18 Years Ago Today the US War on Iraq Began

On the anniversary, Ann Wright voices opposition to the weapons build-up against China and the construction of a $1.9 billion defense radar in her home state of Hawaii.

Feb. 15, 2003: New York City police attempt to restrain protesters during rally against the expected U.S. invasion of Iraq. (Kafziel Complaint Department, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Ann Wright

March 19 is the 18th anniversary of the U.S. government’s political decision to invade and occupy oil-rich, Arab/Muslim Iraq, a country of 32 million people. U.S. elected officials and their advisers decided it would be in the U.S. national security interest to attack and overthrow the Iraqi government. 

We saw how the military attack on Iraq — which was based on the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives, homes, infrastructure and culture and unleashed a whirlwind of unintended (or sometimes intended) consequences that we are dealing with even now 18 years later.

At the time I was a U.S. diplomat assigned as the deputy chief of mission (deputy ambassador) in Mongolia.  I had spent most of my adult life in the U.S. government’s national security agencies. I served 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves and retired as a colonel.  I was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. 

I was on the small team that reopened the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001 and remained in Afghanistan for four months. At the U.S. Department of State, I had assignments in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the office of International Security Affairs and in the office of Arms Control. 

On that day 18 years ago, I resigned from the U.S. government in opposition to the disastrous U.S. war on Iraq, the results of which has continued to destabilize the Middle East.

Protesters against the Iraq War in London, Feb. 15, 2003. (Ben Sutherland, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Hearing in Hawaii

Now, 18 years later, on Friday, the Hawai’i State Legislature will have a hearing on increased military weaponry that is a part of the U.S war machine.  Due to citizen activism against militarization of Hawai’i, the State Legislature will discuss the citizen written resolution that opposes the construction of a $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar in Hawai’i. 

I oppose the $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar site on any of the islands of Hawai’i. I am opposed to wasting our tax money on obsolete weapons systems.  The Homeland Defense Radar will not defend against the newer generations of ballistic, hypersonic, and low-flying cruise missiles that are capable of Mach 4 speed and being developed by China, Russia (and yes, by the United States).  These missiles can evade ground-based radar detection by overflying air defense sensors and flying below ballistic missile sensors, rendering the HDR-H obsolete.

Recognizing that the radar will not be useful against these weapons, the Missile Defense Agency of the Department of Defense defunded the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawai’i in the 2020 Defense Authorization Act.  Instead, the Missile Defense Agency funded a next generation space-based global sensor system and upgraded the sea-based X-band radar “golf ball” for $47,000,000 in place of the already obsolete HDR-H. The upgrade of the X-Band radar is five times cheaper than even the $255,000,000 that has been allotted alone for the environmental impact statement for the ultimate site of the radar.

Jan. 9, 2006: Sea Based X-Band “Golf Ball” Radar (SBX)  enters Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, aboard a heavy lift vessel. (U.S. Navy, Ryan C. McGinley)

It is through the work of the Hawai’i congressional delegation that the funding request for the Homeland Defense Radar was put back into the Department of Defense budget.  As I well know having worked in both the Departments of Defense and State, members of the U.S. Congress put into the national budget, weapons systems that DoD does not need or want.  This is done to create jobs in their congressional districts and to reward corporations and industries that make financial contributions to their congressional political campaigns. 

As a former diplomat, I think $1.9 billion could be used in more effective ways to counter threats to U.S. national security.  It appears that the U.S. political establishment and those who make money out of military confrontation have decided that China’s economic and cyber threats to the U.S. can be solved by an U.S. increase in military weaponry.  I sincerely doubt they believe that actual warfare against the 1.3 billion persons who live in China is advisable, but the weapons build-up is a way to assert U.S. power in the Western Pacific.  

Let us hope that none of our politicians believe that nuclear bombing or any type of military attack on any of the over 130 cities in China that have over 1 million inhabitants (the U.S. has 45 cities with over 1 million while in all of the European Union there are 36 cities with over 1 million) will enhance U.S. national security.

With 30+ years working in the U.S. national security establishment, I firmly believe that an investment of $1.9 billion in diplomatic, nonviolent initiatives with China, North Korea and Iran will go much further toward resolving U.S. national security issues that the construction of the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawai’i and the increasing military confrontation with China in the Western Pacific.

For these reasons, I strongly oppose construction of the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawai’i. 

And I oppose U.S. wars everywhere as they are evidence of the profitability of war…and the lack of effort to resolve international issues nonviolently through negotiation and diplomacy.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves and retired as a colonel.  She was also a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Mongolia and was on the small team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001 and remained in Afghanistan for four  months.  She resigned from the U.S. government on March 19, 2003 in opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq.  She lives in Honolulu.

The views expressed are solely those of the authors and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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5 comments for “18 Years Ago Today the US War on Iraq Began

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    March 20, 2021 at 12:03

    So much for approximately 10 million people world-wide protesting against this war. “Democracy”…the will of the people, totally buried. The “powers that be” only listen to that which suits them.

  2. KiwiAntz
    March 20, 2021 at 06:56

    America is a deranged & delusional Nation, wasting billions of their increasingly, worthless USD currency, printed out of thin air, on obsolete weapons of War & has to create enemies to justify this huge waste of resources? Having exported all their jobs & Industry to China, the only thing left of their Manufacturing base in the US is Weapons making! America is literally rotting from within because of this foolishness & thanks to its lousy COVID response, the Nation is in Terminal & irreversible, economic decline! If you want to really see how this ridiculous misappropriation of funds are affecting & bankrupting its citizenry, read Jessica Bruder’s book Nomadland which describes in great detail about the economic decay & despondency caused by not investing in your own people, because the Military Industrial Complex is syphoning away all the money for endless Wars! America needs to get its priorities right & start spending on things that matter & end this MIC financial abuse or else its going down the toilet & taking its people with it!

    • Vera Gottlieb
      March 20, 2021 at 12:04

      How much longer before Monopoly money has more value than the US dollar???

  3. Truth first
    March 19, 2021 at 16:56

    Sounds good however America is a warrior nation and prefers to spend billions, trillions, on weapons before anything else. Until the American mindset changes America will remain this planets greatest threat.

    • robert e williamson jr
      March 19, 2021 at 21:21

      Truth is your comment is a great job stating the obvious, now what?

      Seriously, speak to me some truth to power such as the author did here. An attempt on her part to alter the American mindset, done in her way and by educating using facts. Her resignation speaks volumes about her loyalty to her country and the American public.

      She is talking the talk and walking the walk. We need millions more just like her.

      Thanks CN

Comments are closed.