Ten years have passed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Many in the U.S. today consider it a mistake that cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, of which billions were thrown straight out the window. Calculating the devastation the invasion caused Iraqis is impossible. As these lines are being written, the estimate of the organization Just Foreign Policy claims that 1,455,590 Iraqis died as a result of the invasion.
The Bush administration justified the invasion as an effort to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which, of course, did not exist. Neoconservatives close to George Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, nevertheless tirelessly presented dubious evidence of their claims and manipulated intelligence reports to defend the aggression. U.N. inspectors who claimed Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were ignored; instead, false reports of uranium from Africa made their way into the media and exiled Iraqis were used as reliable sources of “guaranteed” information on the development of Iraqi weapons. In 2004 a House investigative committee identified “237 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq that were made by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell and National Security Advisor Rice.” And as the news agency McClatchy’s stated, the effort to ground lies in at least something tangible led Cheney and Rumsfeld to “apply relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al-Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime.”
Cheney even got the Czech Republic tangled up in his lies. At a press conference on Dec. 9, 2001, he mentioned a “report that’s been pretty well confirmed” that Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 attackers, had been in Prague a year earlier, where he met with a high-ranking official of the Iraqi secret service. Declassified documents nevertheless eventually showed that the CIA had reported the day before Cheney’s press appearance that the report was false and that according to their information “there was no evidence Atta left or returned to the U.S. at the time he was supposed to be in Prague.”
That did not prevent Cheney from speaking of a “Czech trail.” He had no evidence, but the lies functioned without it. His statement from 2002 is typical: “Simply stated, 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.” And there you have it. The central motive of these lies was a propaganda campaign with the aim of connecting Saddam Hussein with al-Qaida and, thereby, with the attacks of 9/11. The media and politicians repeated it so many times that many Americans — and not just Americans — believe it to this day. Not to mention the “coalition of the willing,” among which the Czech Republic figured.
“When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks,” recalled Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy recently on Democracy Now. “And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported al-Qaida. None of this opinion is based on evidence, because there isn’t any. All of it is based on insinuation or to suggestion and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the ‘free press,’ that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests. Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.”
The chief U.N. weapons inspector from 2003, Hans Blix, declared to CNN this week that the Iraq War was a “terrible mistake — and violation of the UN charter …. The war aimed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but there weren't any. The war aimed to eliminate al-Qaida in Iraq, but the terrorist group didn't exist in the country until after the invasion.”
As a result of the aggression, Iraq has, de facto, disintegrated into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish areas; 10 years later, bomb attacks regularly rock larger cities. Hundreds of their victims recall, day after day, that Bush’s invasion only resulted in throwing Iraq into sectarian struggles, compared to which the overthrow of one dictator and the occupation of foreign oil fields is a very debatable positive.