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What Chilcot Won't Tell Us: The Iraq War Crashed the European Project


What Chilcot Won't Tell Us: The Iraq War Crashed the European Project

Robert Dover

The Iraq War was a war of choice. Iraq posed no immediate nor distant threat to the UK or British interests.

The often aggressive and unpleasant regime of Saddam Hussein had been successfully contained by a coalition of allies during the 1990s.

And for ordinary Iraqis - not seeking to engage in politics - life was a little worse than it had been (due to sanctions) but it was stable and 'OK'.

The decision of the UK to get involved in the Iraq war was controversial at the time, and over a million marched in London against it.


I was shocked to read Mr. Dover's claim that before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, "Life was.a little worse than it had been (due to sanctions), but it was stable and 'OK'."
I understand that this war of choice, so far away, led to detachment on the part of U.S., and European publics, but expected more from an academic. Remember what the sanctions did to Iraqi children? I believe the figure was half a million children and babies died due to restrictions on imports of medicine, medical equipment, and chemicals for water purification, over the years of the sanctions, pre-invasion. Remember Madeline Albright being asked if "it was worth it"--and she replied in the affirmative?

I agree with his basic premise that the Iraq war damaged faith and trust and appetite for going along with elites in the U.S. and Britain, who desired the war; however, I think the economic inequality, with millions of Brits being left out of prosperity, or the benefits of a more interwoven culture were also main catalysts of the rancor that produced the Brexit vote. When mild mannered articles like this one make light of the disastrous killing sanctions done to Iraq's populace in the years before the U.S. invasion, they do a disservice to truth.


This is also true inside the U.S.:

"The recent Brexit vote provides the fourth lesson: the death of expertise. The Blair government's use and abuse of intelligence product has undermined the public's confidence in expert advice. No longer can the government trot out experts to validate its case."

Where else is illegitimate government operation on display?

How about:

  1. The recent election process intended to demonstrate which Democratic candidate won the greatest number of votes.

  2. The decision to bail out the banks (rather than homeowners) without doing ANYTHING to substantially tame the risk-culture that caused the financial crash of 2008.

  3. Roping in Monsanto--even though its poisonous products now abound inside most persons' cellular biology.

  4. Holding those given to police brutality to truly account.

  5. Auditing the Pentagon and its incendiary armed contingents

  6. Doing something to mitigate global warming rather than stand by passively as city after city floods, burns, experiences drought, or the dangers of another oil spill or train derailment.

EVERYTHING is now based on a betrayal of the public's interests to instead cater to "Special Interests."


Added to those sanctions and often unreported , is the fact that in Gulf War 1 the US Military bombed water treatment plants and other civilian infrastructure.


The documents released here show clearly the USA anticipated all of those children would die due to sanctions and planned for it.


The article outlines how the US Military targeted civilian infrastructure including hospitals and water treatment plants.

They are linked. The death of those 500000 children was not an unintended consequence.


We like to say that no-one could have predicted the rise of Islamic State, but this brand of extremism has its origins in the political vacuum left in Iraq and the activities of al-Zarqawi who was able to mobilise support against what he described as the occupying coalition powers.

What could not be predicted - perhaps - is the amount of traction these initially very marginal groupings would attract in terms of funding from certain Middle Eastern states, the support they would attract from western youths transiting between the Middle East and Europe who have picked up ways of thinking and military ways of operating that have made them such a threat on the European mainland.

"A Clean Break - A New Strategy For Securing The Realm" (1996) laid out the blueprint for the destabilization of Syria by the Israelis, Saudis, Turks and Americans .. in 1996.


Those were definitely not unintended consequences. The US is still miffed that the Shah of Iran was deposed and just can't let go of that. Everything that has happened since has its roots in that one upheaval- imo anyway. The US used to supply guns and ammo to Saddam Hussein merely because he was fighting Iran. But later on, the US decides to impose sanctions against Iraq- can't have too much stability in the area. So, send in guns then impose sanctions. Totally a recipe for instability. Only it wasn't unstable enough and more meddling was required hence the invasion. Had the area not been meddled with by the US and the area not had oil, it would just be another Africa!


Very interesting analysis. It doesn't really tell me anything new but its nice that someone is connecting the dots and putting it out there.


"Remember what the sanctions did to Iraqi children? I believe the figure was half a million children and babies died due to restrictions on imports of medicine, medical equipment, and chemicals for water purification, over the years of the sanctions, pre-invasion. Remember Madeline Albright being asked if "it was worth it"--and she replied in the affirmative?"

Yes -- I do indeed remember all of that, and I believe it is sinful to write of those times and not affirm it. Thank you, kathrynh1.


Man is also the only creature that has any concept of a history that isn't a personal experience. That we can remember it at all is quite a feat, that it is construed by those who would use it to suit their own ends is not all that surprizing. History is written by the winners and since today's winners are not even humans but court invented personages there can be no real winners.


