Prelude to the Iraq War / WMD scandal
The 2003 Invasion of Iraq lasted from March to May 2003. Forces from the UK, Poland, the U.S and Australia invaded Iraq to dispose Saddam Hussein. 160,000 troops were sent in total from the coalition, with the majority being from the U.S with supplementary forces from the other countries. The principle reason given for the invasion of Iraq was that it had in it’s possession Weapons of Mass Destruction (“WMD’s”). UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S.A. President George W Bush both endorsed the war due to the perceived threat of the WMDs. Upon the election of George W Bush in 2000 foreign policy towards Iraq became more aggressive. The aggression only heightened after the 9/11 attacks, however the rationale to invade Iraq as a response to the September 11 attacks has been widely criticized. There has been no evidence of collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda. Shortly after Sept 11 Bush announced his “War on Terror” regime which consisted of a hostile foreign policy and increased powers of police and the military, increased checks in airports and more government power to investigate private data if the citizen fell under the definition of terrorist.
A Memo written by Donald Rumsfield in 2001 contemplates an Iraq war. The Bush administration waited until Septemeber 2002 to announce action against Iraq would take place, with White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card saying,
“From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
Another reason given for the invasion was to free the Iraqi people from the terrorism of Saddam Hussein, however this would not have been enough to secure the support of the public with regard to an invasion. According to U.S polls over 60% of the public were against the war. France, Germany and New Zealand were strongly against the invasion as they argued there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction from their intelligence sources. There was also a rally of Three Million people in Rome against the war, the biggest rally ever recorded. The invasion started with an airstrike in Baghdad on the 20th March 2003 and ended on 1st May, where the military occupation period began.
Saddam Hussein – Iraq war / WMD justified from Britain
Weapons of Mass Destruction aside, it could be argued that the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein was enough to justify an Iraq invasion. A document drafted by the British Government with a foreword from Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined aspects of the Regime as well as the evidence behind WMD’s in Iraq. The report makes for chilling reading:
“Saddam’s son Udayy maintained a private torture chamber known as the Red Room in a building on the banks of the Tigris disguised as an electricity installation. He created a militia in 1994 which has used swords to execute victims outside their own homes. He has personally executed dissidents, for instance in the Shia uprising at Basra which followed the Gulf War.”
“Members of Saddam’s family are also subject to persecution. A cousin of Saddam, Ala Abd al-Qadir al-Majid, fled to Jordan from Iraq citing disagreements with the regime over business matters. He returned to Iraq after the Iraqi Ambassador in Jordan declared publicly that his life was not in danger. He was met at the border by Tahir Habbush, Head of the Directorate of General Intelligence (the Mukhabarat), and taken to a farm owned by Ali Hasan al-Majid.At the farm Ala was tied to a tree and executed by members of his immediate family who, following orders from Saddam, took it in turns to shoot him”
“Some 40 of Saddam’s relatives, including women and children, have been killed. His sons-in-law Hussein and Saddam Kamil had defected in 1995 and returned to Iraq from Jordan after the Iraqi government had announced amnesties for them. They were executed in February 1996”
The document also explains how difficult it was to get information in Iraq at the time, how Saddam’s regime is one of the most secretive and tightly kept in the world and how it would be impossible for the intelligence agencies to publish their sources. Blair praised the intelligence agencies and said he was satisfied that what they had given him was enough for the purposes of an invasion. Despite sanctions he says that Saddam had no intention of stopping the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. He outlines that Saddam had been using chemical weapons not only against foreign countries but upon his own people. And on the data of his intelligence agencies these weapons were ready for mobilization within 45 minutes notice. And he finishes that with the information in front of him the UK government is correct to take action to ensure that Saddam Hussein does not use the weapons he has or obtain the devices he desires. The document then outlines intelligence from a variety of sources, including an independent review from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) who noted that Iraq could construct nuclear devices within months of obtaining fission material as well as information already in the public domain from UN reports and Iraqi defectors. The primary British Intelligence agencies are the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service, and the Defense Intelligence Staff (DIS). The Joint Intelligence Committee reviews all intelligence and presents reports to parliament and government along with recommendations. This official document would seem to indicate that there was significant evidence of weapons of mass destruction as well as a brutal regime in place by dictator Saddam Hussein which more than justified an invasion from a British point of view. However there was no concrete, substantial, tangible evidence of WMD, just likelihoods and probabilities.
Tony Blair has since been criticized by UN weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix for misrepresenting intelligence on WMD as a a justification for the Iraqi war. Claims about Iraqi WMD’s were allegedly not an accurate representation at the time. The information supplied by the intelligence agencies was described as sporadic and patchy at best, however it was sold to the public that Iraq almost definitely had WMD’s at its disposal with more being actively developed under Saddam. The inspector criticized Blair that just because weapons were unaccounted for does not mean that they exist, and said that Blair jumped to conclusions.
