A list of must-reads compiled by Scott Horton for the anniversary of the start of the Iraq War
One of the Paris terror suspects was radicalized by outrage over American torture and the invasion of Iraq. The Huffington Post reports:
“The Associated Press said that Cherif Kouachi was tried in 2008 for helping funnel fighters to Iraq and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Kouachi told the court at the time that he was outraged by images that revealed the torture of Iraqi inmates by U.S. guards at the Abu Ghraib prison, according to the AP.”
And The New York Times reports:
“Chérif’s interest in radical Islam, it was said at the 2008 trial, was rooted in his fury over the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, particularly the mistreatment of Muslims held at Abu Ghraib prison.”
Last October, The New York Times ran a story about the effects of abandoned chemical weapons in Iraq from a program that was abandoned in the early 90s, and so had nothing to do with Bush Administration WMD accusations that were used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, the “Paper of Record” (which played such a large role deceiving the public in the run-up to the Iraq War) gave the article a headline that read, “The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons,” and that did not give any indication when the weapons were abandoned. This deceptiveness was compounded when the massively popular conservative news aggregation web site The Drudge Report linked to the story with a huge, top-level, even more deceptive headline that read, “NYT: PENTAGON HUSHED IRAQ’S USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.”
That was all it took for confirmation bias to take over, as conservatives all across the country leapt on the deceptive headlines (of course, not bothering to read the actual article) as a permanent talking point for claiming that it was right to invade Iraq all along, since Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction after all.
And now, three months later, we see the fruits of that deception. RT today reported on a new survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind that found that, “4 in 10 Americans erroneously believe US found active WMDs in Iraq.”
“PublicMind noted that the discovery of degraded chemical weapons in Iraq – likely leftover materials from a program that ended in the early 1990s – might explain some confusion. The presence of these weapons was first reported in October 2014.”
Of course, it wasn’t the “discovery” itself that caused the confusion, but, once again, shoddy, unprofessional, and irresponsible (if not downright mendacious) journalism.
A 1999 comic book examined humanitarian intervention and regime change, predicting the Iraq War catastrophe.
Dictators are bad, therefore intervening to remove a dictator is good, right?
For many Iraq War supporters it was as simple as that, and they derided opponents as apologists for Saddam Hussein. Even now that the War has become a self-evident catastrophe and debacle, dead-enders among its architects still have the nerve to resort to this line. For example, in June of this year, John Bolton whined on television:
President Bush did absolutely the right thing in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and it’s kind of stunning to me to see you libertarians defending that dictatorship.
One might be tempted to call this a cartoonish, comic-book view. But as it turns out, that would be an unfair insult to comic books, since one particular comic book had a far more sophisticated and accurate perspective on the matter. In fact, it anticipated, in broad outlines, what would actually result from such a war four years before the Iraq War was launched.
In the 1999 graphic novel JLA: Superpower (written by John Arcudi and illustrated by Scot Eaton and Ray Kryssing), Superman, Batman, and the other super-heroes of the Justice League of America (JLA) struggle over what to do about “Kirai”, a “rogue” Middle Eastern country clearly based on Iraq.
Initially, Kirai is only on the fringes of the story. For example, a television in the background is shown to announce, “In other news, U.N. weapons inspectors were turned away in Kirai today.” This is probably an echo of then-recent developments. In 1998, the year before the comic was published, President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, which targeted that country for regime change, prompting Saddam to end cooperation with UN weapons inspectors. (In late 1999, UN inspectors were allowed to return .)
In the main thread of the narrative, the Justice League recruits a powerful young superhero named Mark Antaeus. Antaeus is extremely driven and idealistic. Years prior, due to the limits of his power, he wasn’t able to save a family from the collapse of a burning building. This failure haunted him, leading him to vow, “never again,” and to undergo extreme body modifications to greatly boost his power.
Continue reading “Superman and Batman Tried to Warn Us About Iraq”
The Sundance Now Doc Club is making My Country My Country, the Iraq documentary by Laura Poitras (of Edward Snowden fame, and director of the acclaimed new film, Citzenfour), available to watch for free online until November 24. Watch it here.
As the ISIS Sunni radicals, after proclaiming a new Caliphate, continue to conquer Iraqi towns, and the Al Nusra Front Sunni radicals proclaim a new Emirate in Syria, it is good to remember that the policy that led to this mess was initiated under the Bush Administration, with full cognizance of the possibility that it could result in severe terroristic and destabilizing blowback. It was in 2007 that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia launched what Seymour Hersh, who broke the story in The New Yorker, called “the Redirection.” Under this policy revolution, the U.S. and the Saudis (with Israel’s blessing and prodding) began trying to bolster Sunni radicals in an effort to “contain” the “Shiite resurgence” brought about by the U.S. empowerment of the Shiites in Iraq. It all started in Lebanon (emphasis added):
In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. (…)
The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”
“It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.”
(As it turns out, as reported by Patrick Cockburn, not all of the Saudis embraced such a blowback-inviting policy, so it would be more accurate to call it a victory for the Prince Bandar bin Sultan line.) The fact that U.S. policymakers concluded that beleaguered Iran, with its long track record of not attacking a single country, is more of a danger than Sunni radicals, like the ones responsible for 9/11 and every other Al Qaeda attack, is an indication of just how little our overlords care about actually protecting us, as compared to pursuing regional power politics.