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Impacts, Justification and Legitimacy of the U.S Invasion of Iraq Essay

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Updated: Aug 9th, 2019


The United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 came at a time when the war on terrorism was at its peak. After the events of the September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration vowed to combat all acts of terror within and outside U.S borders.

While this initiative was highly applauded by the international community and especially the member countries which had suffered huge humanitarian losses in the hands of terror suspects, the plan to ouster Saddam Hussein from power as part of curbing the spread of terrorism was not received kindly from some quarters.

The historical account of the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein in the run up to the 2003 attack by United States has been discussed in this essay. Furthermore, the real impacts of the war as occasioned by U.S foreign policy on Iraq have been deliberated in detail.

The unipolar nature of the 2003 attack on Iraq has also been used as the springboard in dissecting the role played by United Nations Security Council before and during the attack.

While the outcome of the war was visibly felt far and wide, the essay attempts to critically evaluate how Americans and the people of Iraq were negatively impacted by the unstable relations between the two countries. Finally, the justification of the war as well as its legitimacy has been incorporated in this theoretical research study.

Background and synopsis of poor rule in Iraq

Iraq has faced challenges like the long history of authoritarian rule and the crushing of democracy, the rivalry between Sunni and Shia, separatist claims of the Kurds and the demands of the Turkmen coupled with foreign interference like in the case of 2003 invasion by United States and its allies. The contemporary history of Iraq commenced immediately after the breakup of the old Ottoman Empire.

In the campaigns against the Central powers the British military invaded Iraq and was initially defeated by Turkey. Thereafter, the British troupes regrouped and later captured Baghdad. Later, an agreement was signed by the British and French that led to the carving out of Iraq from Ottoman Empire.

The agreement became conclusive in May 1916. In 1920, the carved out territory came under the control of the British with the name “State of Iraq” (Wollack, 2010, p.22).

When the British established the Hashemite monarchy in the new territory it did not take into consideration the politics of different religious as well as ethnic groups. This offered a chance for the Kurds and the Shiites to begin fighting for independence. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom initially established two regions which were Basra region and Baghdad region, but later the two were merged.

In 1932, Britain granted Iraq independence; however, the British still hung on to the armed forces bases and also the privileges of transfer for the British military powers. There were subsequent wars and conflicts in Iraq, even after independence had been granted.

The 1941 coup d’état saw the ousting from power of Abd al-llah who was the president at that time. The military wing soon took over the custody of the country. The Hashemite monarchy which was brought back thereafter operated up and until 1958. Another coup took place and the monarchy was sent packing by the Iraqi troops (Wollack, 2010, p.23). A series of forceful power take over followed later that is in 1966 and 1968.

During these undemocratic power changes, the military was the decider of which political party was the next head of government. Therefore, bloody conflicts between political parties were the most visible type of conflicts in the Iraqi political arena (Stimson, 2010, pp.63-64).

Since the establishment of the Kingdom of Iraq at the beginning of the twentieth century, successive governments played the role of authoritarian suppressor rather than as mediator of governance in a multi-ethnic and religious country.

The use of assassinations and executions were the usual tools rather than negotiations in Iraq’s politics (Rex, 2011, p.97). Such politics became rather a political culture where Iraq could only be ruled through a strong central government with very limited rights to minorities.

This was the case until April 2003, when the United States leading the “Coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam’s Baath regime. The United Sates promised the Iraqi people and the whole region of Middle East of new democratic era (Wollack, 2010, p.24).

The Ba’ath Party had been ruling Iraq for a considerable length of time before the decline of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Nevertheless, in the post-Saddam era, the state of Iraq went into a political transition, struggling with the collective challenges of instituting structures of governance and allocating power within the institutions of the country.

Such tasks proved to be difficult since the majority of the state institutions were not functioning due to thirty years of iron fist rule of the Ba’ath party. It is more than seven years since the US assault on the state of Iraq, and vigorous debates about the future of Iraq continue in every level of society (Wilbanks & Karsh, 2010, pp. 65-70).

Most internal critics believe that a great deal of the instability within Iraq over the past seven years is due to struggles between the different political, sectarian and ethnic groups that constitute Iraq’s population rather than the ousting of President Saddam Hussein from power. Foreign interference was also visible on the grounds where neighbouring countries supported certain sectors or ethnic groups over another.

