Five years ago the USA, Britain and various wretched bribed ‘allies' invaded Saddam's Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a monster - but imperialism knew that when it backed him in his aggressive war against Iran and supplied the chemicals for him to gas Iraqi Kurds. The invasion was justified by the lie that Saddam had ‘weapons of mass destruction.' He didn't.
We saw weapons of mass destruction, all right. In ‘Operation Shock and Awe', we saw on our television screens missiles and bombs that could destroy whole streets in Baghdad. Was this precision targeting of terrorist targets? No, it was indiscriminate mass murder of Iraqi civilians.
How many have been killed?
The website Just Foreign Policy pulls the evidence together. The most authoritative body count to July 2006 was provided by the British medical journal, the Lancet. They worked out that more than 600,000 violent Iraqi deaths had occurred in the first three years of invasion and occupation. These figures have been sniped at. But the apologists for invasion would be on stronger ground if they hadn't shown such contempt for the lives of mere Iraqis that they couldn't be bothered to compile their own figures.
Pollsters Opinion Business Research has kept up the grim work since then, counting the bodies week by week. By September 2007 they confirm 1.2 million dead.
What did it cost?
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes have written a book The Three Trillion Dollar War. The costs are painstakingly compiled by these two competent economists. One of these three trillion dollars could have paid for:
- 8 million houses, or
- 15 million teachers, or
- Healthcare for 530 million children for a year, or
- University scholarships for 43 million students.
The figures are a graphic illustration of capitalism's preference for spending money on doing evil rather than good.
Why has it cost so much?
This is the first war to be privatised. A private security guard in Iraq gets $400,000 a year. A soldier is paid $40,000. The aftermath of the invasion has seen an orgy of looting by big business, specifically a handful of firms such as Bechtel, Blackwater Security and Halliburton corruptly close to the Republican administration in Washington. See our review of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine Review of "Disaster capitalism" by Naomi Klein - Capitalism is a disaster for more detail. Then, of course, there's the grab for Iraq's oil - 112bn barrels, the second largest proven reserve in the world.
British and American citizens have been shamed by photos of torture in Iraq, torture carried out by ‘our boys' and torture now officially sanctioned by George W. Bush. In any case the startling nature of pictures of sexual humiliation and the use of savage dogs on naked prisoners makes it quite clear that these methods were not initiated independently by low level sadists. Responsibility goes right to the top - Bush, Blair and Brown.
What has been achieved?
To pay for the deaths and the pillage, the allies claimed they would root out the Taliban from Iraq. That was another lie. The Taliban weren't in Iraq. They are now, exploiting the chaos of invasion.
Tacitus made a devastating critique of Roman imperialism: solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant - they make a desert and call it peace. That is certainly true of the occupation of Iraq.