Operation Iraqi Liberation
The invasion of Iraq on the 20th of March 2003 has proved to be one of the most controversial wars of the modern era. From square one it seemed obvious to most critics that the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ had dubious intentions for their invasion. In the following article I will challenge some of the invaders specified reasons for the invasion, hopefully leaving the reader with a more expansive perspective concerning the war’s true causes. I will primarily focus on oil, and how it lured America to invade Iraq.
The three major reasons given by the United States for the controversial invasion were; Iraq’s alleged possession of ‘weapons of mass destruction’; their supposed harbouring and funding for terrorist organisations; and finally the credence that the Iraqi people must be liberated from Saddam Hussein’s despotic rule. Despite the lack of evidence, and lack of support from the United Nations Security council, the ‘liberators of Iraq’ got to work.
In October 2002, a CIA report stated “Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction program in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions”. Although it is extremely difficult for anyone to definitively disprove this premise, logic would dictate that such weapons would have been used well before the fall of a fanatical leaders regime. Historian Jeremy Jones, argues that the true reasons for invasion were more likely to be concerned with “oil, global hegemony (and) civilizational antagonism”. Do these sound like the intentions of heroic liberators? Such a view directly contradicts with the Coalition’s liberalist notions of liberation and freedom which they attributed to the ‘humanitarian’ intervention. In reality it seems that this liberal philosophy was merely a justification for true realist motives of self-interest. After all, this is the same dictator who merely a couple of decades prior, was supported by the American government against Iran, despite the known use of chemical weapons against his own Kurdish people, conveying the opportunistic nature of the American administration. It doesn’t bode well for the legitimacy of the most recent invasion.
It is without doubt that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator, and as said above, committed many atrocities against even his own people. Out of every reason given by the Americans, the need to remove Saddam and bring democracy to Iraq seemed the most tangible, or perhaps the hardest to disprove. But time would tell that his removal would merely lead to further instability, verging on a civil war. The power vacuum left by Hussein’s removal has created a struggle between Iraq’s Sunni and Shi’a factions, seen by almost daily attacks on one another. Although it’s extremely difficult for anyone to be opposed to an undeniably evil mans removal from power, the swift transition to democracy was certainly rushed, and so far hasn’t worked in favour of the Iraqi people.
Ironically, the invasion of Iraq began under the codename ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’, the acronym for oil. Most critics of the Iraq war claim that the real purpose of the invasion was to improve western access to Iraqi oil. When Hussein was in power, he plain out refused to deal with any western oil corporations. Most of the world’s second largest oil supplier’s lucrative contracts were signed down to either Chinese or Russian companies. The mere thought of this concept would surely have enraged any patriotic American. After being ‘liberated’, the newly formed government of Iraq (commonly accepted as a puppet government for the occupation), chose the moralistic thing to do, and tore up all oil contracts which were signed under the previous dictators regime. Sure this seems like a perfectly normal thing to do in order to de-legitimise Hussein’s rule doesn’t it? But conveniently, these contracts which off limits to Westerners for the last few decades, were snapped up by British and American companies including Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil. If this does not seem like creditable evidence implying that oil was a major factor in the reason to invade, surely Dick Cheney’s speech to the London Institute of Petroleum in 1999 would sway any doubters. “By 2010 we will need in the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from…while many regions in the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East, with two thirds of the World’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies”. For the record, Cheney was Vice President at the time of invasion, used to own an energy company which made lucrative profits directly from the invasion, and was arguably the ‘king pin’ in the push for war.
In addition to Iraq’s oil supplies, there have been numerous other reasons that critics attribute to America’s decision to invade. These include the Israel lobby’s influence over American politics and also the continuation of Bush Junior’s father’s legacy. Although much is speculation, one cannot deny that the war’s true intentions were remote from those that were specified.