'Background to The Iraq War' by Patrick Treacy
The Iraq War, (Second Gulf War) is an ongoing conflict, which began on March 20th 2003 with the United States led invasion of Iraq by a multinational coalition composed of US and UK troops supported by smaller contingents from other nations.
Some U.S. officials claimed Saddam Hussein and al-Queda had been cooperating, but no evidence of any collaborative relationship has been found. In the period before the invasion I wrote " one of the continuing realities of human existence is war. From earliest recorded human history through to modern times, communities have engaged in armed conflict as a method of dispute resolution. The basic theory, which has arisen within Western culture to evaluate the legitimacy of military action is called ‘just war’ theory and includes the contributions of philosophers and theologians dating back to Roman times. Just war is a historical tradition that is neither theological nor philosophical, but rather something influenced by the traditions of chivalry and practices derived from the experience of many battles. It is a theory often used by Christians to determine whether the decision to go to war and the means used to prosecute that war are just and has been used as a method of evaluating military actions by thinkers as varied as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and Grotius. Interestingly, most early Christians were largely pacifistic in nature, but with the increasing political influence of the Christian Church, fourth and fifth century theologians began to develop justifications for the use of military force. The first Christian theologian to address the circumstances under which war was legitimate was St. Augustine of Hippo. He stated, ‘for a war to be just, it must be fought for the right reasons, and must be waged under rightful authority’. He held that the only reason, which justified war, was the desire for peace" .
America may have indeed had this desire as there was genuine concerns over Iraq's financial support for the families of Palestine suicide bombers, Iraqi government human rights abuses and the use of Iraq's oil reserves. This ideology seems more like just cause as many were suspicious that the looming confrontation was primarily about oil. In the past two years, America had established bases near the major sources of Asian fossil fuels. The decision of Unocal oil company to build a pipeline across Afghanistan from Turkmenistan to Pakistan is cited as a case in question. At present Iraq exports around 1.5m barrels a day but this could be increased to 6m barrels within a short time. The US needs to compete with China for access to new energy reserves as Dick Chaney, (the former head of Halliburton Oil) the US Vice-President predicted that imported oil would rise from 10.4 million barrels a day at present to 16.7 million barrels a day by 2020.
Traditionally, America has looked to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for its crude supplies. However, since Saudi nationals carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the main, the former important Middle East ally is seen in a different light and political turmoil in Venezuela has virtually halted exports to the US. Despite these moral shortcomings, we must never forget the terrible oppressive conditions under which the population of Iraq had been forced to live since the dictatorial Ba’ath Government of Saddem Hussein came to power. I myself was hled as a prisoner of this regime for visiting the scence of the chemical gas bombing of al Halabja in 1990. Right intention also required that the action of war must be carried out without inflicting gratuitous suffering out of a desire to punish the aggressor nation-state. This did not happen in the context of abuses of political prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the Haditha killings, the Blackwater killings and the total lack of control leading to more than 16% of the population becoming refugees. (2 million fled Iraq while approximately 1.9 million being presently displaced).
Criticisms of the Iraq War include: legality of the invasion, insufficient post-invasion plans, high rate of human casualties, adverse effect on global war on terror, damage to America's traditional alliances and influence and disruption of Iraqi oil production and related energy security concerns (the price of oil has quadrupled since 2002).The invasion consisted of eight military objectives. Each one follows from key points laid out in President Bush’s National Security Strategy. The ojectives were to end Saddam Hussein’s regime, identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, search, capture and drive out terrorists, obtain intelligence related to terrorist networks, accumulate intelligence that is related to the illicit network of weapons of mass destruction, end sanctions and distribute humanitarian aid to those in need, secure Iraq’s oil fields and other resources, and to assist the Iraqi people in transitioning to a representative government. Operation Iraqi Freedom was the largest special operations force since Vietnam. Initially it was a quick and decisive operation encountering little resistance. The Iraqi Army was quickly overwhelmed with only the elite Fedayeen Saddam putting up strong resistance before melting away into the civilian population. The rest, as predicted has been a financial disaster for the US and a human tragedy the people of Iraq.
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These articles bring together my published award winning articles on Iraq and Africa from the Irish Medical Times and the Irish Medical News. In some ways they are an extension of the travel website www.patricktreacy.com detailing the period in Iraq.