Bravo, Dr. Dover, great essay. I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I have never been the same having seen the human face of that tragic and unnecessary war. And during the run-up in 2002 for the vote on GWB's Iraq War resolution, I experienced what the American baseball manager Yogi Berra called "deja vu all over again." I told hawkish civilian GWB's resolution eerily reminded me of LBJ's Gulf of Tonkin resolution and if we did invade and occupy Iraq, this war would rival the war I served in as a young and naive man. But as you pointed out so astutely in this essay, the Iraq War opened Pandora's box of sectarian violence in the Greater Middle East which now threatens in its aftermath the European Union. So in the second decade of the global war on terror, the Iraq War may go down in world history as an even greater foreign policy debacle than the Vietnam War. The blowback from the war has been profound. It still boggles the mind that my fellow citizens forgot the painful lesson of the Vietnam War. Or as you put it: "It also proves a relearning of a timeless lesson of war: that conflict is contagious and often uncontainable." As you probably well know the conflict in Vietnam spread to Cambodia in which the regime there was overthrown, gave rise to the Khmer Rouge and brought about the genocide in that country.


Minor point, but I believe Chalmers Johnson, not the CIA, coined the term "blowback."


The Brits have only engaged in imperialism since around the mid 1500s when we were trying to stop Catholicism being forced upon us by the Spanish imperialists. Britain has been on the map for much longer and indeed was invaded and oppressed extremely thoroughly between 54BC and 1066AD. Blame Julius Caesar!


"The often aggressive and unpleasant regime of Saddam Hussein had been
successfully contained by a coalition of allies during the 1990s."

The often aggressive and unpleasant regime of Saddam Hussein had been
successfully armed by assorted European countries and the USA when attacking Iran and gassing Kurds in the 1980s.

And Dr Dover, torture and kidnapping is just not "immoral and unethical", it is also ILLEGAL under international law according to conventions signed by the UK and the USA.


Don't ever foget that the whole shitty mess began when Carter and Brezinski armed the lunatic jihadists in Afghanistan to overthrow the then secular USSR-friendly government in that country. 6 months later the Russkies invaded Afghanistan to assist their mates in government and from then on the USA had a great excuse to develop armed jihadism inAfghanistan. THAT is where Bin Laden and his self-detonating friends began their careers.

The invasion of Iraq had results that were totally predictable at the time; a three-cornered civil war that would be uncontrollable.


As I keep reminding SR, behind every Emperor Augustus there is an Empress Livia not only making absolutely sure that only her progeny survive, but also that her husband supports her in every way.


George, I agree with your reply. The mess had its genesis there.


IIRC, the no-fly zones were established because the US public and the MSM objected to Saddam Hussein's genocidal reprisals against Kurds and Shi'ites. ...
... In the new cynical age we are more inclined to close our eyes to similar genocides in Syria and other places. So they flee there and come to us. Some say, those proverbial 'chickens coming home to roost...', but we are also confronted between the principles from WWII of 'never again', and actual practice.


History? Referring to the person you George_III were replying to, Donald Chump, Great Britain the United Kingdom simply didn't exist before c.1600. England and Scotland were separate countries. They would sort-of continue as separate countries, with the same king, until 1707.

As for invasion, the Romans invaded conquered and ruled Celtic Britons in what we now call 'England' between 54BC and c.400AD. After Rome withdrew in its collapsing, the Britons tried to pick up the pieces, but then suffered waves of invasion from Angles, Saxons (Plattdeutsch, from north Netherlands and northwest Germany. The closest language to modern English is Frisian, of northern Netherlands), Jutes (Danes) and Norwegians, until William the Norman Conqueror did the last one in 1066.


It seems that not everything makes it into the history book. It is only in the past year, probably from you, that I've heard claims that the USA under Carter was assisting Afghan rebels before New Years Day 1980.

Skipping over that the Afghan king was overthrown by his cousin Daoud, and that Daoud was overthrown by communist Taraki,... The simpler explanation seems to be that opposition to Taraki was funded by the wealthy Arab oil states, with much less, perhaps no, funding from the USA. Because Taraki wasn't able to squelch the rebellion against him, he was overthrown by another communist named Hafizullah. Hafizullah was also ineffective against the rebels, and didn't get on well with the Soviet leaders. So the USSR did a false flag, invented a provocation, invaded, overthrew and killed Hafizullah, installed Babrak Karmal, and then claimed that Karmal and his government had invited the invasion. The sort of thing that would cause the world and progressives to denounce the USA if the USA had done it. (See, George_III is trying to do it anyway.) -- unknown how much aid Carter gave to the Afghan rebels before or after New Years Day 1980; we tend to remember Reagan's assistance more.


I must agree that Mr Dover's description of pre-invasion Iraq is rather rosy. Even with Saddam (supported by the West for decades) the people had a high standard of living, education and health systems including for women, harmony and intermarriage between Sunni and Shia (even Christians eg Tariq Aziz) before the 1990s decade of sanctions and vicious refusals of normal needed goods.
The West wants to decide which dictators it will support; what right do we give the population?