Iraq War, an Unaccountable Crime

Britain’s Chilcot report recalled the Iraq War lies that justified an aggressive war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, but this international crime has largely been sloughed off with almost no accountability, as Eric S. Margolis noted.

By Eric S. Margolis

Last week’s Chilcot report on Britain’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was as polite and guarded as a proper English tea party. No direct accusations, no talk of war crimes by then Prime Minister Tony Blair or his guiding light, President George W. Bush. But still pretty damning.

Such government reports and commissions, as was wittily noted in the delightful program “Yes, Prime Minister,” are designed to obscure rather than reveal the truth and bury awkward facts in mountains of paper. And beneath mountains of lies.

President George W. Bush receiving applause during his 2003 State of the Union Address in which he laid out a fraudulent case for invading Iraq.

President George W. Bush receiving applause during his 2003 State of the Union Address in which he laid out a fraudulent case for invading Iraq.

The biggest lie on both sides of the Atlantic was that the invasion and destruction of Iraq was the result of “faulty intelligence.” The Bush and Blair camps and the U.S. and British media keep pushing this absurd line.

This writer, who had covered Iraq since 1976, was one of the first to assert that Baghdad had no so-called weapons of mass destruction, and no means of delivering them even if it did. For this I was dropped and black-listed by the leading U.S. TV cable news network and leading U.S. newspapers.

I had no love for the brutal Saddam Hussein, whose secret police threatened to hang me as a spy. But I could not abide the intense war propaganda coming from Washington and London, served up by the servile, mendacious U.S. and British media. The planned invasion of Iraq was not about nuclear weapons or democracy, as Bush claimed.

Two powerful factions in Washington were beating the war drums: ardently pro-Israel neoconservatives who yearned to see an enemy of Israel destroyed, and a cabal of conservative oil men and imperialists around Vice President Dick Cheney who sought to grab Iraq’s huge oil reserves at a time they believed oil was running out. They engineered the Iraq War, as blatant and illegal an aggression as Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

Britain’s smarmy Tony Blair tagged along with the war boosters in hopes that the U.K. could pick up the crumbs from the invasion and reassert its former economic and political power in the Arab world. Blair had long been a favorite of British neoconservatives. The silver-tongued Blair became point man for the war in preference to the tongue-twisted, stumbling George Bush. But the real warlord was VP Dick Cheney.

There was no “flawed intelligence.” There were intelligence agencies bullied into reporting a fake narrative to suit their political masters. And a lot of fake reports concocted by our Mideast allies like Israel and Kuwait.

After the even mild Chilcot report, Blair’s reputation is in tatters, as it should be. How such an intelligent, worldly man could have allowed himself to be led around by the doltish, swaggering Bush is hard to fathom.

Europe’s leaders and Canada refused to join the Anglo-American aggression. France, which warned Bush of the disaster he would inflict, was slandered and smeared by U.S. Republicans as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” In the event, the real monkeys were the Bush and Blair governments.

Saddam Hussain, a former U.S. ally, was deposed and lynched. Iraq, the most advanced Arab nation, was almost totally destroyed. Up to one million Iraqis may have been killed, though the Chilcot report claimed only a risible 150,000.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

As Saddam had predicted, the Bush-Blair invasion opened the gates of hell, and out came Al Qaeda and then ISIS. The U.S. and British media, supposedly the bulwark of democracy, rolled over and  became an organ of government war propaganda. Blair had the august BBC purged for failing to fully support his drive for war. BBC has never recovered.

Interestingly, last week’s news of the Chilcot investigation was buried deep inside The New York Times on Thursday. The Times was a key partisan of the war. So too the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and the big TV networks. Without their shameful connivance, the Iraq War might not have happened.

Bush and Blair have the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers on their heads, the devastation of Iraq, our $1 trillion war, the ever-expanding mess in the Mideast, and the violence what we wrongly blame on  “terrorism” and so-called “radical Islam.”

The men and women responsible for this biggest disaster in our era should be brought to account. As long as Bush and Blair swan around and collect speaking fees, we have no right to lecture other nations, including Russia and China, on how to run a democracy or rule of law.  Bush and Blair should be facing trial for war crime at the Hague Court.

Eric S. Margolis was a contributing editor to the Toronto Sun chain of newspapers, writing mainly about the Middle East, South Asia and Islam. He contributes to the Huffington Post and appears frequently on Canadian television broadcasts. Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016. [Re-posted with the author’s permission.]

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23 comments for “Iraq War, an Unaccountable Crime

  1. Joe Tedesky
    July 12, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I am happy to hear that Eric S. Margolis, just as Robert Parry, told their bosses to take this job and shove it, due to their adherence to being good reporters, and not editorial hacks which is what their ex-employers wanted them to become. I have been reading articles written by Mr Margolis for some time now, and after reading this, I’m hooked on his journalism.

    When it comes to serving justice to the likes of Blair, Cheney, and others, I wonder how this can be done. I know there are such courts that exist, but how does one go about prosecuting these evil warmongering leaders? The only institution that seems to carry any weight at all, are these trade agreements, and these lopsided deals are written in such a way as to further corporate profits, and nothing else. So how does one bring justice to the world?

    The other side of this problem is the corporate media. How in the world does one bring these corrupted wordsmiths to do their job honestly? Outside of bad leaders, the real problem is the media. Unlike Robert Parry, and Eric Margolis, these media trolls are dishing out the spin to such a degree, that the average citizen is blinded to what the real truth is.

    In fact, knowing the truth in this country anymore is almost like becoming unpatriotic, since you do know the truth. I had this brought up to me one day while disgusting Russia with a retired friend of mine. I then asked this dear friend if he were accusing me of being unpatriotic. He said no, but that I sounded more like a loyal friend to Putin, than Obama. Funny thing was, that among this friend and the others who were there, I was the only one who had served four years active duty in the Navy, which was more than the others could say about themselves. I then instructed this friend to read some of the references I was giving him, and to find out for himself just what is going on in regard to America’s foreign policies.

    I love this country mostly for the people in it. I’m not happy with our country’s foreign policy adventures, and for that I will wear whatever tag someone wishes to pin on me. Make no mistake about it, as a nation we are lost, and for this you may thank such people as Bush, Cheney, Clinton, and now Obama. So, maybe aim you patriotic labels towards those people, and then you might be getting close to hitting you real target of what is unpatriotic.

    • Lee
      July 12, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      How lies created the case for the Iraq war

      Tony Blair did not go to war in Iraq because of ‘mistakes’ or ‘honestly held beliefs’—evidence given to the Chilcot inquiry exposes a deliberate process of lies to justify intervention, writes Nick Clark

      https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/43062/How+lies+created+the+case+for+the+Iraq+war

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 13, 2016 at 2:32 pm

        Blair reminds of the guy who stayed out with his wife cheating friend all night, and then expects his own wife to understand ‘his bad judgement’. So, let’s let a bitter wife judge this man, and then let’s see if she finds him innocent of the lie, and accepts ‘his bad judgement’ plea. In fact, I will submit my own wife to be among a panel of women judges, and then let’s see this bugger squirm. Bad judgement never worked for me, so what gives Blair a reprieve to his ‘bad judgement’. Blair’s bad judgement, was to lie to the English people. Now, when will it be Bush and Cheney’s turn?

    • Erik
      July 13, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Yes, the truth seems unpatriotic to those lost in mass media propaganda. The article tries to excuse GWB oilmen by claiming that “they believed oil was running out.” In fact the US can buy oil from whomever has it, and more easily when it is neutral. They knew that, and knew all about shale oil fracking reserves, and did not even get Iraq oil contracts let alone free oil. It was a lie: the warmongers trained militarists to say “It’s the oil, stupid!” They knew it was a lie.

      Democracy promotion was a lie: democracy is a tree that must be nurtured in a fertile soil of peaceful generations and lack of entrenched factions. The warmongers claimed that Democracy™ could be fired from a cannon into a desert, and they got the cloud of burning splinters that they knew always results. The US has overthrown democracies around the world and has substituted dictatorships. They knew it was a lie.

      Humanitarian claims were a lie: the US had no history of humanitarianism there or anywhere else, and has killed over six million innocents since WWII to prove the worthlessness of “our finest” when it could have lifted half the world from extreme poverty, disease, ignorance, and malnutrition. US foreign aid amounts to one meal a year for the starving, no more than a sales gimmick. They knew it was a lie.

      The US fails to promote democracy and human rights because it does not have those values: the tools of democracy are controlled by money. The Constitution has no protection of elections or mass media from economic concentrations, which have overthrown democracy in a right-wing revolution. This has allowed tyrants to control democracy, as Aristotle warned, by causing foreign wars to demand domestic power and accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty.

