A response to “Why did America invade Iraq?”: It’s imperialism

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This OP-ED is in response to an OP-ED published by The Baron on October 5, 2023 “Why did America invade Iraq?”.

It’s imperialism, love Ridhima.

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It centers around the question “How could the American Government be so wrong about Iraq?” Thus, titled it is imperialism, love. The original article missed the opportunity to expand on the fact Iraq could be any country. The original article attempts to explain the invasion by briefly touching upon the American Industrial Military Complex.

However, the story barely touches upon the imperialistic bloodlust that prompted the US invasion of Iraq. It barely talks about Iraq’s geographical location and energy resources that would enable political leverage over the Middle East and other states that rely on Iraq. The central idea of my reply to the OP-ED is to critique the empire, empires rarely make mistakes especially costly mistakes.

On March 19, 2003, Bush addressed the masses, and to the masses, he suggested “[We] come to Iraq with respect for all its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambitions in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control to its people”. In an ode to Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden, “saving” Iraq became a punch-line for the invasion. The goal was to establish a democracy. Or so, we thought.

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The US waged a war a unilateral war based on a lie.

War is a stern teacher. War is avoidable, war is preventable. In the opinion of several foreign policy analysts, the invasion of Iraq was an example of a classic war of choice. This era of pro-choice wars, in which truth is at best an inconvenience, has been referred to as the “Post-Truth Era” by foreign policy analysts.

Amidst a social panic and rampant islamophobia post-9/11, the United States jumped the gun to send a message. And it did. Hussain was now toppled, Iraq destabilized but the weapons of mass destruction no one could find. And that is because there were none. Empires lie, all the time.

Many consider the Bush and Blair admission’s sense of urgency when it comes to invading Iraq, one of history’s most successful moral panics.

The case of the Iraq invasion being based on pure deceit is furthered by a memo leak, published in The Sunday Times of London on May 1, 2005. The Downing Street Memo1 was a collection of meeting minutes from Blair’s war cabinet circulated on July 23, 2002. In which the Defense Secretary of the UK, Geoff Hoon confirms that the US had already begun “activities” within Iraq to place pressure on the government for a regime.

Mind you, this was before the case of Iraq [potentially] possessing WMDS was presented to the UN and any other allies. Wanting a regime change of course isn’t enough, legally, the memo confesses. The three possible outlets for an invasion of Iraq included: self-defense, on humanitarian grounds, or authorization from the United Nations Security Council.

Saddam’s refusal to allow UN inspectors was thus, monumental for the Bush administration in furthering its argument for an invasion on the grounds of self-defense. The invasion of Iraq as the memo further confirms, began long before 2003. It began six months before Congress approved military action against Iraq.

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The invasion began in August 2002, to be exact, according to British journalist Michael Smith. An average of ten tons of bombings dropped between May and August. When the Bush-Blair administration did not receive the expected retaliation from the Iraqi regime, by the end of August, the retaliation strengthened with about 54.6 tons dropped in September alone.

The cynical use of the UN in the invasion of Iraq is how the United States crept into the Middle East. Access to Iraq directly provided the States with political leverage over various economies reliant on Iraq’s energy exports – one of the largest in the region; located in the heart of the Middle East. Thus, while a booming economy might be a more digestible explanation of why the US invaded Iraq, that is just one aspect of the invasion. Dare I suggest the invasion is rooted in imperialism and the myth of American exceptionalism? Empires rarely make mistakes, especially costly mistakes. Every move, every “mistake” is a calculated risk.

Power, influence, and oil prevail over lives in this rational calculation.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.