Today, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the Pentagon would be sending 560 more troops to Iraq. The increase brings the total number of US servicemembers in Iraq to 4,600, many of whom are in combat roles. Though there has been no formal declaration or announcement, the US is, once again, at war in Iraq.
The US has even gone so far as to build a new military base in northern Iraq. It was near that base that a US marine was killed by a rocket attack last March. A Navy SEAL died in May, fighting in the same region. So far, there have been at least three US combat deaths since President Obama ordered combat forces back into Iraq to fight ISIS.
But while the Obama Administration is sending troops to Iraq for a new war, the Iraq War of 2003 has been revisited in the United Kingdom by an exhaustive report by Sir John Chilcot. The findings slam both the US and UK government’s actions and claims prior to the invasion. Being a UK report, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the main focus, though US policymakers are implicated by extension.
The major findings can be summarized as:
- There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.
- The strategy of containment against Iraq could have been adapted and continued for some time.
- The UK undermined the UN Security Council’s authority when it sought to push through a second resolution, despite continued support on the council for UN inspections and monitoring.
- Blair made the decision to follow American policy on Iraq as early as December 2001, two years before the war began.
- He overestimated the influence he had on the George W Bush administration.
- He was warned that invasion would increase the risk of a terrorist attack in UK.
Most of this isn’t news. We know the threat was hyped and that Saddam Hussein was actually well-contained. We know those claiming otherwise in government knew those facts. In short, we know positively that Bush lied and people died.
Yet, there were some serious revelations in the Chilcot report, particularly concerning how early the decision was made to go to war in Iraq. In a July 2002 memo, titled, “Note on Iraq,” [PDF] Blair makes it plain that he and President Bush have already agreed to militarily overthrow Saddam Hussein, and are now planning how to best manage the aftermath. The memo actually notes that the UN is merely a prop for a public relations battle and that peace is off the table.
One aspect of the Iraq War, which the Chilcot report appears to leave out, is oil. In 2011, The Independent revealed the existence of UK government memos, which showed that “Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.”
As noted by The Canary, the evidence of oil as a major driver for the US and UK invading Iraq is overwhelming. Both government strategy memos and actions taken by coalition forces themselves clearly demonstrate Iraq’s oil was of key interest to those overthrowing Saddam Hussein. One of the most obvious examples is that after US and coalition forces prevailed against Hussein’s forces, they protected the oil fields, while letting widespread looting sweep the country.
So, there you have it. The catastrophe of the 2003 Iraq War has been cataloged and officially condemned. At least in the UK. Though US veterans would like a similar report, the best they can likely hope for is some small hesitation from America’s imperialist class before calling for regime change. Maybe not even that.