      The revolution of warmonger tyrants has disgraced the United States forever with idiotic wars and a litany of selfishness since WWII, and left the US the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world’s history. These are acts of treason by tyrants. Perhaps it should be punished as in China, quite mercilessly, because only fear regulates the tyrant.

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 13, 2016 at 2:53 pm

        “In the early days of the Bush II administration —as was the case for much of the Clinton presidency —the powerful U.S. oil lobby was intensely lobbying Congress to ease, even to remove, sanctions on Iraq and two other oil producing “rogue” states —Iran and Libya. But an even more influential bloc, the pro-Israel lobby, consistently scuttled the oil lobby’s efforts, which would have allowed Washington to re-establish economic relationships with Israel’s enemies. A May 2001 piece in Business Week by Rose Brady reported that the easing of sanctions on rogue states “pits powerful interests such as the pro-Israeli lobby and the U.S. oil industry against each other. And it is sure to preoccupy the Bush Administration and Congress.” 75 Interestingly, Cheney was identified as being in the anti-sanctions camp. Further, Brady noted that the Bush administration was under mounting pressure from U.S. businesses because the sanctions against these countries allowed foreign firms to profit at the expense of U.S. corporations. “American farmers, workers, and companies have sacrificed without any progress toward U.S. foreign policy objectives,” wrote Donald A. Deline, Halliburton’s director of government affairs, to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.). 76 Regarding Iraq, the interests of the oil lobby blended in with the view of much of world opinion that the existing sanctions on Iraq were causing a humanitarian disaster. So the campaign to reduce sanctions on Iraq was enveloped by a strong moral aura. 77 An influential energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney broached the possibility of lifting some economic sanctions against Iran, Libya and Iraq as part of a plan to increase America’s oil supply. According to a draft of the task force report, the United States should review the sanctions against the three countries because of the importance of their oil production”

        Excerpt from; The Transparent Cabal: the Neoconservative Agenda by Stephen J Sniegoski, Paul Findley, and Paul Gottfried
        ……………………………………………………………………………………………

        I would recommend reading this book. Like all literature, this book is not the end all of all there is to learn, but it helps shed light on just what agenda is being served with all this war in the Middle East. Let’s just say, America’s interest is not on the top of any list, if there happens to be one. No, the agenda being served is Israel’s Yinon Plan is being implemented by America’s involvement. America needs to clean house. Guest who needs to get the broom?

  2. Lee
    July 12, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    This is stupid. Bush lied but poor worldly, intelligent Blair was taken in. Where is the maturity of this so-called left.

  3. J'hon Doe II
    July 12, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    George W. Bush gave a fine militaristic speech at the memorial service today. A fine Texas tongue lashing style of speech at a time that calls for deep solemnity. It is a speech to be studied as an historical document for a multitude of reasons/angles.
    It is a responsible speech in that Mr. Bush held strongly to his southern roots. Texas pride.

    Or it could have a Reflexive Farewell to or Response to or Word to Mr. Obama sort of ring to it… .

    It was also a highly political speech. It was a speech with a dignity that humanized Mr Bush.

    The self-destructing hatred must die before memories evaporate. ( Time Keeps Ticking )

    http://time.com/4403510/george-w-bush-speech-dallas-shooting-memorial-service/

    • Bill Bodden
      July 12, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Bush’s speech. What a crocki!!!

    • Zachary Smith
      July 12, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      It was a speech with a dignity that humanized Mr Bush.

      The speechwriter put together a nice bunch of words, but they do Bush no credit at all, in my personal opinion. Now if the man were to show up at the funeral of any of the innocents (of any race) murdered by police, then I’d begin to be a bit more impressed.

      Most likely that’ll happen the same year Bush goes on trial for War Crimes.

  4. J'hon Doe II
    July 12, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Mr Bush on his high regard for police;

    “WE COUNT THEM
    AS FRIENDS
    AND WE KNOW!

    THAT THEIR COURAGE
    IS OUR PROTECTION!
    AND SHEILD!!!”
    ::

    Shrinking majorities
    live under a punishing
    Rule Of Law system
    very far removed from
    The Stepford lifestyle

    The police are opposed to ‘friendly
    and present with malice aforethought
    in a stockyard of Impending death.

    Imagine having police as your friends !

  5. Lee
    July 12, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    How lies created the case for the Iraq war

    Tony Blair did not go to war in Iraq because of ‘mistakes’ or ‘honestly held beliefs’—evidence given to the Chilcot inquiry exposes a deliberate process of lies to justify intervention, writes Nick Clark

    https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/43062/How+lies+created+the+case+for+the+Iraq+war

  6. Gregory Herr
    July 12, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    The photograph embedded in the article! Cheney & Bush so pleased with themselves.

    • Zachary Smith
      July 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      I know I repeat myself, but if there happens to be any kind of after-death situation like Purgatory, the Supreme Court Five who put Bush and Cheney in office back in 2000 will surely be in that place for a few eons. Hopefully they’ll be in the part of town with fleas, lice, bedbugs, and endless mosquitoes.

  7. Hillary
    July 13, 2016 at 6:01 am

    ” How such an intelligent, worldly man could have allowed himself to be led around by the doltish, swaggering Bush is hard to fathom.”

    May one suggest it was because they are & were both staunch Zionists ?

    • Brad Owen
      July 13, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Or staunch Imperial Tories perhaps, using Zionism as convenient fig leaf cover for this particular Province of (The New Roman) Empire? Only Cecil Rhodes and his “RoundTable Group” (or whatever they are calling themselves now-a-days), perhaps in conference with SME, know for sure. And the reason for the war? “…Iraq, the most advanced Arab Nation…” probably followed by Libya, and Syria. Can’t have no independent Muslim Empire rearing its’ ugly head AGAIN, on PanEuropa’s southern flank. Apparently The Great Game (Geopolitics) continues on…

  8. Joe L.
    July 13, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    It almost feels sometimes like we are the true enemies of our governments as they constantly need to lie to us to gain support for whatever shady endeavour that they have in mind. For me, the Iraq War showed the true face of evil where a million or more people were murdered in a campaign of thievery. Bush, Blair, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. should all be brought up on war crimes before the Hague but, sadly, the US is not a “ratified” member of the International Criminal Court and though the UK is a ratified member of the International Criminal Court, as George Galloway put it, “Tony Blair is not black or African enough to stand trial”. The lesson that we need to learn from Iraq is that our government’s will use whatever means to “persuade” us – as what was done with Iraq. Britain even went as far as having an Operation to propagandize its’ own people to support going to war – Operation Mass Appeal.

    Wikipedia: Operation Mass Appeal

    Operation Mass Appeal was an operation set up by the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the runup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was a campaign aimed at planting stories in the media about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. The existence of the operation was exposed in December 2003, although officials denied that the operation was deliberately disseminating misinformation. The MI6 operation secretly incorporated the United Nations Special Commission investigating Iraq’s alleged stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) into its propaganda efforts by recruiting UN weapons inspector and former MI6 collaborator Scott Ritter to provide copies of UN documents and reports on their findings to MI6.

    Former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter revealed in his book, Iraq Confidential (2005), the existence of an MI6-run psychological warfare effort, known as Operation Mass Appeal. According to Ritter: “Mass Appeal served as a focal point for passing MI6 intelligence on Iraq to the media, both in the UK and around the world. The goal was to help shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD.” MI6 propaganda specialists claimed they could spread the misinformation through “editors and writers who work with us from time to time”.

    Ritter, in an interview with Amy Goodman of the US news website Democracy Now!, described how he, as an arms inspector for the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction—and UNSCOM itself—became deeply involved in MI6’s “Operation Mass Appeal”:

    I ran intelligence operations for the United Nations in regards to the disarmament of Iraq. That was my job. Part of this job in 1997 and 1998 took on a propaganda aspect, given the fact that we had launched a series of controversial and confrontational inspections in Iraq, which although successful from a disarmament standpoint in exposing aspects of the Iraqi account which were not accurate, were causing problems for the United Nations in the Security Council […] We made a decision. We, being Richard Butler, the Executive Chairman who ran UNSCOM, and his senior staff members, of which I was one, that we needed to clean up our public image, and we did a number of things […] [In December of 1997] I was approached by the British intelligence service, which I had, again, a long relationship with, of an official nature, to see if there was any information in the archives of UNSCOM that could be handed to the British, so that they could in turn work it over, determine its veracity, and then seek to plant it in media outlets around the world, in an effort to try to shape the public opinion of those countries, and then indirectly, through, for instance, a report showing up in the Polish press, shape public opinion in Great Britain and the United States.

