by Jacob G. Hornberger
President Obama’s announcement that all combat troops have exited Iraq, while 50,000 combat troops remain in Iraq, is fitting. Since the war began with a lie, the “end” of the war might as well be based on a lie as well.
Interventionists continue to maintain the sweet delusion that Iraq is better off as a result of the U.S. invasion. However, when they make that claim, they’re always referring to the Iraqis who are alive. They never refer to the Iraqis who are dead as a result of the invasion.
Are dead Iraqis better off because of the invasion? Unfortunately, we can’t ask them because they are dead. I’ll bet that if they could answer, many, if not all, of them would say, “We would have preferred living under a totalitarian dictator than having our lives snuffed out prematurely by a violent U.S. military invasion.”
Nonetheless, U.S. interventionists steadfastly maintain that the loss of Iraqi life has been worth it.
How cavalier! How noble! Sure, it’s true that some Iraqis have been sacrificed, but they haven’t died in vain because Iraq is now a better place than it was under Saddam Hussein. The U.S. government did it for the Iraqi people, and at great cost too. More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died. The U.S. national debt has skyrocketed.
But it all shows how good “we” are. “We” are willing to make such great sacrifices for others. And “we” are willing to sacrifice others for the greater good of their nation. How caring “we” are. How compassionate.
A fascinating aspect of this welfare-warfare mindset is that there has never been an upward limit on the number of Iraqis who could be killed to achieve a successful operation. Any number of Iraqi dead, no matter how high, is considered worth it.
In fact, no one really knows how many Iraqis have been killed in the invasion and subsequent occupation because early on, the invaders made a conscious decision to not keep track of how many Iraqis were being killed.
The number of Iraqi dead didn’t really matter. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions. Who cares? All that mattered was that the survivors, whatever number they happened to be, would be better off without Saddam Hussein in power. The sacrifice that the Iraqi dead would have made, no matter how many that would be, would be considered worth it.
Never mind that the Iraqi people, including the dead, were never consulted about the invasion. Never mind that many of them would have preferred to live under Saddam Hussein than die in a U.S. invasion of their country. Never mind that many of them never wanted the U.S. government to invade their country. All that is irrelevant. “We” know what is best for them, even if they don’t. Sometimes people have to make sacrifices for “freedom,” even when the sacrifice is involuntary.
Interventionists say that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, one that used weapons of mass destruction against Iranians and Iraqis.
Fair enough, but isn’t the world filled with brutal dictators, many of whom are supported by the U.S. government?
Need some examples?
Well, Saddam Hussein himself comes to mind. Who do you think gave him those WMDs that he used against Iranians and Iraqis? You guessed it — the United States and other Western powers. (See here.)
Why did they give him those WMDs? Because U.S. officials wanted him to use them to kill Iranians.
And why did they want to do that? Because U.S. officials were angry at the Iranian people for having had the audacity to oust the CIA-installed, unelected, anti-democratic dictator known as the Shah of Iran from power and replace him with an anti-U.S. regime, one who, unlike the Shah, refused to do the bidding of the U.S. Empire. In the interventionist mind, the Iranian people should have continued to permit their U.S.-installed dictator to torture and oppress them with his CIA-trained domestic intelligence force.
(For the full story of how the U.S. government damaged what had been a growing democratic tradition in Iraq, read Stephen Kinzer’s books All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror and Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future.)
That brings us back to Saddam’s infamous WMDs, the excuse that interventionists initially emphasized to scare Americans into supporting the U.S. war of aggression against Iraq, one that lacked the constitutionally required declaration of war from Congress, making the war illegal under our form of government.
George W. Bush’s lie wasn’t in falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. He “knew” that Saddam Hussein had WMDs because he still had the receipts from when the United States delivered them to him during the 1980s. Bush just never figured that Saddam would really have destroyed them. Bush figured that he’d invade, find some left-over WMDs, claim to have saved the world, and install another U.S. puppet, like the CIA did with the Shah of Iran.
Thus, Bush’s lie wasn’t in falsely claiming that Iraq had WMDs, it was in using what he knew to be an exaggerated WMD threat to disguise the real reason for the invasion — regime change, one intended to replace Saddam Hussein with a U.S.-Empire-approved ruler.
That’s what U.S. foreign policy is all about. That’s what the U.S. Empire is all about. That’s what the lies are all about: regime change, pure and simple, designed to oust independent dictators from power and replace them with pro-U.S. Empire regimes. And no amount of death and destruction is ever considered too high to achieve it.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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