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Death, Misery and Debt: Iraq's Unintended Conquest of America

March 25, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Baghdad to ask the Iraqi government to stop helping Iran support Syria’s Bashar Assad. Kerry received an embarrassing rebuff—so much for the Bush administration’s celebrated victory over Saddam Hussein.

This time ten years ago the grand Iraqi cakewalk had begun. American military forces were racing toward victory. The world was going to be transformed.

But not in the way President George W. Bush and his top officials imagined. Invading Iraq turned out to be one of Washington’s greatest strategic mistakes.

U.S. policy in the Middle East long has been marked by myopic, counter-productive meddling. Six decades ago the U.S. and British governments organized a coup ousting Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Left in charge was Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.

The Shah was a corrupt dictator who for 26 years suppressed the democratic opposition and brutalized political opponents. Washington was happy, but the Iranian people felt otherwise, forcing him to flee in 1979.

America will pay for its Iraq mistake for years, perhaps decades, to come.”

Islamic fundamentalists led by the Ayatollah Khomeini won control in Tehran.  In response, Washington backed Iraq’s Hussein in his subsequent aggression against Iran. That experience helped convince him that the U.S. would not block his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

But the U.S. then attacked Iraq to liberate Kuwait. Washington left American troops in Saudi Arabia, antagonizing the likes of Osama bin Laden, who viewed Washington’s presence as desecrating sacred lands.

Although the September 11 atrocities were orchestrated by Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda, neoconservatives and uber-hawks around President George W. Bush used the outrage to advance their objective of removing Hussein. Invading Iraq was presented as a panacea for almost every international ill: terrorism, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Persian Gulf instability, dictatorship, proliferation, high oil prices. The war would be a cakewalk, the peace a veritable feast.

Administration officials warned of mushroom clouds and suggested Baghdad’s complicity with 9/11 while systematically pressuring intelligence officers, distorting information, and hiding evidence which contradicted their lurid claims. Britain’s famed “Downing Street Memo” explained that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” decision to attack Iraq.

The war became a weapon in the increasingly partisan red team-blue team political struggle at home. Backing the administration’s war was a patriotic test: critics were smeared as traitors and friends of Saddam. David Frum, later purged by the Right for his own ideological heresies, …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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