March 23, 2019

Sixteen years ago, the US and Britain committed a crime of historic proportion, the invasion and destruction of Iraq. It was as egregious an aggression as Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland.

Large numbers of Iraqi civilians died from 2003-2007. Iraq’s water and sewage systems were bombed, causing widespread cholera. The UN estimated 500,000 Iraqi children alone died as a result. Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, said it was ‘a price worth paying.’

But not so much for the 4,424 US soldiers killed in Iraq, or the 31,952 wounded, many with devastating brain and neurological injuries. Nor for US taxpayers who forked out over $1 trillion for this botched war and are still paying the bill – which was hidden in the national debt.

In 2003, Iraq was the most advanced Arab nation in social welfare health, education, military power, and industrial development. But it was run by a megalomaniac, Saddam Hussein, who had been helped into power and sustained in his long war against Iran, by the United States, Britain and their Arab satraps.

When Saddam grew too big for his britches, Washington lured him into invading Kuwait, another American-British oil satrapy. A hue and cry went out from Washington and London that Iraq had secret nuclear weapons that threatened the entire globe. War, thundered US-British propaganda, was urgent and necessary.

As I knew from covering Iraq for many years, it had no nuclear weapons and no medium or long-ranged delivery systems. What it did have was a chemical/biological laboratory at Salman Pak that was staffed with British technicians producing lethal toxins for use against Iran. I discovered this secret operation and reported it. Meanwhile, the dim-witted Iraqis were threatening to hang me as an Israeli spy.

I watched with disgust and dismay as the US and Britain launched massive broadsides of lies against Iraq and those few, like myself, who insisted Baghdad had no nuclear weapons.

Almost the entire US and British media were compelled to act as mouthpieces for the George Bush/Tony Blair war against Iraq, trumpeting egregious lies designed to whip up war fever. Our media, supposedly the tribune of democracy, became lie factories, putting even the old Soviet media to shame.

The New York Times led the charge, along with the three main TV networks. I was in Iraq with its star correspondent, Judith Miller, who became a key agent of the pro-war campaign. So too the Murdoch press in Britain and Fox News. When the BBC tried to question the torrent of lies about Iraq, it was crushed by Tony Blair. A leading British nuclear expert who questioned the nuclear lies was murdered. Iraq was polluted by US depleted uranium shells.

Journalists like me were intimidated or marginalized. I was dropped by a leading US newspaper, a major Canadian TV chain, and by CNN for whom I had been a regular commentator. I was told the Bush White House had given orders, ‘get rid of Margolis.’ My sin: insisting Iraq had no nuclear weapons and was not threatening the US. Things became so absurd that the story went out that Saddam had ‘drones of death’ that were poised to attack America.

Of the US media, only the McClatchy chain and Christian Science Monitor reported the war honestly. Nearly all the rest of America’s TV talking heads brayed for war. Most are still there today, demanding war against Iran.

Who was behind the war? A combination of big oil, which wanted Iraq’s vast reserves, and the Israel lobby which wanted to see Iraq destroyed by US power. The Pentagon was taken over by pro-war neoconservatives: Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld. George Bush, an ignorant fool, was putty in the hands of VP Dick Cheney, a pro-war megalomaniac. The CIA played along. Even the respected former general, Colin Powell, made a fool of himself before the UN and the world by claiming Iraq had hidden weapons. It had chemical weapons, all right, but we had the receipts to show they came from the US and Britain.

No one in the US or Britain ever faced trial for war-mongering and killing vast numbers of people. The lying media escaped well-deserved censure. As for the lying politicians who brought on this disaster, they blamed poor intelligence and bad luck. Those few who opposed the war of aggression remain sidelined or silenced.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2019

This post is in: Iraq


  1. yousayhesay says:

    Bolton et all, would like to lay the steps for a similar pathway to war with Iran. The thing is, in the past 17 years, the world global dynamics have changed considerably and will continue to do so, mainly with rise of Asia, in particular China and the mastermind Putin behind the scenes. Changed so much, that the US / Israel are unable to execute such a complicated plan again.

  2. I felt from day one. The stories about Iraq were lies. I saw Eric eviscerated by the powers that be in a shameful attack on Journalism. The same sort of thing happen to Paul Graig Roberts “Oppose the war? We will no longer publish your findings.” At that time Canadian PM Jean Chretien refused to believe the war hysteria and kept Canada out of this completely shameful event. When Chretien made this decision (Canada’s worst PM ever) Stephen Harper railed at Chretien for NOT supporting our friends the USA. Harper s a neo-con republican in the guise of a Canadian conservative who went on the join the American slaughter in Libya (To Canada’s undying shame). He reduced the GST by 1% (against the advice) of every legitimate economist who heard about the plan. Why? because it would throw a monkey wrench into Justin Trudeau’s government’s fiscal plans not because it was to the benefit of anyone.

    • “I felt from day one. The stories about Iraq were lies.” The sad thing is that I think the rest of the world with the exception of those ready to attack were of the same opinion. I knew of no one that believed that Saddam had WMD. It was all contrived, and the rest of the world did nothing.

