FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Iraq War is Not Over for the Iraqi People

by JUSTIN DOOLITTLE

In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg stated the following, in language that was introduced by Judge Robert Jackson, the lead American prosecutor of Axis war criminals:

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

This means that those who launch a war of aggression are responsible for far more than just the initial death and destruction caused by the war. They should be held responsible for all of the “accumulated evil” that follows and that would not have otherwise occurred. This is a very succinct and intuitive ethical precept that is virtually impossible to argue against. But while this injunction can’t seriously be disputed, it can be ignored, and, in fact, often is by powerful states. Unfortunately, Jackson’s own government has never taken his words seriously, and this has never been more evident than in the case of Iraq.

The United States launched a preventive – not preemptivecontrary to what we often read – war against Iraq in March of 2003. This is now considered old news. Most people are aware that the attack resulted in death and misery on a massive scale – millions of refugees, well over 100,000 dead civilians, an exponential increase in terrorism, and so on. Nevertheless, talk about Iraq has all but disappeared in the mainstream, following the U.S.’s much-ballyhooed “withdrawal” from the country in 2011. The general feeling seems to be that Iraq was a tragic episode, one of the worst “blunders” in the annals of American foreign policy, but is now thankfully behind us. No American service member has been killed in Iraq since November of 2011.

However, the war is far from over for the people of Iraq. They are living with the consequences of the war every day, and will be for quite some time. The country is, to this day, terrorized by suicide bombings, which, crucially, did not exist in Iraq prior to the American invasion. In early 2008, Robert Fisk called the acute reality of suicide terrorism in Iraq “perhaps the most ghoulish and frightening legacy of George Bush’s invasion.” Now, more than five years later, the “perhaps” can safely be removed from that sentence. On Tuesday, 16 more Iraqis were pointlessly killed in several bombings and shootings. The previous day was even more deadly, with a “wave” of bombings killing 58 and wounding 187. The death toll from sectarian violence has just passed 500 for this month alone. Iraq is, by any measure, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, far more dangerous than it was under Saddam. The United States and its allies have direct moral culpability for this state of sheer hell in which millions of Iraqis are living.

Shockingly little attention has been paid to the “evil” that is still very much “accumulating” in Iraq. It’s virtually impossible to imagine that any of the individuals responsible for carrying out this massive war crime will ever be brought to justice. In fact, the person more responsible than any other just had a fancy new library built in his name, and was the subject of lavish praise from his fellow American statesmen at the opening ceremony. It was a day for Bush to “bask in the sun,” according to the New York Times report on the celebration. Naturally, “Iraq” was one word that “never passed Bush’s lips, or those of the other four presidents who spoke.” That would have been such a buzz-kill.

Judge Jackson’s morally eloquent words are destined to be ignored, because powerful actors generally do as they please, and turning themselves in for war crimes is typically not high on the agenda. At the very least, though, as responsible citizens, we can express, in a variety of ways, outrage and disapproval at our political class pushing the unconscionable horrors the U.S. has inflicted on the Iraqi people under the rug. Minimal standards of compassion and solidarity demand that much.

Justin Doolittle writes a political blog called Crimethink. He has an M.A. in public policy from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in political science from Coastal Carolina University.

Justin Doolittle is a freelance writer based in Long Island, New York. You can follow him on Twitter @JD1871.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail