Orientierung kommt von Orient: 20. Jahrestag des Irakkriegs und dessen Folgen

19 Mar 2023 7:17 p.m

During the night of March 19-20, the US Air Force began bombing Baghdad. The EU and NATO were deeply divided. The new NATO members from Central and Eastern Europe were for the war, Paris and Berlin opposed it. At that time, Moscow and Beijing not only began their economic but also diplomatic cooperation.

By Karin Kneissl

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the attack on Iraq by the US and its allies

Viewed in the rearview mirror of history, current events acquire clear contours, since the overall picture is revealed in all its effects. Little or a lot can happen in twenty years. Between March 2003 and these March days in 2023 developments have set in that have brought disasters to millions of people in the Middle East. The destruction of Iraq, the dissolution of the army by the first “US Consul” Paul Bremer in May 2023 and the flow of refugees to neighboring countries such as Syria and Jordan with the subsequent terrorist attacks are among the consequences of the war.

The new means of propaganda

The flimsy reasons for the war, such as a non-existent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Baghdad’s alleged role in Islamist terrorism, were widely written about a year later. As of spring 2004, there was already evidence of all the lies that had been lied to – whether by the International Atomic Energy Agency or thanks to research such as that by US publicist Seymour Hersh.

Rarely before have disinformation campaigns and all that has been referred to as “fake news” since the administration of Donald Trump have been so meticulously put into motion. Various think tanks swarmed out their experts who campaigned for “regime change and democracy” in Iraq. Those who argued against it were anti-Israeli, anti-American, and so on.

I was one of those who talked my mouth off in debates and lectures, whether on TV or at universities, to take a stand against this war. But the war machine of the US and its allies, whether British Prime Minister Tony Blair or then Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, had started working long before that. A link to Baghdad was already established with the September 11 attacks, although there was no connection between Saddam Hussein’s government and the assassins. As a reminder, not a single Iraqi or Afghan national was among the terrorists who piloted the planes. Most of them were Saudi nationals.

“The unfinished business” and the Bush family

However, as early as autumn 2001, the war scenarios for an invasion of Iraq and a change of regime were replayed in Washington. At Johns Hopkins University, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, in his former capacity as dean, had done the same thing in international policy seminars. Wolfowitz’s working hypothesis was that, as a result of the liberalization of its oil industry, Iraq would finance post-war reconstruction out of its own pocket, i.e. from oil exports.

Zambian politician settles accounts with USA: "Democracy has become a weapon of mass destruction"

The group around Vice President Dick Cheney, who, along with Wolfowitz, also included his superior Donald Rumsfeld, were undoubtedly the main whisperers for US President George W. Bush. Unlike his father, George H. Bush, who as a longtime CIA director was an accomplished analyst, the relatively inexperienced president did not have a clear personal line. But he still had a position on Iraq, albeit less reflected than an old reflex. It was about bringing the so-called “unfinished business” of the Iraq war from the beginning of 1991 to an end.

The 1991 US-led war coalition operated on the basis of a UN Security Council resolution. It was not a question of war in the sense of international law, but was a measure against a state provided for by the UNO statute. Only the then Jordanian King Hussein had backed Saddam Hussein, all the others supported the war against Baghdad. The US government had clearly adhered to the UN resolution, which was only about restoring Kuwait’s territorial integrity and not about overthrowing the Baghdad government.

Instead, the focus was on the Kurds in the north of the country and encouraged them to revolt against Baghdad. The rebellion was crushed by the Iraqi army, as was an uprising in the Shiite-dominated south of the country. Perhaps the rebels had expected more concrete military aid from the United States. The bottom line was that long-term ruler Hussein was firmly in the saddle despite the military defeat.

From the US point of view it had failed and within the Bush family there was talk of “unfinished business”. With the invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush had the opportunity, which may have played a psychological role, to step out of the shadow of his powerful father and bring about a regime change. In any case, in conversations with US officials, I always had the impression that an obsession with Iraq had spread since 9/11, which would culminate in an attack.

How Colin Powell taught the US to get away with any lie

The UN Security Council in turmoil

In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, positions within the UN Security Council clashed sharply. While US Secretary of State Colin Powell advertised the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq with a questionable PowerPoint presentation, the foreign ministers of Germany and France opposed an attack, some to applause in the Council.

At the same time, China and Russia, both of which were vehemently opposed to war, especially as they also pursued oil interests in Iraq, began to coordinate decisions. In a way, the close cooperation between Moscow and Beijing began in a coordinated multilateral approach. It was clear to both governments that war would open Pandora’s box and the collapse of Iraq’s institutions would lead to regional anarchy.

That’s how it should be. Years of weekly attacks followed, the rise of the Islamic State in 2014 and the many conflicts within Iraq. Anyone with a little knowledge of the situation in the country knew about the catastrophe that was looming when the war began on March 20, 2003.

China and Russia on their way to a new world order

When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow on March 20 for a three-day state visit, it will not only be about bilateral energy relations, which have been pursued systematically since 2004. As with their joint declaration in Beijing in February 2022, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping want to coordinate their foreign policy and advance it together. It is to be expected that the Ukraine dossier will also be discussed here, but it is probably overestimated by the media expectations in the West.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping publish articles on the state of bilateral relations

It may be purely coincidental that this very date was chosen, namely the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. But looking back over the past two decades, this coincidence shows why and how intensively Russian and Chinese strategies have become intertwined. The good personal chemistry between the two presidents also helps.

A play on words that I like to use again and again and that fits perfectly in this context is: Orientation comes from the Orient. Beijing and Moscow know how to share their view of the East. Twenty years after the US invasion of Iraq and millions of dead and displaced people, China and Russia want to systematically advance their view of the world once again. In addition to all the misery, the Iraq war also had concrete analytical consequences.

more on the subject20th Anniversary of the US Invasion of Iraq: Is the West Reasserting Its Presence in the Middle East?

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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