- Feb 27, 2010
16 years since the "Shock and Awe" of the US and Allied attack on Iraq that ended the regime of Saddam Hussein, and led to a prolonged destabilisation of the region.
The last 16 years are impossible to understand with reference to the Iraq invasion. Probably its most malignant outcome was an explosion of Islamic Fundamentalism leading to the formation of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and then to ISIS. On top of that, civil war between Sunni and Shia, up to 3000 American dead, and the ISIS caliphate committing genocide against the Yazidis of Northern Iraq ...
The Syrian civil war did not start as a result of Iraq, but it was made much more savage by the injection of the Islamic terror that had been unleashed in Iraq. The power vacuum in Iraq was filled by malign forces like ISIS, and possibly Iran has been the major beneficiary.
Yet, as Chris Hayes points out, who has paid a price, besides the unfortunates of Iraq and Syria ?.... Actually, very few, in American politics and news media at least.
You could list the men or organisations that have escaped scot-free from responsibility ...
1 .George W Bush has paid a reputational price, but retired peacefully to his Texas ranch with all the honours due to a President. But his Vice-President, Dick Cheney is still an honoured member of the elite in the Republican Party, despite the fact that many think he was the evil genius behind the whole operation.
2. Benjamin Neyanyahu was a prime mover and instigator of the war, as an ally of the US. Again, he suffered no damage to his reputation and is an honoured foreign dignitary (unlike Tony Blair). And his every wish seems to be a command to the US President and his party.
3. John Bolton, a prime instigator and liar as the US envoy to the United Nations, so extreme in fact that Bush made him a recess appointment because even a Republican Senate would not confirm him. Bolton is still a key leader of US foreign policy, and advocate for regime change (including by US invasion) in Iran and Venezuela.
4. American media, including Fox News. The media (with come honourable exceptions) joined in the drumbeat for war unquestioning and uncritically. Tony Blair spoke to Rupert Murdoch every day in the lead-up to war, ensuring his media empire was "on message". Yet Murdoch and his Empire are still accepted by millions in the US and UK as opinion formers and truth purveyors.
5. The US Republican Party. The GOP lost the Presidency in 2008 and again in 2012. But (helped by a Great Recession it did much to cause) it re-invented itself as a pro-austerity anti-deficit party to win Congress again in 2010. Then it re-invented itself again as a populist, anti-free-trade party in 2016, led by a unashamedly racist TV Star and billionaire hotelier & real estate magnate. But the one constant between the Bush and Trump eras have been tax cuts for the wealthy, neo-conservatives in high office, a slavish pursuit of Israeli interests (mixed to an extent with Saudi interests) and an aggressive posture towards Iran.
The scary thing about the Iraq War, like the Great Recession, is that it could so easily happen again, this time in Iran, or in Venezuela .... any protection that might have been put in place have been eroded or forgotten. And the conjunction of forces in power in Washington are much the same as they were in 2003 ...