Ten years ago the US launched its indiscriminate “shock and awe” attack on Bagdad. Much of the country opposed the war, the so-called justifications for the war were full of holes and non-sequiturs, and today we see the war as a calamity. Seymour Hersh asks “How could a small group of hard-line conservatives around President Bush, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and a few neoconservatives so quickly throw us over the cliff?” The answer is that it wasn’t just this clique of Republicans and neoconservatives. It was also several prominent Democrat leaders who had many months to find out what many of us learned prior to the attack: Saddam had no WMD and the case that Secretary of State Colin Powell made before the United Nations was based on falsehood and propaganda. While we can rightly condemn George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Republicans and neoconservatives of leading the US into a tragic and immoral war on the basis of lies, there is no reason to be any more forgiving of the leading Democrats who supported this illegal and unjustifiable invasion: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Harry Reid. Without their support, the war would not have gone forward.
The public evidence overwhelmingly validated that there were no WMD. It is reasonable to believe that the cabal of Republicans and leading Democrats who supported the invasion also knew this. Each of them had bright and informed staffs who also had to know that the WMD justification was a lie.
Why, then, did the US decide to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power?
It is always useful to follow the money. Who thought they would benefit financially from this illegal invasion?
A lot has been written about the oil companies who had their eye on Iraqi oil even before 9/11. Yet there are much larger financial stakeholders: the US government, it’s 1%, and top politicians in both parties.
The centrality and value of the dollar as essential to the economic security of the US, hence, at lease from the point of few of top politicians and the 1%, essential to the security of the US. The value of the dollar requires that the dollar remain the currency most used in international transactions and remain one of the world’s dominant reserve currencies.
Suddenly this comfortable status quo was being threatened. Saddam Hussein was about to begin selling oil using the EU currency, not the US dollar. This would have weakened the value of the dollar and undermined the US economy. That is the unpublicized reason for the elimination of Saddam Hussein.
Ron Paul has made public this rationale but it has been given scant attention. “Saddam Hussein demanded Euros for his oil. His arrogance was a threat to the dollar; his lack of any military might was never a threat…There was no public talk of removing Saddam Hussein because of his attack on the integrity of the dollar as a reserve currency by selling oil in Euros. Many believe this was the real reason for our obsession with Iraq. I doubt it was the only reason, but it may well have played a significant role in our motivation to wage war.”
A year after the war began, Sohan Sharma, Sue Tracy, & Surinder Kumar also claimed that the unprovoked “shock and awe” attack on Iraq was to serve several economic purposes, the first of which was to “safeguard the U.S. economy by re-denominating Iraqi oil in U.S. dollars, instead of the euro, to try to lock the world back into dollar oil trading so the U.S. would remain the dominant world power-militarily and economically.” If OPEC began being sold in Euros, estimates were that the value of the dollar would fall between 20% and 40%.
A 20-40% collapse of the dollar would have put the US economy into a tailspin. The price of fuel would immediately shoot up, as would the price of other imports. The dollar would no longer be the reserve currency of the world or the currency of international trade. As Ron Paul also pointed out, the health of our economy depends on the international centrality of the dollar. This is what supports not only the economy, but our military and our ability to fight foreign wars. Threatening all of this—economy and military–was a significant reason for those concerned about the economy and our military dominance in the world to take action.
This threat to the dollar would explain Hillary Clinton’s insisting that Iraq was such a dire threat to U.S. national security that it required her, “in the best interests of our nation,” to vote to authorize the invasion. If you equate the security of the US economy or the funding of US military with the national security, as Hillary Clinton and other leading Democrats likely did, that would explain their support for the invasion.
Those who defended the Iraq invasion never mentioned in public that the invasion was necessary to defend the dollar. To do so would have created a public backlash as well as public scrutiny of why the dollar was so vulnerable. To explain this vulnerability to the public, the explanation would have eventually revealed that we were a nation that cannot pay its debts. The political cost of a crashing economy, lack of funds for our ever-expanding military, and an alarmed public would have been an unbearable political burden for those in power. Without any mention of the threat to the dollar, those who supported the war publicly justified it as a way of preventing Saddam Hussein from using or developing WMD. The war in Iraq was to be portrayed as a justifiable preventive war.
In 2003, Noam Chomsky identified three necessary conditions for a preventive war:
1. The target country must be virtually defenseless.
3. There must be a way to portray the target country as the ultimate evil and an imminent threat to our survival.
“Iraq qualified on all counts,” Chomsky concluded, and he was right:
1. Iraq was weakened by sanctions, in fact had no WMDs, and so was virtually defenseless.
2. Protecting the dollar and the US economy were seen as worth the trouble of an invasion.
3. The US did portray Saddam Hussein as an ultimate evil and an imminent threat to our very survival.
And so, ten years ago, , the US launched a war that would kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, kill over four thousand five hundred US troops, cost over $4 trillion dollars, create thousands of US Vets so wounded physically and psychologically that many are committing suicide, and escalate the hatred of the US throughout the Muslim world.
The result was that the US did protect the fragile Almighty Dollar from Saddam Hussein’s W$D. Since the war accomplished what it was aimed to accomplish, none of the Republicans responsible for this illegal and immoral war were even prosecuted. The prominent Democrats who supported it–Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry and Harry Reid—have been rewarded with posts of political respect and power. It is important to “follow the money” and understand why this horribly immoral and illegal invasion occurred. We need to be fully informed as citizens, and seeing beyond the propaganda fog of the aims of the Iraq war is a step in that important direction.