The Iraq War and its catastrophic consequences

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
The Iraq War and its catastrophic consequences
Sold to the public by Bush and Blair and their neocon allies in the media as a war that would make us safer, the illegal invasion of Iraq launched fourteen years ago this week did the exact opposite.

Toast the ouster of a cigar-smoking Sound of Music-loving secular dictator if you like, but the world (and not just the Middle East) was undoubtedly a far less dangerous place on March 19, 2003, than it is today.

A direct consequence of the war was the rise of the head-chopping death cult known as Islamic State, which grew out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

“Today Al-Qaeda-type movements rule a vast area in northern and western Iraq and eastern and northern Syria, several hundred times larger than any territory ever controlled by Osama bin Laden,” noted Patrick Cockburn in his 2014 book The Rise of Islamic State. He described ISIS as the “the child of war.”

We can see it as the offspring of the political marriage between the simian Texan cowboy George W. Bush and the smarmy and smooth-tongued Oxford-educated “liberal interventionist” Tony Blair.

A genuine ‘war on terror,' which the two men claimed to be fighting, would, as Cockburn points out, have meant a confrontation with states which fueled radical extremism, such as Saudi Arabia. But instead, Bush and Blair picked on a largely defenseless country that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks and whose Ba’athist government was actually a bulwark against religious fundamentalism.

Today, US planes are bombing Iraq once again, this time attempting to 'liberate’ Mosul from Islamic State forces that would not exist had the 2003 ‘liberation’ not taken place.

As opponents of the war, such as the neocon-reviled George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn had predicted, Iraq, post-invasion, became a magnet for hard-core jihadists who thrived in the vacuum that existed after the forcible toppling of the country’s secular government and the deliberate destruction of the Iraqi state apparatus. With bombs going off all around them as they tried to carry out their daily business, life for Iraqi people became a living hell with the carnage continuing to this day.

Indeed, as I am writing this article, a ‘Breaking News’ announcement appeared, reporting a car bomb has “killed 23 and injured dozens” in Baghdad. Only last month, 55 people died in another bombing in the Iraqi capital. Now here we are in 2017, the fourteenth year following the invasion, and already we have a new wave of deadly terror attacks. But, surprise, surprise, the ‘comment’ writers and opinion formers who urged war back in 2003 aren’t tweeting about any of this.
Those who were so keen to ‘free’ the Iraqi people in 2003 show no interest in the wretched plight of the same people today. They’ve got far more important things to do, like warning us of the threat of ‘Russian aggression’ and trying to get RT taken off air.

While it’s been ordinary Iraqis who have suffered the most, the invasion also helped bring terrorism to the once-safe streets of Europe. The blowback from Blair and Bush’s criminal enterprise has been enormous.

In Madrid in March 2004, 159 people were killed in the deadliest terrorist attack in Spain’s history, carried out by a local Al-Qaeda cell. The country’s hawkish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar had backed the aggression against Iraq, and Spanish train commuters paid the terrible price. A year later London was hit, with 52 people killed. One of the suicide bombers had recorded a video message in which he explicitly mentioned Iraq, while another had talked of "avenging" his "Muslim brothers and sisters."

In the past year and a half, we’ve seen IS, or IS-inspired attacks on civilians in Paris, Berlin, Brussels and on the French Riviera.

The flames from the Iraq inferno have also reached Africa, with a huge surge in Islamic terrorism in that continent made worse by the subsequent ‘humanitarian’ war to destroy Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, which was cheered on by the same crowd of manic ‘interventionists’ who gave us the bloodbath in Mesopotamia. Boko Haram is officially ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index, and has caused so much death and destruction in Nigeria, it is Al-Qaeda’s, and since 2015, the Islamic State’s West African franchise.

The Iraq war and its bloody aftermath, which engulfed neighboring Syria too, is also the main reason for the current refugee crisis. When the late Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy warned that the war would “cause a refugee crisis of huge proportions.”

He was ridiculed by know-it-all war supporters. But Kennedy was right. Some 2.6 million Iraqis were displaced by Islamic State advances in 2014/15. In April 2007 there were, according to UN figures, already 4 million Iraqi refugees around the world.

The migrant crisis has, in turn, contributed to the rise of neo-nationalist and far-right movements in Europe, which could lead to the collapse of the EU. Yet those responsible continue to blame others for the chaos they have unleashed.

Tony Blair was on the BBC again at the weekend, not to apologize for Iraq, but to urge Labour to consider a second referendum on Brexit! Meanwhile, one of the most bellicose supporters of the Iraq war in the fourth estate, Nick Cohen,
marked the invasion’s latest anniversary by delivering a foul-mouthed ’F-word’ tirade in the Observer newspaper, against supporters of the anti-war Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Fourteen years on from the Iraq war we're yet to see any real contrition from those who launched it and promoted it, or any acknowledgment of its disastrous consequences. Blair warns us about the emergence of a ‘frightening authoritarian populism,' and Bush gets liberal plaudits for his tacit criticism of Trump, but they, more than anyone else, destroyed people's faith in 'mainstream' politicians. The deadly duo and the neocon ‘pundits’ and ‘think-tankers’ who egged them on, not only set fire to the Middle East: they have put all our lives in danger.

Oh, and one final thing. Just imagine if Russia had done all of this.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.