The Iraq War: Why We Really Did It

The vaunted Iraqi air force, buried in the sand

The vaunted Iraqi air force, buried in the sand

Michael Murry

I watched Rachel Maddow’s new documentary (“Why We Did It”) on why the U.S. went to war in Iraq in 2003.  Her answer was “oil,” which is true enough as far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

First of all, a matter of style: I found her breathless “now it can be told”—after eleven years—demeanor more than a little annoying. As my fellow Vietnam veteran Daniel Ellsberg said many years ago: “The United States invaded Iraq for three reasons: Oil, Israel, and Domestic Political Advantage.” Former South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings gave only one reason: “The United States invaded Iraq to secure the state of Israel—and everybody knows it.” Long-time Republican Party analyst Kevin Phillips wrote a rather substantial book on this subject in 2006 entitled American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.

So, in my opinion, Rachel Maddow has come to the party, so to speak, well past midnight with blinders on. Yes, everyone who knew anything worth knowing realized—a decade ago—that oil company profiteers like G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney had Iraqi oil as a main objective in toppling the toothless tin-pot dictator Saddam Hussein. But other religious, political and financial goals had just as much influence on U.S. government policy makers, as noted by Kevin Phillips and many others, including Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007).

Some excerpts:

“‘The best time to invest is when there is still blood on the ground,’ [said] a delegate at the ‘Rebuilding Iraq 2′ conference in Washington, D.C.” [quoting Baron Rothschild]

“The fact that it was hard to find people in Baghdad who were interested in talking about economics was not surprising. The architects of this invasion were firm believers in the shock doctrine—they knew that while the Iraqis were consumed with daily emergencies, the country could be auctioned off discretely and the results announced as a done deal. As for journalists and activists, we seemed to be exhausting our attention on the spectacular physical attacks, forgetting that the parties with the most to gain never show up on the battlefield. And in Iraq there was plenty to gain: not just the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves but territory that was one of the last remaining holdouts from the drive to build a global market based on [Milton] Friedman’s vision of unfettered capitalism. After the crusade had conquered Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe [especially, Russia] and Asia [meaning, China], the Arab world called out as its last frontier.”

So, in sum, Iraq figured simply as one of the last targets for the Privatize-the-World oligarchs who now consider formerly sovereign national governments little more than wholly owned corporate sub-divisions. Yes, oil figured prominently in the mix. But so did obtaining a stranglehold on political/economic ideology and first access to other natural resources, together with gaining control of global financial debt leverage.

But most of all, the Iraq war was a bloody sideshow resulting from the “golden opportunity” to exploit 9/11/2001 so as to keep the world’s masses stunned and reeling from disaster, or just distracted by the news of it, so that the massive looting could take place unnoticed.

“When there’s blood in the streets [because we caused it to flow in torrents] then it’s time to buy everything [at fire-sale prices] that we can’t just steal for free.”

Overall, Maddow’s breathless documentary on the Iraq War was unimpressively one-dimensional.  And old news at that.

Michael Murry, a Vietnam Veteran, writer and poet, occupies the Asian Desk for The Contrary Perspective.

7 thoughts on “The Iraq War: Why We Really Did It

  1. The video that I saw of the Rachel Maddow presentation essentially served as a teaser trailer for an upcoming “in-depth” report to air on March 9th. But some of the snippets I caught at the very beginning simply made me seethe with exasperation.

    For example, one participant told of Cheney/Bush fears that Saddam Hussein would take advantage of tight oil supplies and rising demand by cutting oil production. I wondered, how could anyone make a statement like that when the Bill Clinton administration had spent the previous eight years sanctioning Iraq and forcibly preventing Saddam Hussein from selling Iraqi oil other than in restricted quantities in something called the “oil for food” program. In other words, the United States government had cut Iraqi oil production and then claimed to fear that Saddam Hussein would cut oil production! Perhaps the “actual” report will mention this fact and try to explain it?

    For another example, a participant spoke of finding no WMD in Iraq and then suddenly realizing: “We lost our legitimacy.” Again, had this same person not noticed that the U.S. and some other countries had obliterated Saddam Hussein’s army in 1991, followed by another eight years of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair imposing “no fly zones” and bombing the crap out of Iraq just for target practice? I mean, American and British pilots use to joke about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent air force: “If it flies, it dies.” Now what kind of a country that had fearsome “weapons of mass destruction” would allow itself to suffer such humiliating abuse for a decade? Perhaps the “actual” report will mention this fact and try to explain it?