  3. And the lies still continue, fake news is one of the few things Trump said that is actually true

  4. Steve_M. says:

    Another great column, Eric. You were indeed among the few well-known Americans who dared to speak out against the Iraq War. I have a few points of clarification to offer and other items of note. Another group that pushed hard for the war against Irag were the many American defense contractors who stood to profit from it. Also, CNN, through its reporter at the Pentagon, Barbara Starr, was a willing propaganda machine for the Bush administration. (I’ve never forgotten Starr’s enthusiastic coverage of the Iraq War on behalf of the Pentagon.)
    Fortunately, Canada’s Liberal government at the time, led by Jean Chrétien, resisted tremendous pressure from the Bush administration and many pro-war armchair generals within Canada to join the war effort. Most of Canada’s newspapers, including the Globe and Mail, plus the National Post and its affiliates, all led by strong Zionists at the time, were only too anxious to see Canadian troops sent into that war. And another armchair general, Stephen Harper, then leader of the Conservative Party and later the Prime Minister, openly apologized to the US public via a New York Times op-ed for Canada’s refusal to become involved. (The closest Harper had ever been to a real battle at that point was maybe a heated argument with his wife.) Yet, while Canada stayed out of that war, it unfortunately more than made up for it through its long involvement in the war in Afghanistan, another sad story that has caused the needless loss of so many lives and terrible destruction.

  5. Mike Smith says:

    I believe the problem began even earlier… I have read that a senior US delegation met with their Iraqi counterparts in Jordan a week before Iraq went into Kuwait… Led by Wolfowitz, it is speculated that this party ” green lit ” the invasion of Kuwait promising political cover. But would Saddam and company have believed them if it had not been for all the support given them during Iraqs war of aggression against Iran? Supplying everything under the sun including equipment to deploy chemical and biological weapons ( if not the weapons themselves ) the US backed exactly the same action they later claimed to be punishing Iraq for …

  6. “It was as egregious an aggression as Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland.” It was worse… Bush falls into the category of ‘…speaking ill of the dead, like our PET, but for other reasons. All the flattering eulogies given at his funeral. It would be nice if a million Iraquis were to have provided those eulogies; I wonder what the concensus would be. Any sensible world would hold Blair and Bush up as mass murderers and/or war criminals. The attack was tacitly approved by the United Nations… after the event. The only reason for the UN’s continuing existence is that ‘some dialogue’ is better than ‘no dialogue’. I hope God has a nice warm place reserved for Bush and his ‘henchmen’.
    I’m almost of the opinion that the invasion of Poland as an excuse for declaring war on Germany was contrived. Germany had just gone through a horrendous depression and was stretching her industrial ‘might’. This was posing as an economic threat to both the UK and to France. The US, sitting on the sidelines, could capitalise from both sides. I recall early Volkswagen commercials depicting Russians referring to it as the ‘perfect peoples car’. The irony was that the Volkswagen was exactly this.
    My programmer buddy’s parents went through the German depression. His dad served with Rommel, was captured, and spent the last half of the war as a POW in Saskatchewan, Canada. An interesting anecdote regarding his mom. They lived on a small farm in Ontario, and one day a cat came into the house. His mom referred to it as a word unknown to me; from earlier exposure I had understood that ‘cat’ was ‘Katze’ in German and asked him if ‘cat’ was different in Austrian and was informed the translation for his mom’s expression translated to ‘roof rabbit’. I guess cats were a source of food during their depression.
    It is surprising how many ‘well heeled Americans’ were strong supporters of the Nazi party and Fascists at the beginning of the war. Churchill had to meet with Roosevelt in 1942 (year?), to have him put an end to American companies supplying Germany with war equipment. I also understand the first Messerschmitt 109s were equipped with Rolls Royce engines. History is often the winners side of the story and truth is obscured.
    “The UN estimated 500,000 Iraqi children alone died as a result.” A total number of victims will never be determined, but, estimates place the number in the millions. “Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, said it was ‘a price worth paying.’” I hope God has a nice warm place reserved for her, too. ‘Unsex me’ from Macbeth, comes to mind for this horrid woman.
    It amazes me that the US can afford the excesses of their Imperialism. With a $22 billion debt and still growing, I wonder what the ‘day of reckoning’ will bring. The politicians have no fiscal responsibility; Canada has a similar fiscal approach. “…the 4,424 US soldiers killed in Iraq, or the 31,952 wounded…” Their Veteran Affairs is just as disfunctional as is the Canadian one. Cost is no object, except when it comes to looking after the military. Canada neglects our veterans, too; they should boycott next Remembrance Day, as a show of protest.
    “In 2003, Iraq was the most advanced Arab nation in social welfare health, education, military power, and industrial development.” Prior to the invasion, this was initially destroyed by the Americans with crippling embargoes. Your use of the term ‘megalomaniac’ is disturbing. Saddam Hussein was no more a megalomaniac than was Blair or Bush and based on death and destruction was considerably less of one. First step is to vilify the ‘enemy’. Hopefully ‘the Kim’ is smarter and retains his nuclear weapons. I’m more concerned about the US than I am about North Korea.
    Newspapers, as ‘big businesses’ no longer provide a critical analysis of the world events. It’s likely cheaper and less work to undertake investigative reporting. Truth, may not be ‘politically correct’. I recall, decades back, looking for your articles in the Toronto Sun. Your journalistic career has likely suffered for your outspoken ‘truths’. I was unaware of the McClatchy chain and Christian Science Monitor’s position.

    • “…less work to undertake investigative reporting.” should read, “less work not to undertake investigative reporting.” Cerebral flatus strikes again.

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