THE IRAQ WAR READER A History of War Crimes and Genocide

 The Unleashing of America’s New Global Militarism

Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham (Editors)

I-Book No. 5, May 2012


The adage that “it is the victors who write history” in matters relating particularly to war and conflict is something of a euphemism when applied to recent military campaigns conducted by America and its NATO allies. For what is disputable – no, let us say repugnant – about the official accounts of these events is not merely a difference in emphasis or nuance on the matter, which the adage may infer. It is rather that the victors’ version of history is a wholesale fabrication, an obscene travesty of actual events. It is not a case of victors writing history, more one of victors “violating history”.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and what is unfolding covertly in Syria and Iran stand out as egregious examples of how the dominant Western powers are not just writing history with a certain self-reflecting vainglorious bias. They are instead concocting events in such a way as to completely distort the facts of history. It is fair to say that in many ways what is taking place is an inversion of realities and language. 

“Peace-keeping” really means “war-making”; “protecting human rights” really means “bombing civilian centers”; “upholding international law” really means “committing crimes against humanity”.  Accusations of “tyrants”, “miscreants”, “rogues” and “renegades” are hurled likes bricks in a glasshouse by perpetrators who arrogate the privilege to call themselves “civilized, democratic, law-abiding governments”. What needs to be contested, therefore, is not some kind of half-baked history, pitted here and there with flaws and hubris, but rather what needs to be challenged is out-and-out willful propaganda purporting as history.

In this new Interactive Book No 5, Iraq: A History of War Crimes and Genocide, we show how the policy of successive US governments and their Western allies towards Iraq illustrates this grand criminal deception; we also show how such unaccounted-for gargantuan crimes against humanity have not just decimated the social conditions for millions of Iraqis, but have also poisoned international law and are having far-reaching impacts on the democratic rights of citizens globally.  We contend that it is not just imperative to bring Western political and military leaders to account through legal prosecutions for the purpose of restitution for the people of Iraq; it is imperative that we do so for the sake of ending an ongoing global war agenda conducted by these same Western powers, and for the restitution of democratic rights for all citizens in all countries. 

The devastation of Iraq and the unfettered aggression by Western capitalist powers towards other countries is very much an integral part of the unfolding devastation of social conditions in North America and Europe under the diktat of a class war by a global elite. Understanding what really happened in Iraq, and why, is a vital part of understanding how and why the mass of people need to fight for democracy in the US, Europe and elsewhere. These far-reaching issues including an examination of the evolving Orwellian Police State apparatus in Western countries will be the object of a separate forthcoming I-Book.

Concealing Genocide As War

Take the most basic of words used in common parlance with reference to modern Iraq – the “Iraq War”. The word “war” normally refers to combat between two comparable adversaries contesting over competing claims. But in the case of Iraq that country was invaded without provocation on the basis of knowingly falsified allegations by an overwhelmingly superior military machine  – a multiple war crime. The “shock and awe” aerial bombardment that proceeded against a civilian population is another multiple war crime. The US-led NATO military campaign from 2003 until 2012 in which at least 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians, men, women and children, were killed compared with 4,500 US troops cannot be referred to in any meaningful way as a “war”. To do so is to employ an obscene Orwellian euphemism to describe what really happened – that is, genocide.

However, search the annals of Western mainstream media and no such simple truths can be found. Reams of newspaper copy and video footage refer endlessly to the Iraq War and they reiterate, with gullible respect, the disingenuous premises pronounced by Western governments and military, thus giving the whole nefarious enterprise a veneer of legitimacy and credibility. At the furthest range of criticism in such media, we might read about how the “Iraq War” was “misplaced”, a “waste” or a “tragedy”. But we will not read that it was genocide perpetrated by war criminals in Washington, London or other Western capitals based on conscious lies and willful fabrications. Truth is censored.

In this new Interactive Book we draw on Global Research’s extensive archive to give an accurate account of the origins of the invasion and genocidal occupation. The US-led criminal aggression towards Iraq involves four US presidents: George Herbert Walker Bush Senior, William Jefferson Clinton, George W Bush Junior and Barack Hussein Obama over more than two decades. We examine how a once-staunch Western client state became an object for obliteration.

The latter phase of American aggression conducted during more than nine years of US-led NATO occupation involved the most heinous crimes against humanity in a no-holds-barred effort to crush an ancient civilization. This Interactive Book looks at the aftermath of such barbarity and lawlessness, not just for Iraqis and ordinary Americans, but for the Middle East region and beyond.

