill list” assassinations without being called out as complicit as the neocons of the Bush era. Ultimately, they are all neocons and the so-called “mistake” of the Iraq war will be revisited again unless American imperialism is called just that.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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