Dahr Jamail interviews three experts on Iraq: The emphasis is mine
A dozen years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, that country, now effectively another Middle East failed state, remains a bloody, chaotic symbol of the failed US imperial project.
Margaret Griffis, a journalist who has been covering casualty numbers in Iraq since 2006 for Antiwar.com, has published these recent headlines that give one an idea of how life is in today’s Iraq:
“Mass Executions Terrorize Mosul; 141 Killed in Iraq”
“132 Killed across Iraq as Airstrikes Continue”
“At Least 4,693 Killed across Iraq in July”
“154 Killed in Iraq, including Dozens of Displaced Children”
“Mass Grave Unearthed in Mosul; 194 Killed across Iraq”
Those are only the articles published by Griffis since July 30.
The casualties are acute and ongoing, yet most people in the US, the very country that generated this hellish situation, are willfully ignorant of the situation caused by their government.
Truthout reached out to three expert analysts who provided their perspective on why the war was waged, what the goal of the occupation has been, and which proposed solutions are the most promising.
Economic and Military Hegemony
My first interviewee was Dr. Anas Altikriti, an Iraqi man who is the CEO of the Cordoba Foundation in London, a group that seeks to counter the narrative that global conflicts on religious and political issues are “proof of an inevitable clash between the West and the Muslim world.”
Altikriti, who has a PhD in Political Studies from Westminster University in London and organized and chaired the historic march of two million people in London against the war on Iraq, believes the purpose of the invasion and occupation was threefold.
“It’s not a secret that the pillars of US interests in the region are oil, Israel, stopping any potential attack on US and its direct interests (AKA ‘fighting terrorism’) and preventing the development of new nuclear weapon capabilities,” he told Truthout. “As such, US interests in Iraq are multifaceted, especially if we took into consideration that Iraq was designed to be the lynchpin in the US strategy for the entire region.”
Altikriti believes the US goals also included securing energy sources and pipelines, constructing a number of significant military bases throughout the Middle East and North Africa, creating a buffer zone that impedes Russian and Chinese expansion commercially, but also politically and militarily, across the Caspian Sea, and administering the rise of new regional players that allow for the reshaping of the entire region, which will pave the way for the post Sykes-Picot era.
My second interviewee, Paul Craig Roberts, is an economist who served as the assistant secretary of the treasury under Ronald Reagan and former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Business Week.
Like Altikriti, he also believes the invasion of Iraq served multiple purposes.
“It put into action the neocon plan of establishing Washington’s hegemony over the Middle East, thus enshrining the neoconservative ideology in US foreign and military policy,” Roberts told Truthout. “The invasion served Israel by removing a constraint on Israel’s freedom of action. The invasion served the power and profit of the military/security complex.”
Roberts thinks the arms industry needed an enemy threat with which to justify exorbitant defense spending for another decade; the so-called terrorist threat produced said “enemy,” and that enemy was, as Roberts put it, “valuable to the security complex which seized upon it to give the US a police state that dismantled the US Constitution. Little doubt other powerful interests benefitted or expected to, such as the oil companies.”
My third interviewee, Ray McGovern, was a CIA analyst for 27 years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
A longtime outspoken critic of the invasion of Iraq and US foreign policy over the last decades, McGovern was also quite frank about his assessment as to why the invasion of Iraq was launched.
“In my view the purpose/goal was/is conveyed by the acronym OIL: O for oil, I for Israel and L for logistics (i.e. the permanent military bases the US coveted in Iraq, knowing bases were not a good idea anymore in Saudi Arabia,)” McGovern told Truthout. “I believe that those who hold strongly that the purpose/goal must have been one or two of these to the exclusion of others are not reflecting the real world. In my view it was all three.”
Waging War for Israel
All three analysts did not shy away from sharing their thoughts about how strong of an influence the Israeli government and lobby groups in the US have over US policy, particularly toward Iraq.
Roberts explained that many of the neocons “have financial connections to Israel and to Zionists who support Israel. The strength of Israel is apparent.”
Roberts believes that that strength is forceful enough that whenever Israel wants an American UN veto or a Congressional Resolution to defend Israel, Israel gets it.
“Remember recently, the Republican Congress invited the Israeli PM to come to Washington and tell them in a speech before Congress how to block Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran,” he added for emphasis. “Remember that Washington sent new money and arms to Israel to replace those used up in Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Apparently Obama is sending new weapons systems to Israel to compensate Israel for the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Altikriti, who is also a hostage negotiator, had a similar analysis.
“Israel is the main counsel for the US when it comes to Middle Eastern policy,” he said. “Indeed, the narrative of the White House, whoever sits as president, is continuously a close enough reflection of Tel Aviv’s briefing papers to Washington.”
Altikriti believes that Israel holds enough power over US policy that literally every position regarding the Middle East that is taken by the US Congress has to pass what he called the “Israel-OK test” and any new proposal must be shared with pro-Israel “experts,” who then pass judgment on whether it should be allowed to progress or not.
“The invasion and occupation of Iraq was undoubtedly an Israeli-stamped-and-approved venture, and the fingerprints of Israeli operatives were all over numerous chapters of the ‘Iraq strategy,’ particularly pertaining to the Kurdish issue,” he explained. “On the few occasions where the US seems to disagree with Israel, it’s clear that there is no contradiction, but a disagreement either on tactical aspects or a disagreement on the heft and magnitude of approach, but almost never on the fundamentals of the issue at hand.”
McGovern agreed and reminded us of how current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu testified before the US House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on September 12, 2002, a month that was critical for decisions about invading Iraq, and said, “If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”
“Anytime Israel can get US forces committed in or near the Near [Middle] East, that is icing on the cake,” McGovern said. “There is no difference between the policies of Israel and the US in the Near East, where clearly Israel takes the lead.”