Ten years on from the occupation, the Iraqi people are still divided and preoccupied with searching for a way out of their national disaster. The Americans, for their part, are also confused and divided and unable to agree on a way out from their own financial and economic crises. Wolfowitz’s role in the Iraqi invasion is well-known, and although he has finally taken the decision to break his silence on this, this is not admit failure or defeat or apologize to the Iraqi people, nor is this provide solutions to problems that have only escalated following the US invasion. He broke his silence to repeat the same old claims that have been completely disproven, according to the admissions of the US administration itself. Wolfowitz broke his silence to defend a decision that everybody is now convinced was catastrophic, not just to Iraq, but to the region and world.
Simply put, Wolfowitz has failed to learn any lessons, although the US seems to have done so after it was shown that the invasion’s human, financial, and strategic costs were far greater than anybody could have predicted.
In this article, Wolfowitz fails to admit his abject failure in spite of his admission of the exorbitant cost of the war, which exceeded USD 2 trillion, not to mention a death toll of almost 5,000 American soliders, while more than 30,000 were injured, not to mention a similar number of soldiers who suffered post-war psychological disorders.
Furthermore, Wolfowitz seems indifferent to Washington’s increasing international isolationism as a result of its strategic losses, which are arguably unprecedented. This can be seen in America’s decreasing presence on the international scene, becoming more and more cautious of using military force as part of its foreign policy. This was also clear in President Barack Obama’s famous speech where he said: “I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests.”
The US has become increasingly devoted to its domestic financial problems which have only escalated in light of the astronomical cost of invading Iraq. As a result, the challenges facing the US in different parts of the world have intensified, and its traditional rivals have been encouraged to expand at the expense of US influence. This new state of affairs has also encouraged opponents of the US to adopt hard-line positions, as seen most recently in Pyongyang.
Nobody expects Paul Wolfowitz to apologize to the Iraqi people at this point, but it seems inconsistent and absurd that he refused to offer his apology to the families of US military personnel who lost their lives, or to the American taxpayer.
Anyone who reads Wolfowitz’s article would emerge with the impression that the invasion fulfilled its objectives by overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime. Yet, he neglects the fact that the US invasion did not target the Saddam regime alone—whether we supported or opposed this—but also targeted Iraq as a state and the Iraqi people as a nation. This transformed Iraq from a state that enjoyed complete sovereignty to one that enjoys an inferior version of this, while now the country is divided and suffering numerous unprecedented problems such as sectarianism, violence, terrorism, mismanagement, foreign influence, and more.
It is absurd that Wolfowitz wants the Iraqi people to wait for 60 more years until the anticipated positive impact of the invasion can come to pass. In this context, he is citing South Korea as an example, but at the same time, he seems to turn a blind eye to the systematic deterioration in the quality of life of the Iraqi people over the past decade. Many respected international organizations view Iraq as being among the world’s most deprived countries, lacking security and stability, while suffering from widespread corruption, division, and backwardness. Under such conditions, and at a time when public life in Iraq is suffering systematic deterioration, how can the Iraqi people fulfill their hopes and desires?
The relationship between Iraq and Iran is not one of “closeness”, as described by Wolfowitz. Rather this is a transformation of what was once termed transforming the ‘liberation” of Iraq into the “occupation of Iraq by Iran.” As part of this latter project, Iraq was stripped off its sovereignty becoming a source of unprecedented ill-will to America’s closest allies in the region, particularly those in the Gulf. Even regarding this particular issue, Wolfowitz persists in pointing the finger at Arabs, while not mentioning any secret agreements that may have been concluded in dark rooms between the Great Satan (the US) and the “axis of evil” (Iran, Iraq and North Korea).
A public opinion poll conducted in 2004 showed that 55% of the Iraqis anticipated that they would enjoy better conditions in the future. However, in 2013, nearly 56% of respondents said they expected their conditions to deteriorate in the future, adding that the situation was better under the former regime. This poll also revealed that 89% of Iraqis believe that government institutions are corrupt, while 60% did not describe their country as democratic. In addition to this, 86% of those asked acknowledged that the Iraqi people are divided. The poll also demonstrated that 75% of Iraqis identify themselves along ideological lines, compared to just 25% in 2004.
I would like Wolfowitz to look at these statistics and then say whether Iraq has progressed, or whether the country is witnessing a retreat in all fields.
The latter is the prevalent feeling amongst the Iraqi people particularly following a death toll of at least 1.1 million, while hundreds of thousands have been injured. This is not to mention five million Iraqis being displaced, both domestically and abroad. In light of all this, how can we expect a more secure and stable Iraq to emerge in the future?
In fact, Wolfowitz’s article incorporated a number of sophisms such as that “the US should not be sorry about the ‘failure’ to install a new dictator in Iraq to restore the old false stability.” In this case, how does Wolfowitz view Al-Maliki—in power since 2006—particularly after he ended the peaceful transfer of power in favor of a policy of seizing and remaining in power. Wolfowitz’s second sophism could be seen in claiming that were Saddam still in power today, he would likely be assisting Assad. Wolfowitz seems to be ignorant of what Nuri Al-Maliki has done, and continues to do, in coordinating with the velayat-e faqih in terms of assisting and supporting Bashar Al-Assad with finance, arms, and war materials.
Furthermore, it was strange that Wolfowitz completely neglected to mention the million man marches that took place in Ramadi, Samarra, Fallujah, Mosul, Kirkuk, Baghdad, and elsewhere, demanding the ouster of Maliki and condemning his rule. This rule has overseen an unfortunate period of injustice, marginalization, exclusion and unprecedented persecution of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs.
Finally, the only thing that saddens me today is the conditions which my country and people find themselves in; nor am I biased against any party. Had the US fulfilled its promise to the Iraqi people during the 2003 invasion, I would have been eternally thankful, but the ultimate result is truly a crime against humanity.
Paul Wolfowitz’s article can be read here.