Our bias is to expose official Western claims and accounts of what happened in Iraq, how and why, with uncompromising criticism. Our bias is to record the experiences and suffering of people in the real world, not what governments and military officials purport to have taken place. We are confident that our analysis presents the real story of Iraq, not only what happened and why, but its far-reaching wider significance for international relations. Today’s increasingly militarist foreign policy of the US, its NATO allies and proxy states across the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa can be traced to the awful precedent that is Iraq.

Australian author and media commentator John Pilger once noted that journalists could be thought of as being tasked with writing the “first draft of history”. Their reports and analyses of events will one day provide research material for historians. This has rather disturbing implications for future retrospective historical accounts of Iraq. That is because the prominent newspapers of North America and Europe and other mainstream media have, by and large, amply recorded verbatim the official narratives on Iraq that emanate from their governments. In other words, when future historians of modern Iraq draw on the archives in the likes of The New York Times, The Financial Times and Le Monde, they will be drawing on a first draft of history that is falsified, propagandized, and indeed calumnious.

Fortunately, the burgeoning of independent media over the past decade has afforded an alternative account of history on Iraq, versions that arguably accord more accurately with actual events. We at Global Research proudly present this volume of wide-ranging articles on Iraq as an antidote of truth to the “victors’ history”.

Structure of this I-Book

The Iraq War Reader is the fifth in a new series of Interactive Books from Global Research. In Iraq: A History of War Crimes and Genocide, we have selected over 60 articles from hundreds in our 10-year-old archive that cover the background, prosecution and aftermath of the US-led aggression in Iraq. We have also included a review of key intelligence and policy documents, estimates of mortality resulting from the US led occupation (Lancet Report), key videos, photographic evidence and scientific reports pertaining to war crimes. 

The book is structured in Ten Parts, these together with highlighted chapters include an analysis of the historical background of the 1991 Gulf War, the atrocities committed during the “sanctions regime” (1991-2003), the extensive crimes committed against the Iraqi people during nine years of military occupation. The latter include the carpet bombing of urban areas, the planned devastation of the Iraqi economy including the confiscation of the country’s extensive oil reserves, the programmed demise of State institutions including public health and education, the targeted and systematic assassination of the country’s scientists, engineers and intellectuals, the ruin of Iraq’s research and academic institutions, the pillage and theft of Iraq’s archeological heritage.

The unspoken agenda was to destroy Iraq as a Nation State, establish a US proxy regime and, quite deliberately, impoverish the people of Iraq under the banner of “democratization” and “post-war reconstruction”. 

The book also addresses the Pentagon’s propaganda campaign, its various PR Psy Ops, which portray Iraq, in the eyes of Western public opinion, as an outright evil “rogue state” supportive of Osama bin Laden, the bogeyman and alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.

Fiction become Truth. “Evil folks are lurking”. Al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden is supported by Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. Iraq is portrayed as a “State sponsor of terrorism“.  WMD and Al Qaeda related concepts and images are routinely funnelled into the Western news chain and on network TV, with a view to affecting the human mindset of millions of people.

War becomes peace. the threat of WMD by the avowed enemies of the Western World, repeated ad nauseam, is intended to create confusion, namely to prevent people from comprehending the “real outside World” of war, politics and the economic crisis.

This Iraq War Reader also reveals the sinister machinations of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s inner political circle to churn out fake yet “reliable” intelligence documents on Iraq’s WMD program.

These fake intelligence dossiers are then candidly presented by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN Security Council (February 2003) as a means to acquiring the UN “green light” for an invasion of Iraq.

Part I  is entitled Historical Background: Regional Hegemony and The Battle for Oil. As brought out in Felicity Arbuthnot’s essay, the systematic campaign of US-NATO aggression towards Iraq involved the participation of no less than four White House oresidents and five British prime ministers over a 21-year span. In a wide-ranging historical essay, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya shows how the conquest of Iraq was a key part of a long-term roadmap for Washington’s hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East region.

Professor Eric Waddell’s 2002 geopolitical essay brings to the forefront the “real intent” of the US led war on Iraq, namely the Battle for Oil.  According to Waddell: “What is ultimately at stake in Iraq is the intention on the part of the U.S. and its indefectible British ally to establish control over one of the world’s largest, cheapest and most easily accessible oil reserves.”  

© Map by Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil, Global Research, 2003.  (click map to enlarge)

The Structure of the US and Coalition Military Occupation

Part II: Atrocities of the Gulf War and the Sanctions Regime (1991-2003) includes two important essays, Joyce Chediac’s analysis of the Massacre of Withdrawing Iraqi Soldiers on “The Highway of Death” and Professor Thomas Nagy’s award winning 2002 investigation on how the US deliberately destroyed Iraq’s Water Supply. Confirmed by documents of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), “the U.S. government intentionally used sanctions against Iraq to degrade the country’s water supply after the Gulf War. The United States knew the cost that civilian Iraqis, mostly children, would pay, and it went ahead anyway.”

