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It’s always the right time to call George W. Bush a war criminal

If George W. Bush is not going to stand trial for war crimes, he should at the very least stop appearing in public to weigh in on unjustified wars, as he did this week when he accidentally referred to the “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.”
 
by Chip Gibbons 
 
Part 2 - Pining for War
 
The 2003 US invasion of Iraq was murderous. It was a massive assault on an already devastated nation. According to the United Nations, the 1991 bombing of Iraq under President George H. W. Bush was “near apocalyptic” and brought the country “to a pre-industrial age.” US sanctions, which President Bill Clinton kept in place, not only prevented Iraq from rebuilding but led to mass death of Iraqi children. And by the end of Clinton’s term, the US was bombing Iraq once every three days. One of Bush’s first acts in office (a full two years before the Iraq War) was to dramatically escalate this bombing.

From the perspective of Iraqi citizens who had lived under consistent US bombing for over a decade, the US was already waging war on them. But Bush’s Iraq War officially began on March 20, 2003. The opening salvo, “Shock and Awe,” was the brutal aerial bombardment of a largely powerless nation by the world’s sole remaining superpower. The long-term occupation of Iraq, documented by US soldiers who turned against the war, required high levels of lethality.

The US has never truly dealt with the death toll of this war. The total number of casualties has unsurprisingly been a contentious subject. As media watchdog FAIR repeatedly pointed out, the US media has worked to obscure the truth about how many Iraqis died. The Iraq Body Count project puts the total number of deaths at 288,000. Peer-reviewed studies in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, and PLOS Medicine put the total number of dead at 151,000, 650,000, and 461,000, respectively. British polling agency ORB put the death count at 1.2 million.

Whichever death count you use, it’s monstrous. And what was all this killing done for? Bush’s two cited reasons for the invasion, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein was connected to the attacks of September 11, 2001, were lies. Bush’s connection of 9/11 to Iraq was perhaps the deadliest conspiracy theory, fake news, or disinformation of the twenty-first century.

The truth is, Bush and his crew wanted war. A series of leaked British memos prepared by UK prime minister Tony Blair’s staff gives insight into Bush’s drive for war. In minutes from a June 2002 meeting between Blair and senior government officials known as “The Downing Street Memo,” the MI6 chief Richard Dearlove states bluntly, “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

The foreign minister similarly relayed, “It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.

Another leaked memo, this one recording a January 2003 meeting between Bush and Blair, documents how they discussed potential ways to provoke Saddam and create a justification for war. One idea was a proposed plot to paint a US reconnaissance plane in United Nations colors in hopes the Iraqi government would shoot it down.

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