‘No plan for after the invasion’: How an effort at rebuilding destroyed Iraq

Ten years since the start of the war in Iraq, many are questioning whether US efforts not only did little to alleviate suffering, but created the kind of stalemate that has set Iraq on course for an even greater catastrophe.

At least 134,000 Iraqi civilians are estimated to have died in the conflict, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, published on Sunday. And the overall number of casualties could be four times higher, researchers say.
Assistant Editor at Antiwar. Com, John Glaser, told RT of the broken promises made to the US public back home and to the people of Iraq. “What we can know for sure is the constant lies told by the Bush administration that the war would be over in a couple of months, it would be paid for with Iraqi oil, we would be greeted as liberators, there would not be the sort of civil war that eventually descended onto Iraq…they were all wrong, all of these predictions were wrong. And yet, these same types of neo-conservatives can go on television and on book tours and sit in their fancy homes and not feel embarrassed about how wrong they were.  Iraq is in chaos right now, flooded with sectarian tension and a dictatorship that the United States helped install.”

That is not to say that everyone thinks that removing Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial rule was a mistake. But the end of his tyranny brought about a democracy which was plagued by corruption and in-fighting, often among warring tribes, heavily armed. Since America’s withdrawal some of the failings of the operation have only been heightened, with deadly terrorist attacks continuing around the country; testament to this, a series of 10 blasts that shook the capital Baghdad, claiming nearly 60 lives and wounding over 200 people, right on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. The attacks bore a strong Al Qaeda signature, targeting mainly Shiite areas around the capital.

Michael O’Brien, who has authored a book entitled ‘America’s Failure in Iraq’, explained to RT the reason behind the surge in violence. “Not only was there no plan for after the invasion, but then Paul Brenner disbanded Iraq’s own security ministries: the Iraqi military and the Iraqi National Police, which is like an interior army. So, with no plan for after the invasion  for the US and Coalition forces…and the fact that Bremer disbanded Iraq’s own infrastructure for security, it is not at all coincidental that insurgency picked up around 2005-2006. So we are very much responsible for creating the insurgency that followed a war that was dubious in the first place.” Paul Bremer was the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, following the invasion in 2003.

The sums spent on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, are astronomical and still growing. Aid to Iraq itself leaves much to question, with billions of dollars spent on security and projects often failing to come to fruition. When questioned about the efficacy of US military spending in the conflict, Glaser said “the [figure] is truly immense, it’s too immense to grasp. The final cost of the war could be approaching somewhere about $ 6 trillion, according to a recent study by Brown university. That’s a number that nobody can really fathom. And we’re going to be paying for it for a long, long time.”

$212 billion was supposed to be spent on aid to the Iraqis themselves, but today their lives aren’t much better than during the sanctions imposed on them in 1990 by the UN, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Less than 40 percent of adults have a job, while a quarter of the country lives below the World Bank’s poverty line. Speaking of where the rebuilding funds went and whether they are doing any good, Director of the Institute of Public Accuracy, Norman Sullivan, said that only the ruling elite benefit: “It’s doing an elite good. Al Maliki and others who are running the government, they’re skimming off huge profit. But on the whole, there’s very little trickling down to the average Iraqi person.”

As to why the US left after failing to stabilize Iraq and losing treasure and lives in the process, those in the know have pointed to the lack of options left on the table. When questioned about the justification of the US effort there, Sullivan quoted Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower as saying “complete US withdrawal of military troops in Iraq is a terrible option. And all the other options are worse.”

And the Middle East doesn’t appear to be quieting down after US withdrawal from Iraq and its protracted confrontation with extremists in Afghanistan, as well as the threat of other countries destroying each other in the region. John Glaser does not feel the US has learned any lessons in the 10 years since the start of the Iraq war. “It can be argued that the Obama administration is weary of getting involved in another military quagmire in the Middle East, because of what happened in Iraq. So, instead they focus on making the entire globe a war zone, so they can drone anywhere they want. So, there are new complications and new problems. But the fundamental lesson – about how wrong American Empire is – has not been learned. “