    I went to Richard Butler with the request from the British. He said that he supported this, and we initiated a cooperation that was very short-lived. The first reports were passed to the British sometime in February of 1998. There was a detailed planning meeting in June of 1998, and I resigned in August of 1998. […] This is an operation — Operation Mass Appeal, that had been going on prior to UNSCOM being asked to be the source of particular data, and it’s an operation that continued after my resignation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mass_Appeal

  9. J'hon Doe II
    July 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Zachary Smith – “The speechwriter put together a nice bunch of words, but they do Bush no credit at all, in my personal opinion.”

    Apologetically speaking, Zachary Smith, I most assuredly agree that the entire Bush cabal consists of raw criminal murderous thieves. What you write above is connected to the most egregious conspiracy since the organized murders of JFK and RFK.
    That said, I watched maybe 5 or 10 minutes of his speech and abruptly shut the TV off. I couldn’t stomach seeing and hearing the hypocritical lies and bullspit.

    Reading the speech is a different experience – there’s time for reflection, or parsing and recall. Time to consider his words in context of Tony Blair’s apology, for example. Will any of them stand in a court of justice for their horrid crimes? Most likely not.

    The speech as a document stands as abiding testament to Bush’s characteristics — words as compared to the actions of his life. If he suffers any pangs of conscience, he probably consoles himself with an idea that, as president, he “served his country well.” His conscience is Protected and Sheild by the privilege attached to Family Bush and all of the other families he called, tantalizingly, “My Base.” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn4daYJzyls ){20 sec.}

    — We know the lowlights of his history and are significantly displeased. The documents he leaves are here to be dissected, analyzed as counterpoints to a “polished” historical record.

    • Olivia
      July 16, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Draft dodger GW Bush doesn’t give much thought to his invasion/crusade in Iraq nor or the suffering of the “all voluntary army soldiers” in my opinion. Consider his and Laura’s acceptance of $150,000 and $50,000 respectively for their speeches at a Wounded Warrior fund raising event, which also included a $30,000 travel bonus for their entourage. Does he have any conscience at all?

  10. Joe L.
    July 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Another sad observation is that the military industrial complex seems to almost be a religion in the United States, and the west in general. I mean doesn’t it have some tell tale signs of a religion such as the idea of blasphemy. I mean look at the ensuing fervour that was created by John Lennon on March 4, 1966 when Lennon said, “Christianity will go”. “It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” Then after those comments by Lennon there was such as uproar to cause people to burn Beatles records and denounce the Beatles. Now we look at, especially the Iraq War, and the drumbeat for war where anyone that questioned the war was a traitor, unpatriotic, or un-American and it was essentially “blasphemy” to speak out about the war. People like Phil Donahue, Rosie O’Donnell, the Dixie Chicks etc. either lost their jobs or were marginalized with disturbing ridicule. Then we look at things like the movie “American Sniper” which severely misrepresented Chris Kyle and was a despotic view from the “invader” who was the “good guy”, the hero, meanwhile online how many “patriots” came out to defend Kyle or even express how much they wanted to murder “ragheads”. I think that “militarism”, especially in the US, has all the tell tale signs of a religion – which is frightening…

    • bobby 1949
      July 13, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      John had the last word, though. I remember seeing him interviewed for his opinion on people burning Beatle records, and he said, “as long as they buy them first!”

      • Joe L.
        July 13, 2016 at 6:58 pm

        bobby 1949… thank you for the reply. I tell you we could really use a John Lennon at this time. Where has all of opposition to war gone in music, I don’t see it very much anymore. These days it just seems that music is about money and demoralizing women then anything political. I can think of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, “Give Peace a Chance”, CCR’s “Fortunate Son”, Edwin Starr’s “War”, Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, Def Leppard’s “Gods of War”, Genesis’ “Land of Confusion”, Megadeth’s “Peace Sells” etc.

  11. John Puma
    July 13, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Continuous, public crime against Iraq is unbroken since Bush I’s 1991 Desert Storm.
    Clinton, for his entire eight-year tenure, loyally maintained Bush I’s “economic sanctions.”

    A million or more Iraqi deaths can be attributed to those sanctions alone.
    It was these needless deaths (50% children) that Sec St. Albright deemed “worth it.”

    The sanctions continued until frank invasion in March 2003.

    So, when indictments of heinous crimes against humanity are being handed out, let’s not limit the list to Cheney/Bush/Blair.

  12. Oz
    July 14, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I’m not buying the idea of half-wit George W. Bush leading “worldly, intelligent” Blair around by the nose. The British elite have been whispering in the ears of American presidents since the death of FDR, and only a precious few, such as Eisenhower and JFK, have been unwilling to do their dirty work.

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