It is arguable that Blair did exaggerate the chances of WMD being held by Saddam, but that it was still the right decision. Saddam had a brutal regime and used chemical warfare on his own citizens. It was better to assume the worst, invade and see for certain than assume that he did not. And if the decision was made to go in and ensure there were no WMD then it is obviously better to sell the war as much as possible. A war cannot be entered on the premise that Iraq possibly has WMD but has to be entered strongly on the idea that Iraq most definitely has WMD.
Iraqi War / WMD – Betrayal by the Intelligence Agencies
Some contend that it was the Intelligence agencies themselves who sold out the politicians, George Bush and Tony Blair. This would represent the Intelligence agencies themselves as stronger players in international politics than previously imagined or even historically seen. Theorists contend that the intelligence given to the politicians inaccurately described the probability of WMD’s being held by Saddam. It is contended that most Intelligence agencies, such as those in Russia, Germany and France, were aware that there was no evidence of WMD’s in Iraq. But the Intelligence agencies in the US and the UK lied about the chances of WMD’s in the hands of Saddam Hussein. More likely than this is that the politicians and the Intelligence Agencies collaborated to a degree so that all evidence that was relied on in the reports would justify an invasion by focusing on unreliable sources that backed up theories of WMD’s in Iraq. The politicians could say they were relying on official intelligence, which they were. The agencies could say they were merely relying on their sources, which could obviously not be disclosed as mentioned in the previous document with Tony Blair.
It is also alleged that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the US concluded that the idea that Saddam possessed WMDs was built on air. There was no evidence any Iraqi facilities produced, tested or stored biological weapons. No mobile production plants could be found. They found nothing showing Iraq had the processes to produce chemical devices. The analysts even doubted Saddam had long-range missiles. However the report produced by the DIA was never shown to President Bush, but was instead shown a much weaker National Intelligence Estimate from the CIA. Bush and Rice were not fully informed, with Cheney and Rumsfield collaborating with the Intelligence agencies and spewing Iraqi propaganda. In 2002 Saddam allowed US weapons inspectors to return to look at WMD’s that did not exist, and were told by Cheney that if they failed to find them, the inspectors would be discredited. When none of the sites identified by the CIA contained any WMD’s the team was told to find them where they could, not question intelligence agencies. Members of the Bush administration wanted to push and Iraq war and got what they wanted.
Iraq War / WMD Changing Narrative – WMD found?
There can be no question that the phrasing used to justify a war in Iraq can amount to no more than a lie on part of the establishment. Vice President Dick Cheney:
“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.”
Such statements amount to no more than mere propaganda, as there was no concrete evidence at the time, just conjecture from the intelligence agencies. And it was shown as such when no weapons were actually found. That said it has been recently contended that WMD’s have in fact been found. The New York Times published many articles about how the chemical munitions found by the U.S amount to a violation of U.N protocols and can be said to constitute weapons of mass destruction. Between 2004 and 2011 U.S troops found more than 5000 Iraqi chemical munitions. Rush Limbaugh has stated that this is irrevocable proof that the war on Iraq was justified. However this claim is false. These munitions were never concealed by Saddam, and amount to leftovers from it’s war with Iran. Most of the chemical munitions were destroyed when inspectors from the U.S came in from 1992-1994. And the rest could not be accounted for, bearing in mind the Iraqi’s had a total of 101,000 chemical munitions accounted for in the war with Iran. And to put it in perspective the U.S military itself lost $1.2 billion worth of equipment in it’s first year of the Iraqi war and maintenance, as per the Federal Government’s General Accounting Office. However most respected and mainstream outfits do recognize that the finding of these chemical munitions do no justify the Iraqi war. Also, Bush accused Iraq of concealing “30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents” from before the Gulf War. Colin Powell spoke of those munitions in his U.N. address, as well as “550 artillery shells with mustard” and “enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as 500 tons of chemical agents”. These are accusations of with regard to munitions pre 1991, and both claims have turned out to be false.
Conclusion to Iraq war / WMD – Was there WMD’s found in Iraq?
Some WMD’s were found but they were not hidden, and they were all from the war from Iran. No facilities or weapons of mass destruction have been found which indicate that Saddam was actively producing them. In other words the rationale for the invasion of Iraq was complete unjustified on the grounds of WMD’s and the idea that Bin Laden/Al-Qaeda was collaborating with Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden having actively rebelled against Hussein. The invasion may have been justified on the grounds of humanitarian policy, as Hussein was a brutal dictator who needed to be removed.
The politicians most definitely exaggerated their claims in order to garnish support for the war. They could not justify an invasion on weak evidence of possible WMD’s in Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was by and large unjustified as no WMD’s were found of the type that would justify the invasion. Whether or not it was a failure of the intelligence agencies, or an orchestrated invasion on behalf of corruption politicians and the oil industry we will never know for sure.