    In any event, I don’t think I’ll watch any more of this kind of thing. Perhaps someone who does can tell me if any of the program deals with Iraq possibly offering to sell its oil in other than U.S. dollars? Or perhaps an intrepid viewer can tell me if Rachel Maddow mentions Israel’s “beggar the neighborhood” policy which the United States squanders so much of its blood and resources enforcing for its pariah parasite. I mean, a simple Google search can come up with some useful information, like:

    A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clean_Break:_A_New_Strategy_for_Securing_the_Realm

    A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then [and now current] Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”. It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, and the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare and highlighting their possession of “weapons of mass destruction”. [emphasis added]

    In short, anyone familiar with the 1990s — and the Israel-first neocon cabal in exile awaiting their return to power with Dubya and Dick in 2000 — could probably explain United States foreign policy to Rachel Maddow. It has to do with many factors besides oil, which no less an authority than Donald Rumsfeld simply dismissed (in 2004) as a “fungible” commodity that anyone can buy for a price much cheaper than the costs of going to war over it.

    • Another way of looking at the Iraqi invasion is to say it was over-determined. In other words, there were so many reasons to go to war. Didn’t Kissinger say something about Afghanistan not being enough? That we had to invade another country in the Middle East “to send a message.” Also, “W” wanted to unseat the man who had ultimately thwarted his father at the end of Desert Storm. Plus I think some people truly convinced themselves that Saddam had WMD. Since these self-confessed hawks (of the chicken variety) had so badly botched defending America on 9/11, I think this failure made them hyper-aggressive when it came to Iraq. They wanted to prove they were tough after being emasculated by Al Qaeda on 9/11 (think of the initial shock of “W” being informed of the attacks while reading that kid’s book about goats, followed by his initial use of the word “folks” for the attackers — which he quickly changed to terrorists, etc., once his speechwriters gave him the right tough notes to hit). And then think of all the oil! And think of the need to attack before it got too hot (and thus the timeline was far too short for weapons’ inspectors to finish their jobs). And so on.

      But the chickenhawks forgot that war is far more complex and unpredictable than they imagined … and thus we got more than 4000 US dead, another 150K+ Iraqi dead, 2 million = refugees, etc.

      • “The scale of the catastrophe in Iraq is so extreme that it can barely be reported.” — Noam Chomsky, Failed States (2006)

        As the year 2014 begins to unfold, I think that we should refrain from citing statistics about the costs of war in Iraq, because the numbers of dead and maimed keep escalating week after week, with thousands now dying every month. Furthermore, the U.S./Saudi/Israeli spillover proxy war in Syria continues to swell the horrific statistics into the unforeseeable future. In truth, no one can any longer know the real costs of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 because that former sovereign country has become — by design of the U.S. attackers — not just ungovernable, but practically uninhabitable. The Apartheid Zionist Entity wanted Iraq smashed and the the United States government did the job. Now on to Syria and Iran, if not the Ukraine and Africa. The chicken-hawk perpetrators of this U. S. war crime did not misunderstand the nature of war. They counted on it. “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it,” said Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. “Shock and Awe.” That kind of bloody bullshit.

        Meanwhile, recalling the application of the Shock Doctrine in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Naomi Klein reports:

        “Over at the shelter, Jamar could think of nothing else. “I really don’t see it as cleaning up the city. What I see is that a lot of people got killed uptown. People who shouldn’t have died.”

        “He was speaking quietly, but an older man in line in front of us overheard and whipped around. ‘What is wrong with these people in Baton Rouge? This isn’t an opportunity. It’s a goddamned tragedy. Are they blind?'”

        “A mother with two kids chimed in. ‘No, they’re not blind, they’re evil. They see just fine.'”

        The global corporate oligarchs — with the subsidiary U.S. government/private military doing the dirty work — see just fine, and they will profit from disaster abroad just as they will at home in America. And if they have to cause the disaster instead of just waiting around for it to occur naturally, then so much the better. The French like to say: “It was worse then a crime. It was a blunder.” In the United States, the opposite holds true.

