A Legacy of Shame and the Unending Quest for Truth
Twenty years have passed since the drums of war were beaten, heralding the invasion of Iraq by a coalition led by the United States and the United Kingdom. It was a war sold to the public on the pretext of disarming a despotic regime of its weapons of mass destruction. Yet, as the dust settled and the smoke cleared, the truth emerged, revealing a sinister tapestry of deceit, manipulation, and abuse.
In the shadows of the grand narrative of Western democracy, lies the unspoken legacy of the Iraq War, an indelible stain on the conscience of those who orchestrated it. We need to look at the machinations of the state in manipulating parliament and the role of the press in creating a climate of fear and loathing, manipulating public opinion till the people cried out for war.
A war, justified by the now-infamous false claims of weapons of mass destruction, was a product of neoconservative ideology, a school of thought that advocates for the aggressive promotion of democracy and American values around the world. It was this ideology that drove the Bush administration to invade Iraq, despite the lack of evidence to support their claims.
As we mark the 20th anniversary of this catastrophic war, it is crucial to revisit the events that led to the invasion and reflect on the lasting consequences that continue to haunt us today.
In 2002, the US and UK governments, led by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, concocted a narrative of fear and urgency, claiming that Iraq, under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, possessed WMDs that posed an imminent threat to global security. This narrative, built on falsehoods and fabrications, was amplified by a complicit mainstream media, which played a crucial role in selling the war to the public.
The invasion, launched in March 2003, was a brutal and illegal act of aggression that violated the United Nations Charter. It resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, the displacement of millions, and the destruction of a country’s infrastructure and social fabric.
The destabilising effect of the Iraq War has not been limited to Iraq itself. The conflict has also had a profound impact on the wider region, contributing to the rise of Islamist insurgencies and the spread of sectarian violence. The war has also strained relations between Western nations and the Muslim world, further exacerbating tensions and mistrust.
The war was not only an assault on Iraq but also on the principles of truth, justice, and human rights. The architects of this war, Bush and Blair, have never been held accountable for their actions. Instead, they continue to enjoy the privileges and accolades bestowed upon them by the very institutions that should have condemned their crimes.
The enduring legacy of the Iraq war is one of shattered lives, regional destabilisation, and the erosion of trust in the institutions that govern our world. The emergence of ISIS, the refugee crisis, and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East can all be traced back to the fateful decision to invade Iraq.
The Unspoken Legacy of the Iraq War: A Reckoning Overdue
The 20th anniversary of the Iraq war should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of unchecked power and the consequences of allowing lies and propaganda to dictate international policy. It is a call to action for all of us, as global citizens, to demand accountability, transparency, and justice from our leaders and to resist the forces of imperialism that continue to threaten peace and stability around the world.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the Iraq War’s disastrous consequences, there has been a conspicuous lack of accountability for those responsible. The architects of the war have largely escaped scrutiny, and many continue to hold positions of power and influence. This lack of accountability has allowed the same flawed ideology that led to the invasion of Iraq to persist, with potentially disastrous consequences for future conflicts.
The Iraq War: A Legacy of mass Deception and Mainstream Media Complicity.
In a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, former Knight Ridder journalists Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel reflect on their reporting in the lead-up to the war. Unlike most of their colleagues in the mainstream media, Landay and Strobel were sceptical of the Bush administration’s claims about WMDs. They dug deep, talked to sources, and uncovered evidence that contradicted the official narrative.
Their reporting was largely ignored by the rest of the media, who were more interested in parroting the government’s talking points than in doing their job as journalists. As a result, the American public was misled into supporting a war that would cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, and destabilise the Middle East for years to come.
The Iraq War was not an aberration; it was a symptom of a deeper malaise in both the British and American media. For decades, the mainstream media has been complicit in promoting the interests of the powerful, rather than holding them accountable. From the Vietnam War to the War on Terror, the media has too often acted as a megaphone for government propaganda, rather than as a check on power.
The consequences of this complicity are dire. In the case of the Iraq War, the media’s failure to do its job helped to create a climate of fear and paranoia that allowed the Bush administration to launch an illegal and unjustified war. This war, in turn, led to the rise of ISIS, the refugee crisis, and the ongoing instability in the Middle East.
It is important to remember the role that the media played in promoting this disastrous conflict. The question is how can we hold the media accountable for their failures, and demand that they do better in the future When the media acts only in the interest of a few and is owned by even fewer? We need a media that is willing to challenge power, rather than serve it, and that is committed to telling the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it may be.
The Iraq War was a crime against humanity. It was an illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation based on false information.
And yet, the people responsible for this tragedy are still not held to account.
The truth is we need to stop locking up journalists like Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has been persecuted for years for his work uncovering the truth about the Iraq War and start prosecuting those responsible for the misinformation and lies that took into the criminal act in the first place.
The way things are going Assange will be another victim of the Iraq war another victim of an ever-increasingly totalitarian state.
So here we are 20 years on, no lessons learnt, no accountability and once more, we are beholden to the mainstream media to tell the story of a conflict that rages at the heart of Europe. As Ukrainian soldiers fight fiercely for every scrap of territory and Russian soldiers wage war for what they believe to be their truth. Both sides victims of a media that dutifully echoes the government’s version of events in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the United States adds fuel to the fire, sustaining its economy in yet another proxy war. A proxy war to bring in its own brand of democracy.
As the great journalist and truth teller John Pilger once said, “It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.” It is our responsibility to challenge the narratives that led to the Iraq war and ensure that such atrocities are never repeated.