The 'Freedom' Bush Left to Iraqis, 10 Years Later: A Bloodbath Civil War

Fighters belonging to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), a group linked to Al-Qaeda, have almost entirely taken over two major cities in Iraq's Anbar province, Fallujah and Ramadi. Iraqi forces and anti-Al-Qaeda Sunni tribal leaders have retaken some parts of those cities, but the ISIS fighters are holding strong.

If it wasn’t obvious 10 years ago, it should be now: George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a complete and utter disaster. It has made that country a more dangerous and more violent place. A stable democracy — the kind Bush and his cronies Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz promised would come about after we knocked out Saddam — looks as far away as ever. Instead, Iraq is once again teetering on the edge of all-out civil war.

The capture of Fallujah and Ramadi by Islamic radicals caps off a year of bloodshed for Iraq. According to the United Nations, 2013 was Iraq’s deadliest year since 2008 with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them civilians. Just last month, 759 people were killed.

Tensions between minority Sunnis and the ruling Shiite government of Nouri-Al Maliki, given new fuel by the war in neighboring Syria, have risen to a boiling point not seen since the height of Iraq’s civil war in 2006.

History, it appears, is repeating itself in the worst possible way.

After we invaded Iraq in 2003, Fallujah, the same city overrun by Al-Qaeda fighters on Friday, was the heartland of the Sunni insurgency against American forces. Now it’s once again a launching pad for religious extremists who want to turn Iraq into a theocracy.

If you're looking for someone to blame for this, look no further than Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush and all the other neo-cons who were pushing to invade Iraq as far back as the 1990s.

In 1998, the big neo-con think tank Project for a New American Century actually sent a letter to President Bill Clinton asking him to get plans ready for an invasion of Iraq. Arguing that America’s current Iraq strategy was “inadequate,” the letter’s authors said:

The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. ... In the long term, [this] means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

Clinton didn’t bite, but when George W. Bush came to Washington, the neo-cons knew they had someone who would do their bidding.

In fact, while campaigning in 1999, George W. Bush told his biographer, Mickey Herskowitz, that if he became president, he wouldn’t make the mistake his father made in having only a short and limited war with Iraq; he’d have a big enough war so he’d become a “war-time president” with enough political capital to do things like privatize Social Security.

Cindy Sheehan talked about this when she testified in front of Congress in 2005. Speaking before a committee put together by John Conyers, she said:

... in interviews in 1999 with respected journalist and long-time Bush family friend, Mickey Herskowitz, then Governor George Bush stated, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.

If you needed any more proof of the longstanding neo-con plot to invade Iraq, consider this: in 2001, right after the Supreme Court installed Bush in the White House, Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force was mapping out the locations of Iraq’s oil fields. Larry Klayman’s Judicial Watch has put the actual maps online, and they’re well worth checking out.

In the end, the war on terror was just an excuse; the neo-cons wanted to topple Saddam Hussein all along. In 2003, they finally got their wish when American-led forces invaded Iraq. That invasion and the eventual overthrow of Saddam Hussein created a vacuum that radicals and extremists were eager to fill.

Today, those extremists are as strong as ever. Al-Qaeda-linked forces are spilling over from Syria and linking up with homegrown militants in Anbar province. They’re ready to do battle with Iraq’s Shia government and willing to kill anyone who stands in their way.

The freedom Bush promised the Iraqi people now looks like the freedom to die in a region-wide sectarian civil war that’s rapidly spiraling out of control.

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