Part III on The Pretext to Wage War brings forth the issue of the fake intelligence documents used to justify the invasion, with contributions by professors Michel Chossudovsky and Glen Rangwala.

Part IV From “Shock and Awe” to Occupation and  Resistance focusses on the contours of what author Chris Floyd calls The Anglo-American Dirty War

Part V on the Role of the United Nations includes the contribution of former Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, focussing on how the United Nations, in the wake of the invasion, paid lip service to the illegal occupation of Iraq in blatant violation of the United Nations Charter.

Part VI, with contributions by Michel Chossudovsky, Max Fuller and Ghali Hassan, focusses on the heinous legacy of the clandestine unleashing of sectarian death squads by America and Britain on the populace, which served to divide and rule and also to justify the illegal occupation of a sovereign country.

Modelled on US covert ops in Central America, the Pentagon’s “Salvador Option for Iraq” was carried out under the helm of the US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte (2004-2005), who had served as US ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980s.

This “terrorist model” of mass killings by US sponsored death squads had been applied in El Salvador, in the heyday of resistance against the military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths. The “Salvador Option in Iraq” consisted in the use of death squads “to fight against the rebels”, namely the Iraqi resistance.

In 2011, “The Salvador Option: was applied in Syria. The US Ambassador to Syria (appointed in January 2011), Robert Stephen Ford was part of Negroponte’s team at the US Embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005).

Civilian casualties in Iraq were triggered by daily terrorist attacks and suicide bombings of a sectarian nature. The media in chorus presented  “Al Qaeda in Iraq” headed by (the late) Abu Musab Al Zarqawi as responsible for the suicide bombings, without acknowledging that Al Qaeda was a creation of the US intelligence apparatus. In Iraq, Al Zarqawi was described as the bogeyman, intent upon “igniting a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites”. But is that not precisely what US intelligence was aiming at ( “divide and rule”) as confirmed by several analysts of the US led war? Pitting one group against the other with a view to weakening and destroying the resistance movement.

Moreover, the evidence confirms that US and allied special forces, including British SAS (disguised as “Arab terrorists”) were directly involved in the staging of the terror events. (See British “Undercover Soldiers” Caught driving Booby Trapped Car “They refused to say what their mission was.” – by Michel Chossudovsky ) 

John Negroponte, architect of “the Salvador Option in Iraq”, US Ambassador to Iraq (2004-2005)

US–sponsored death squads carrying out their brutal work in El Salvador

Al Zarqawi, alleged Al Qaeda in Iraq Leader, US “intelligence asset” 

Part VII of the Iraq War Reader exposes the complicity of the Western mainstream media in covering up the appalling onslaught of violence against the Iraqi people, from the initial carpet bombing of the country through the following nine years of murderous occupation.

Part VIII entitled War Crimes: The Evidence provides an detailed dossier of evidence and analysis of crimes against humanity including the testimonies of key witnesses and victims of US sponsored war crimes.

This body of evidence and opinion, as outlined by Professor Francis Boyle, Prosecutor in The Kuala War Crimes Tribunal, makes the case that past and present American and British political leaders are liable to stand trial for war crimes in Iraq.

From the outset to its ongoing repercussions, this was a war of aggression comparable to Nuremburg standards. And political and military chiefs should be held accountable as a matter of legal and moral principle. The detailed research of Dirk Adriaensens and Bie Kentane of the BRussells Tribunal, Dahr Jamail, Abdu Rahman, Professor Alfred McCoy, Tom Burghardt, the sworn testimony of Professor Ali Shalal, “The Man Behind the Hood” tortured at Abu Ghraib prison, provide ample evidence of the extensive war crimes committed in the name of the “international Community” by president George W. Bush and his indefectible British cohort, Prime Minister Anthony Blair

Theology Professor Ali Shalal, “The Man behind the Hood” 

Finian Cunningham recalls one of many war crimes, the Haditha massacre in 2005 in which 24 civilians, including women and children, were slaughtered in cold blood by US troops. Not one of the soldiers or their commanders involved in this barbaric crime was convicted, as with countless other such crimes in Iraq and elsewhere. Yet in the same week that the Haditha massacre trial in the US closed without a single conviction, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama had only glowing praise for the heroism of American troops in Iraq in his 2012 State of the Union address. 