  2. As for the neocon clown-car sock puppets in the U.S. government who front for the collective corporatist oligarchy and who launched the U.S. invasion of Iraq as part of a thirty-year crusade to privatize war and disaster as a means of removing all taxation from capital while eliminating the progressive income tax, I had a few thoughts in verse about all that — nine years ago. I’d write the same thing today about the current clown-car horror show of a U.S. government, but some of the relevant names might not fit the rhyme scheme. So Groundhog Day will just have to keep repeating itself — as written — to the tune of:

    Deputy Dubya’s Droopy Diaper Rap

    You fell asleep on watch and let some bad guys blow us up,
    And when you woke you swore to pay them back.
    You then attacked a country that had never done us harm
    Which seems to indicate it’s brains you lack.

    You needed made-up reasons that you thought the rubes would buy.
    You swore Saddam Hussein had done the crime.
    You had Ms. Rice warn darkly of some sprouting mushroom clouds
    In little less than forty minutes’ time.

    Dick Cheney spoke of spies who may have met one night in Prague
    Discussing who-knows-what? or when? or how?
    He claimed that all this nothing added up to something big
    That justified attacking Iraq now.

    Don Rumsfeld claimed to know just where to find those awful bombs.
    He said he knew exactly where they were.
    That none had ever come to light disturbed him not at all;
    For dreams, not facts, made better sales allure.

    And Colin Powell played along and told the world untruths
    In service to a man who oft betrays;
    And now no thinking person who resides on Planet Earth
    Believes a single word that this man says.

    Your CIA did what it does, whatever that might be;
    And spent more billions finding zilch to fear;
    But undeterred you pressed ahead until the spooks agreed
    To tell you everything you longed to hear.

    The Pet Press pundit sycophants fell quickly into line;
    For “access” they had sold their souls for free.
    You gave each one a nickname in return for which they swore
    To overlook your rank stupidity.

    The Congress went along and did precisely not one thing
    To cure us of our doubts about their worth.
    They swarmed aboard the lemming liner, “Gulf of Tonkin II,”
    And led us once again to rue their birth.

    So came the night of green-hued TV pictures from “The Front”
    With breathless claims of “Shock and Awe” profound
    That really only lulled and bored the viewers back at home
    Impressing no Iraqis on the ground.

    You and your team, of course, converged to watch the main event;
    To stomp and cheer each way-cool boom and bang.
    You had photographers snap pictures of you gettin’ down
    And doin’ that studly Texas hamster thang.

    With manhood issues unresolved, you pranced and leaped about
    With every adolescent urge fulfilled,
    You launched three dozen missiles at a Baghdad neighborhood
    Yet never cared to wonder whom you’d killed.

    And don’t you think that forty missiles seem a little much
    To cut the heads off three Iraqi men
    Who, anyway, were somewhere else when all the bombs arrived
    And not where you supposed them to have been?

    That word “decapitation” sounded swell not long ago
    But now only reminds us of your lies.
    Some folks have lost their heads, all right, just not the ones you planned;
    Just those who drive your trucks and cook your fries.

    So things have gone from only-bad to worse-than-that and more
    As GI coffins come home late at night;
    And billions run into the hundred-billions off the books
    Which makes those foreign lenders quake with fright.

    You started spouting Jesus jive because you think it sells
    Among religious folks who live in dread
    Of terrorist hijackers crashing into Red State barns
    And working people organized and led.

    To you, the Middle Ages sound like just the place to reign
    With hopeless people waiting for their doom
    Who every thousand years or so take off their clothes and climb
    Up on their roofs to wait for what? and whom?

    You learned to watch the NBA and do that high-five dance.
    You’ve learned your three-word mantras through and through.
    George Tenet taught you how to ‘slam-and-dunk’ and jockstrap-sniff
    But still you’ve never grown to more than you.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2005

  3. Didn’t Wolfowitz draw up the idea for the Iraq war in the 90s as a way to secure American hegemony after the fall of the USSR. If I recall ,he felt there were three regions or nations that posed a problem, one of which was I Iraq due to its oil and nuclear program.

  4. I’m not really sure why we should care about the way Maddow presented the topic. The real topic should be about why millions of Americans, conservatives in particular think that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. That’s a lot more important than denigrating Rachel. If conservatives knew the actual truth, often obfuscated by talking heads like Hannity and Levin, maybe they would be upset as well and not so willing to go to the next war. Maybe.

  5. Pingback: Why we went to Iraq twice: It really WAS for oil - Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

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