(1) Iraq was a “grave and gathering threat”
After years of pre-invasion propaganda about the threat from Iraq as “imminent,” “immediate,” “urgent,” “serious,” “real,” and “dangerous,” the Administration fell into line with the studied message of “grave and gathering.” It was not. Crippled by 10 years of sanctions, Iraq had one of the weakest militaries and economies in the region when the U.S. attacked them. Iraq had not planned, threatened, or even been capable of any serious attack on the United States or its allies outside of its own borders. Confirmed post-invasion, this view was also supported by numerous pre-war reports by our government, our allies, and private think tanks, all ignored or down-played by the Administration and its friends in corporate media. Bush created a special propaganda team to invent justifications for invading Iraq (Office of Special Plans), but “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of invading Iraq no matter what, according to official documents of our closest ally, the British.
(2) Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” programs after the early 1990s
This lie still has legs in Fox News-land, but has suffered a serious blow with the publication of the government’s official post-invasion investigation (Kay/Duelfer report). It was also asserted to be false or highly unlikely pre-invasion by a high ranking Iraqi defector, official weapons inspectors, and (again) numerous pre-war investigations from diverse knowledgeable sources, even from the CIA. Bush continued this lie for a while after the invasion nevertheless, falsely asserting on May 29, 2003 that we had “found the weapons of mass destruction.” “Niger uranium,” “enrichment tubes,” “mobile weapons labs,” leading to “mushroom clouds over American cities” — years of lies have now been completely discredited.
Related to this, “Saddam threw out the weapons inspectors” is still bandied about despite the fact that we “withdrew” inspectors (twice) so we could bomb Iraq, even after inspectors reported that Iraq was “fundamentally disarmed.” No evidence was ever found of a continuation of the WMD programs (that we had helped Iraq build up in the 1980s) after the 1991 Gulf War and the UN-mandated disarmament program. Nevertheless, some of the weapons that had been secured by inspectors in the early 1990s, and untouched by the Iraqi government since, were left unguarded by “coalition troops” after the invasion and were then stolen by parties unknown — showing our real concern over this false pretense.
(3) Iraq had “ties to Al Qaeda” and 9/11
Once believed by a majority of Americans — due to years propaganda, general ignorance, and nationalist war hysteria — this absurdity ignored Bin Laden’s stated disdain (“apostate,” “infidel”) for Saddam Hussein and the secular Iraqi government and the complete lack of verifiable evidence for any connection. Most associated with Cheney (“over-whelming evidence there was a connection”), this lie was also put in play by Bush, Powell, and others, usually by strong but non-definitive terms for the “sinister nexus,” like “harboring,” “dealing with,” and “aids and protects.” In fact, the “terrorist training camps” referred to pre-invasion by Bush and Powell were in U.S.-protected Kurdish areas of northern Iraq where “Saddam” was forbidden to intervene, were led by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi who had fought on the U.S. side in the 1980s against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and were allowed to operate without U.S. harassment for years (the Bush White House even vetoing three different Pentagon plans to take them out) until well past the initial stage of the 2003 U.S. invasion.
(4) Our invasion of Iraq was to support “Security Council resolutions”
Bush claimed that he was invading Iraq to enforce UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and that the UN’s reluctance to endorse his invasion risked making the institution “irrelevant.” Besides the contrary logic of “do what we want or you’re irrelevant,” the charge that Iraq was then violating resolutions on WMD was dubious, if not completely false. Likewise, the charge that resolutions were violated by Iraq’s firing on U.S.-British planes over the “no-fly zones” (aircraft that regularly killed civilians throughout the previous decade) was also false and was rebuffed by the UN’s secretary-general and members of the Security Council.
Powell’s and Bush’s presentations of detailed lies to the UN failed to convince the UNSC that invading Iraq was justified (despite U.S. bribes, arm twisting, and spying on delegations to the UNSC), a lack of approval which made our subsequent invasion explicitly illegal under the UN Charter, under international law as agreed to by the U.S. through treaty (and hence also illegal under U.S. law), and under war crimes conventions that describe such aggressive war as the “supreme crime.” Finally, dozens of UNSC resolutions have been and continue to be violated, many by U.S. allies such as Israel and Turkey, but the lawful decision of enforcing them with military attack is not left to individual states, but the UNSC.
