We [the United States] spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. . . . Obviously, it was a mistake . . . George W. Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East . . .
They [President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney] lied . . . They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.—Donald Trump (1946- ), during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.
[George W. Bush] wants to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
But the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.—Richard Dearlove (1945- ) Head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), (in ‘Downing Street memo,’ July 23, 2002).
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.—Dick Cheney (1941- ), comment made at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention, Aug. 26, 2002
Spinning the possible possession of WMDs as a threat to the United States in the way they did is, in my opinion, tantamount to intentionally deceiving the American people.—Gen. Hugh Shelton (1942- ), former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, (in his memoirs ‘Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior,’ 2010)
We [the USA] went to war [in Iraq] not just against the Iraqi forces and insurgent groups but also against a large part of the Arab world, scores and scores of millions . . . It is a strategic error of monumental proportions to view the war as confined to Iraq . . . [The Iraq war] is turning out to be the greatest strategic disaster in our history.—Gen. William E. Odom (1932–2008), in a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, January 18, 2007
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has rendered a great service to the truth and to historians in stating publicly, on Saturday, February 13, 2016, what most people by now know, i.e., that the US-led war of aggression against Iraq, in March 2003, was not only illegal under international law, it was also an exercise in pure deceptive propaganda, and it was promoted thanks to well-documented lies, fabrications and forgeries.
I personally published a book in early 2003 detailing how the Bush-Cheney administration, with the help of pro-Israel neocons in the higher echelons of the U.S. government, built a case for war under false pretenses.
The publishing house, ‘Les Intouchables,’ in Montreal, initially published the book in Canada, in French, under the title of ‘Pourquoi Bush veut la guerre.’ It was then published in the U.S., by Infinity Publishing, in English, under the title ‘The New American Empire.’ The book was also published in Europe by l’Harmattan in Paris under the title ‘Le Nouvel Empire Américain,’ and later on translated into Turkish by Nova Publishing in Ankara, under the title ‘Yeni Amerikan Imparatorlu›u.’
The machinations and deceptions behind the disastrous war against Iraq, which have resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of deaths and created millions of refugees, and which has completely destabilized the entire Middle East, constitute, therefore, a topic that I have been studying for many years.
It is no surprise that I was pleased to hear Mr. Trump forcefully conveying the truth to the American people, even though those who have engaged in war crimes under the Nuremberg Charter and the United Nations Charter have never been indicted for gross negligence and duplicity—if not outright treason—let alone prosecuted. Worse still, there has never been a serious public inquiry into this sordid episode at the beginning of the 21st Century and how the Bush-Cheney administration planned a premeditated military attack against Iraq in order to bring about a political “regime change” in that country.
Let us summarize the sad series of events that have led to what American General William Odom has dubbed “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.” We may add that this has also led to a great disaster for the Middle East populations, and it could also prove to have been a disaster for Europe and the world as a whole, if the current mess in that part of the world were to lead to World War III.
1- DECEPTION: When George W. Bush took power in January 2001, his Treasury Secretary, Paul H. O’Neill (1935- ), the former CEO of Alcoa, recalls that the goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was raised by Bush during the very first cabinet meeting of the new administration. In O’Neill’s biography written by journalist Ron Suskind and titled The Price of Loyalty, it is stated that George W. Bush fully intended to invade Iraq and was desperate to find an excuse for preemptive war against Saddam Hussein. As Mr. Suskind writes it, there was even a Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001, and entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts,” which included a map of potential areas in Iraq for oil exploration. Such a detailed plan for a U.S.-led military take-over of Iraq had never been mentioned during the 2000 U.S. presidential election, let alone debated.
However, a pro-Israel neoconservative think-tank, The Project for the New American Century, had drafted a blueprint for regime change in Iraq as early as September 2000. The fundamental goal was to secure access to Iraq’s oil reserves and remove a potential enemy to the state of Israel. This think-tank, founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, was mainly run by vice-president Dick Cheney; by defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld; by Paul Wolfowitz, (Rumsfeld’s deputy at the Defense Department); by George W. Bush’s younger brother Jeb Bush, then governor of Florida; and by Lewis Libby, Cheney’s deputy.
Their document about Iraq was entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century.” It stated clearly that: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” It was this plan that the newly elected Bush-Cheney administration obviously intended to implement in secret, eight months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
It is also most relevant to mention that the document on Iraq mentioned above was mimicking a previous report written in 1996 for the Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli government and titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The latter outlined a strategy for the state of Israel in the Middle East in these terms: “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq–an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right–as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”
In 2001, the Bush-Cheney administration seemed to have made its own the proposed strategy.
2- POSSIBLE NEGLIGENCE: To what extent was the Bush-Cheney administration negligent in not preventing the 9/11 terrorist attacks? This is a legitimate question, considering that the George W. Bush White House received, on Monday August 6, 2001, 36 days before the terrorist attacks, a confidential report by the CIA entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” Mr. Bush was then on a month-long vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and no special security steps seem to have been taken to alert various authorities of the threat.
3- A PARALLEL GOVERNMENT: Early on, the new Bush-Cheney administration established a special bureaucratic agency for intelligence gathering, propaganda and war preparations. This was the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plan (OSP) placed under the supervision of Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense. It was designed, as reported by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh, to circumvent the CIA and the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA, and to serve as President Bush’s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and its possible connection with al-Qaeda. That is also where various fake arguments were invented to steer the United States into a war against Iraq. Douglas Feith, a defense undersecretary, ran the shadow agency with the assistance of William Luti, a former navy officer and an ex-aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Something that should have been investigated, but has not been, is how some Israeli generals had free access to the OSP, as reported by Karen Kwiatkowski who worked in that agency.
4- WAR PROPAGANDA: After 9/11, few Americans were blaming Iraq for the terrorist attacks, since none of the 19 terrorists involved had any connection with Iraq. In fact, the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks of 2001 were affiliated with the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda. Fifteen out of 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, and the other two came from Egypt and Lebanon. None were from Iraq. And their training camps had been in Afghanistan.
That is why in polls taken soon after Sept. 11, 2001, only 3 percent of Americans mentioned Iraq or Saddam Hussein as the dark forces behind the attacks. Obviously, such a perception had to be changed if the Bush-Cheney administration were to start a war with Iraq. That is when the fear of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the possible links of Saddam Hussein with al-Qaeda were invented, with the active assistance of neocon media. By September 2003, the propaganda had worked so well that, according to a Washington Post poll, 69 percent of Americans had come to believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda, even though there had been no proof of such a link between the two. Such is the force of government propaganda when the mass media collaborate in the exercise.
This propaganda was instrumental in building a case for a war with Iraq, without regard to factual evidence. History will reckon that the United States did not retaliate against Saudi Arabia, a country that had a lot to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but it did react viciously against Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the attacks.
All these facts are well documented and corroborated. Future historians will have numerous sources to establish the historical truth.
The fact that presidential candidate Donald Trump has alerted the American people to the treachery used by the Bush-Cheney administration to go to war against Iraq is a welcome development. Undoubtedly, the Iraq War has unleashed untold destruction and misery in Iraq and in the entire Middle East. And the sequels to the initial disaster continue today, thirteen years after the 2003 U.S.-led military invasion of Iraq.
The only recent comparable historical event, when a powerful country invaded militarily another weaker country, was the decision by the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler to invade Poland on September 1, 1939, thus plunging Europe into chaos for many years. Let us hope that the current turmoil in the Middle East, with so many countries conducting military operations in the devastated countries of Iraq and Syria, will not lead to even greater catastrophes.
Economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles.”