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For Cheney—pictured above speaking to uniformed service members on Balad Air Base, Iraq, March 18, 2008—and his oil pals, writes Eric Margolis, "conquering Iraq would secure the Arab world’s biggest oil reserves for Uncle Sam and offer a central military base in the region." (Photo: US Army/flickr/cc)

Republicans Can't Face the Truth About Iraq

Eric Margolis

 by Eric Margolis

Gov. Jeb Bush repeated one of the biggest falsehoods of our time during the recent presidential candidate debate: “we were misled (into the Iraq War)  by faulty intelligence.”

US intelligence was not “misled.”  It was ordered by the real, de facto  president, Dick Cheney, to provide excuses for a war of aggression against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. 

PM Tony Blair, forced British intelligence services to “sex up”  reports that Iraq had nuclear weapons; he purged the government and the venerable broadcaster BBC of journalists who failed to amplify Blair’s lies.  Bush and Blair reportedly discussed painting a US Air Force plane in UN colors and getting it to buzz Iraqi anti-aircraft sites in hope the Iraqis would fire on it.  Bush told Blair that after conquering Iraq, he intended to invade Iran, Syria, Libya and Pakistan.

In fact, Iraq had no “weapons of mass destruction,” save some rusty barrels of mustard and nerve gas that had been supplied by the US and Britain for use against Iran.  I broke this story from Baghdad back in late 1990. 

Tyler Drumheller, who died last week, was the former chief of CIA’s European division.  He was the highest-ranking intelligence officer to go public and accuse the Bush administration of hyping fabricated evidence to justify invading Iraq. 

Drumheller was particularly forceful in denouncing the Iraqi defector codenamed “Curveball,” whose ludicrous claims about mobile Iraqi germ laboratories were trumpeted before the UN by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.  “Curveball’s” claims were outright lies and Powell, whose career was ruined by parroting these absurd allegations, should have known better.

“Curveball” was an ‘agent provocateur’ clearly sent by a neighbor of  Iraq to help promote a US attack on that nation.  Whether it was Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or Israel that sent Curveball,” we still don’t know. All three fabricated “evidence” against Iraq and passed it to Washington.  That is where US intelligence was indeed misled.  But that’s only a minor part of the story.

A Washington cabal of pro-Israel neocons, oil men, and old-fashioned imperialists joined to promote a grossly illegal invasion of oil-rich Iraq.  One of its senior members, former Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz, admitted that weapons of mass destruction was chosen as the most convenient and emotive pretext for war.  Orders went out to CIA and NSA to find information linking Iraq to 9/11 and weapons of mass destruction.

Some of the worst torture inflicted on suspects kidnapped by CIA’s action teams was designed to make them admit to a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein.  There was, of course, none. But administration officials, like the odious Condoleeza Rice, kept broadly hinting at a nuclear threat to America. 

Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, polls showed a majority of Americans believed Iraq was threatening the US with nuclear attack and was behind 9/11.  Amazingly, a poll taken of self-professed evangelical Christians just before the US attacked Iraq showed that over 80% supported war against Iraq.  So much for turning the other cheek.

Most of the US media, notably the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, amplified the lies of the Bush administration. TV networks were ordered never to show American military casualties or civilian dead.  Those, like this writer, who questioned the rational for war, or who wouldn’t go along with the party line, were blanked out from print and TV.

For example, I was immediately dropped from a major TV network after daring mention that Israel supported the 2003 Iraq war and would benefit from it.  I was blacklisted by another major US TV network at the direct demand of the Bush White House for repeatedly insisting that Iraq had no nuclear capability.

Very few analysts, journalists, or politicians took time to ask:  even if Iraq had nuclear weapons, how could they be delivered to North America?  Iraq had no long-range bombers and no missiles with range greater than 100kms.  Perhaps by FedEx?  No one asked, why would Iraq invite national suicide by trying to hit the US with a nuclear weapon?

The most original answer came from George W. Bush:  nefarious Iraqi freighters were lurking in the North Atlantic carrying “drones of death” that would attack sleeping America.   This hallucination was based on a single report  that the bumbling Iraqis were working a  children’s model airplane that, in the end, broke and never flew.  What inspired such a phantasmagoria?  Pot, too much bourbon, LSD, or thundering orders from Dick Cheney to find a damned good excuse for invading Iraq.

For Cheney and his oil pals, conquering Iraq would secure the Arab world’s biggest oil reserves for Uncle Sam and offer a central military base in the region.  For Washington’s bloodthirsty neocons, pulverizing Iraq would remove one of Israel’s most determined enemies, crush the only Arab nation that might challenge Israel’s nuclear monopoly, and cost Israel nothing.   Invading Iraq produced the slow disintegration of the Mideast so long sought by militant Zionists.

It all worked brilliantly, at least from Israel’s viewpoint.  Not, however for the US.  Bush’s invasion shattered Iraq, led to al-Qaida and ISIS,  and left Washington saddled with a $1 trillion-dollar bill instead of the $60 million cost estimated by Wolfowitz.   The Mideast is in a tailspin, Palestinians are totally isolated, and Egypt, the region’s key nation, run by an Arab-fascist military dictatorship.

Tyler Drumheller was the only senior CIA officer to stand up and tell Americans they were lied into an unnecessary, illegal war.  Today, we have Iraqi déjà vu  anew as the lie factories and fear mongers work overtime to promote war with Iran.

© 2021 Eric Margolis
Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis

Eric Margolis is a columnist, author and a veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East. Margolis was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is "American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World."

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