The extensive dossier on war crimes in Part VIII also includes the results of the Lancet Study on post-invasion mortality, the essay by Professor Souad N. Al-Azzawi on depleted uranium contamination. Several important videos in Global Research’s archives can also be consulted including the controversial Cockpit Video on the Strafing of Civilians in Fallujah. 

Part IX entitled The Criminalization of War. Prosecuting the War Criminals includes essays by Richard Falk, Francis Boyle and Finian Cunningham as well as video interviews with Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Gurdial Ninjar Singh, Denis Halliday and Michel Chossudovsky.  

In Part X entitled The Aftermath: The Destruction of Iraqi Society, Felicity Arbuthnot, Hugh Gusterson, Jack A. Smith and former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans von Sponeck provide the reader a harrowing glimpse of the scale of destruction in Iraq by the US, Britain and other NATO powers.

An ancient civilization with its proud traditions in education and culture has been bombed and brutalized with irreparable losses. What we need to understand urgently is that the barbarism inflicted on Iraq continues to be unleashed by the US-led powers in their ongoing campaign of permanent war for global dominance. As Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya points out in cogent analyses: the US has rewritten the constitution of vanquished nations including Iraq and Afghanistan as part of  Washington’s empire-building project.

Unleashing America’s Global Conquest

Crucial to understanding the full impact of the US-led war of aggression on Iraq is the concomitant erosion of civil liberties in America and Europe. The crimes committed in Iraq have ironically served to amplify the spurious “war on terror”. This has in turn rebounded in multiple insidious ways to increase state security powers against citizens and to justify the creation of virtual police states that can spy, detain and assassinate citizens on the basis of secret executive orders. The war on Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the massive expansion in state powers for surveillance against citizens and anti-war protesters in particular, with far-reaching implications for democracy. Incipient fascism has now become the de facto form of government in supposed Western democracies.  The criminalization of resistance in Iraq to illegal occupation goes hand-in-glove with the criminalization of resistance in the US and Europe to war-making.

When US President Barack Obama made an electioneering visit to Afghanistan in May 2012, he declared with typical purple prose: “This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end… We have travelled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. In the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.”

Obama asserted: “The Iraq War is over… We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan”. In this way, the US Commander-in-Chief was stealthily taking credit for ending “a decade of war” as if he had fulfilled in good order his 2008 presidential campaign promises to end America’s foreign wars. He went on to mendaciously conflate these military campaigns as parts of a noble agenda of “War on Terror”.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For a start, the presumptive “peace president” had cynically reneged on pledges to the war-sickened American electorate to promptly withdraw troops upon his election. Obama has in office overseen a dramatic escalation in the American ruling class’s militarism at home and abroad, as well as arrogating executive powers to spy, detain and assassinate citizens and non-citizens alike solely on his command and secret information.

The long-delayed dates marking official troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan belie the fact that both countries will continue to host thousands of American military, Special Forces, secret service agents and private mercenaries for many years to come. 

Merely declaring a “war over” does not mean that it is over. Iraq is all too painfully a case in point. The bulk of the US military forces may have departed from Iraq in December 2011, but in terms of daily violence, deprivation, suffering and trauma, the people of Iraq are still very much wracked by foreign aggression. After nine years of occupation, Iraq is not “sovereign, stable and self-reliant” – as Obama claimed on the eve of troop withdrawal.

Daily bombings and shootings claiming hundreds of lives every month mark a country that is riven with bitter sectarian conflicts – conflicts that were cynically inflamed by the NATO occupying forces as a means of subduing the resistance to an illegal occupation. Simmering hostilities between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish provinces threaten to explode into all-out civil war and fragmentation of Iraq.

Infrastructure and basic utilities have been destroyed by years of NATO aerial bombardment and previous years of crippling economic sanctions. Millions of families remain homeless and displaced. One in three Iraqi children have been made orphans. Unemployment, poverty and malnutrition are rampant.

The same prognosis of violence and misery can be made for Libya and Afghanistan when US-led NATO forces are due to withdraw from the latter country in 2014 – bequeathing again a shadow army of militias, military trainers, contractors and Special Forces amid a country reduced to rumble.

A Harbinger of Wars of Aggression Without End

What we are witnessing is not presumed episodic war, with a discrete beginning and end, for some noble purpose, as claimed. But rather, we are witnessing the violent conquest of sovereign countries by Washington and its Western allies, the installation of pliable corrupt regimes that serve Western interests, and the ongoing low-level military occupation of these countries to ensure subjugated status. Iraq is a harbinger of the new militarism – wars of aggression without end in which devastation in targeted countries becomes the status quo. The same nefarious process can be seen for Afghanistan, Libya and any other country – currently Syria and Iran – that befalls the imperialist attentions of the US-led Western powers. 

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