A nonexistent Iraq

My following article appeared in yesterday’s ABC Unleashed:

More than five years after the start of the Iraq war, the country remains mired in conflict. The Washington Post highlighted the quagmire this week:

Attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces soared across Baghdad in the last week of March to the highest levels since the deployment of additional U.S. troops here reached full strength last June, according to U.S. military data and analysis.

The vast majority of the Western media has marked the anniversary of the invasion with analysis of the ways in which the war was fought, rather than an examination of the legality or morality of the action.

Propaganda becomes accepted truth. “We” are winning. The “surge” is working. Iraqis are “pleased” with our presence.

Nowhere were Iraqis featured. Their voices were deemed irrelevant. Armchair commentators, most of whom had only seen Iraq through the eyes of American soldiers, pontificated about the country’s future and Iran’s allegedly malign influence.

The fact that 160,000 American troops and over 160,000 private contractors occupy the nation was ignored. The country remains largely controlled by militias backed by Iran or Washington, Sunni and Shiite death squads tasked for ethnic cleansing.

Editor and Publisher‘s Greg Mitchell writes that the fifth anniversary could have been a moment of serious media reflection on its own discredited role in the invasion. But alas:

In the thousands of articles and television reports marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, nearly every important aspect of the war was probed. Fingers were pointed at the usual suspects—Rumsfeld, Bremer, and Cheney; stubborn Republicans and weak-willed Democrats, among many others—but conspicuously absent from the media coverage was any soul-searching on behalf of the press, as if there had been no major media slips or tragic omissions over the past five years. With months to plan for the commemoration, the media were ready to take stock of everything—but themselves.

The recent battle in Basra between US-backed Iraqi forces and cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army was labelled by George W. Bush as a “defining moment in the history of a free Iraq”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took responsibility for the struggle to crush al-Sadr’s militia. It was a dismal failure and Washington quickly backed away from its initial support.

“After five years of massive US training and equipment”, argues commentator Robert Dreyfus, “the Iraqi armed forces weren’t even able to take control of Iraq’s second-largest city.”

Transparency group Wikileaks just released a secret US document that revealed a top Iraqi police general provided al-Sadr’s militias with American-made weapons and intelligence.

Washington has spent years demonising the Mahdi Army as an Iranian proxy. The Western media rarely explain the complex tribal loyalties of the various Iraqi factions. The “good guys” are not the ones being funded by the West.

After an estimated one million Iraqis deaths since 2003, the refugee crisis is staggering in its magnitude. Travelling through the Middle East last year, the issues of the Iraqi exodus struck me while I was in Iran, Syria and Egypt. Millions of displaced people are struggling to find work, shelter and meaning.

Colleague Mike Otterman recently met Iraqi refugees in Syria and discovered countless tales of violence against civilians by Americans, al-Qaeda or rogue militias.

As one of the finest journalists on the war, Nir Rosen, has said: “Iraq does not exist anymore”.

On the fifth anniversary, The Australian newspaper editorialised that despite the “poor planning and botched execution”, “the justification for the US intervention remains as strong as ever”. No price is too high to support Washington’s imperial designs.

Solomon Hughes, in his 2007 book, War on Terror Inc. writes that “the whole direction of transatlantic responses to the terrorist attacks [on 9/11] relied on profit-making companies.”

Rest assured that somebody is making a killing from endless war.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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