(5) Our invasion of Iraq was to “promote democracy”
The “supporting democracy” argument achieved primacy after the WMD and Al Qaeda-link lies were exposed, but are belied by post-invasion history. It took blackmail to force us into even planning elections in a somewhat timely manner. Occupation “administrator” Bremer had initially promised only U.S.-appointed councils, and then elections in some indefinite form two-to-five years or so down the road. However, during massive Shiite uprisings and pro-democracy demonstrations in late 2003 and early 2004, Iraq’s Ayatollah Ali Sistani insisted on holding elections sooner. Facing full-scale rebellion, Bremer reluctantly agreed. Nevertheless, the U.S. “authority” imposed long-reaching undemocratic edicts allowing foreign ownership over Iraq’s assets.
Also ignored, elections held after an illegal invasion under occupation by a hostile foreign military are generally not considered legitimate under international law and convention, and were of questionable value in Iraq due to violence, intimidation, and unrepresented groups of voters in several provinces. Finally, though most Iraqis — even the newly elected Green Zone government — and a majority of Americans want the U.S. to leave, the Administration has so far refused.
(6) It is better to “fight them there” than on our streets
This is perhaps the most common lie today — that somehow the Iraq invasion and occupation (even if illegal and based on lies) is making the U.S. population at home “safer.” Bush and friends have repeatedly made this claim, even asking the enemy to “bring it on” over there.
First, there are the assumptions “them” and “there.” The 9/11-perpetrating Al Qaeda organization (“them”) was not in Iraq when the U.S. invaded (except in small numbers at the aforementioned Bush-protected camps). The few thousand or so Al Qaeda trained operatives who were thought to have remained active members were scattered around the world, but were based in Afghanistan. The U.S.’s response “there” deployed limited numbers of troops in favor of a massive and “long planned” (O’Neill, Clarke, Woodward, etc.) invasion of Iraq, which has now become the new “there.”
Second, how well are we now fighting “them” in this new “there?” According to such terrorist sympathizers as the U.S. Army War College, the Iraq invasion was an “unnecessary” “distraction” from the “war on terror.” It is worse than that, however. Our internationally condemned Iraq invasion has increased the number of independent groups emulating Al Qaeda and even taking their name, such as Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has gained skills and become ideologically wedded to the idea of fighting the United States in a war without borders or rules. Some of “them” are now no longer even “there.” According to a UN report in March “senior fighters have left Iraq to gather existing supporters and these fresh recruits into new cells” around the world.
Third, is fighting “them there” really making the U.S. safer at home? Terrorist attacks against Western targets have risen dramatically every year since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Attacks specifically linked to the invasion are also occurring with greater frequency outside of Iraq, as seen in major attacks in Jordan, Spain, and Great Britain, among other countries. Though the U.S. has yet to suffer another 9/11-type event, one would have to be willfully blind not to see the confluence of troubles described above — coupled with continued incompetence, corruption, and overreaching against domestic “peace activists” at home by “Homeland Security” amid rising budgetary deficits — as making us “safer” in the long term. Taking a discretionary fight to their streets, without “just cause,” is an obvious prelude to at least some of them bringing it back to ours.
(7) If the lies were true, then we would have been justified in invading Iraq
This is the premise underlying all discussions in the U.S. about Iraq. However, the only “legal war” between nation-states is one of self-defense against an actual invasion or attack (or, in some cases, a narrowly defined “imminent” attack). The use of ongoing military force (beyond immediate defensive purposes) in order to be lawful needs to be approved by the United Nations Security Council. This system is not arbitrary or whimsical. It is based on the unprecedented horrors of all-out warfare in the 20th century, and was devised as the best possible plan to try to prevent large scale wars from breaking out in the future. It was promoted by the U.S. government and incorporated into U.S. law through treaty after WWII.
WMD, a “gathering” threat, dictatorship — none of this would make an attack by one country on another legal or moral (see also “just war” theory), and such precepts if universally adopted would result in world conflagration. Even if Iraq had ties to the 9/11 attacks (which they did not), the only lawful use of force by the U.S. in response would have been defensive, to prevent another imminent attack. The legal recourse for the previous attack would have been through the World Court, which could have referred the matter to the UN Security Council for lawful military action. Without such a system, for example, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, and scores of other countries could be justified in attacking the U.S. in the future in retribution for U.S. attacks on them in the past.
That such an institution of legal structures designed to prevent world war (even though biased towards dominant powers like the U.S.) is the source of widespread scorn in the U..S, especially among its elite opinion-makers and power-holders, is an astounding admission and frightening to the rest of the world, where opinion polls now show the U.S. (with “pre-emptive war” as official policy) is viewed as the greatest threat to peace on the planet.
List by Andy Dunn, compiled from sources at www.bushlies.net, www.whodies.com, and www.tvnewslies.org.
Reprinted from Zmagazine July 2006-under Fair Use guidelines