However, Iraq has at all times been culturally and religiously varied and has historically allowed minority communities to co-exist in agreement with the majority of the populace (Osborn, 2011, p. 13). Nonetheless, both the past and current regimes have been full of dispute and violence between the different factions leading to what the Bush administration perceived as the source of terrorism.

When Iraq was attacked by United States, opponents of Iraq that expected to gain the support of the USA termed it a wrong war and never approved of it; this was because the opponents were against the liberation of Iraq. The coalition that joined forces with USA in liberating Iraq initially comprised of 49 nations.

After the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein, the US supported the establishment of democracy under a new constitution. While the Bush administration strongly believed that Saddam Hussein was harbouring Weapons of Mass Destruction that could be potentially used to perpetrate acts of terrorism, the opponents of the 2003 invasion, and especially those drawn from the Middle East were firmly convinced that the then US government was largely after controlling oil resources in Iraq.

Nonetheless, it is also imperative to note that much of the conflict being witnessed up to date may not necessarily be the aftermath of 2003 war (Jacobson, 2010, pp.586-588). There are internal differences in perceptions and sectarian tensions.

Two options exist so far; creation of a strong central government focused on keeping the country politically unified or allowing a decentralized power structure in which minority groups are granted political self rule in parts of Iraq (Polk, 2006, pp.95-100).

The latter solution was guaranteed by the 2005 Iraqi constitution but left without mentioning the mechanism of establishing such federation system which has triggered a territory disputes and serious claims by political powers over oil rich cities such as Kirkuk.

The oil debate

The justifications of the 2003 war on Iraq by the Bush Administration did not single out ‘oil interests’ as one of the reasons for the attack. Definitely, the American public and the world at large could not have expected such a rationale to be put forward. Nonetheless, critics of the Bush Administration reiterated that the latter had some underneath agenda on the oil resources found in Iraq (Bremer, 2006, p.47).

An earlier blue print by the neo-conservative group known as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) emphasized the dire need for the United States government to restore its 20th century superpower image and global domination.

Indeed, the acquisition of Iraq oil resources through indirect control was thought as one way of not only advancing U.S foreign policy in Middle East, but also a way of building a robust U.S economy through cheap or ‘near-free’ imports of crude oil from Iraq.

In addition, the U.S pre-eminence in global affairs in an attempt to derail efforts by upcoming superpowers like Japan and China was also evident in the PNAC document. This would best be achieved by remodeling the international security order to be in line with the United States foreign policies and domestic principles (Arnove, 2007, p.81).

Hence, it can be observed that although oil factor was at the center of the debate for Iraq war, the Bush Administration, similar to previous regimes, was also propelling the U.S primacy ideals, perhaps an effort to make the country a self-appointed international watchdog for ‘rogue’ members of the world like Iraq under President Saddam Hussein.

According to the report, it was necessary for the new ‘American grand strategy’ on foreign policies to be rigorously pushed into posterity. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the report had already pointed out the need for the succeeding U.S governments to continually pursue a mission of fighting, and winning multiple wars as part and parcel of stamping its authority on the world.

This further exemplifies that the core mission of Iraq war was not necessarily after the oil resources; the Bush Administration was largely pursuing a long term supremacy goal that has been an agenda since the post World War II era.

Another astounding revelation from the PNAC document is that the plans to ouster Saddam Hussein from power was already in place long before September 11 attacks in New York and Washington. It was also revealed that George Bush and his administration to be agenda to topple Saddam’s government was pre-eminent long before Bush stepped into White House.

On the other hand, the then Vice President Dick Cheney proclaimed that Iraq remained to be a major factor in the instability experienced in the international oil market. Therefore, tackling the energy challenge in United States would only be possible if Iraq regime was toppled.

One of the other key fears posed by United States was that Saddam Hussein was an architect in using oil resources in his country not only as lethal weapon to economically jeopardize his opponents but also as a tool of advancing his illicit motives on terrorism. This, according to the Bush government, would threaten both international peace and global economy bearing in mind that oil is a major resource needed in energy security.

At some point, these allegations by United States government under President Bush were considered by some sections of the veto members of the United Nations Security Council as ‘selfish’ and were not adequate enough to warrant any war on Iraq. It should also be noted that the UN Charter on international peace was presumable ignored by United States even as it proceeded to attack Iraq (Anderson & Stansfleld, 2004)

The blame game

The 2003 war on Iraq may have been bitterly criticized by the opponents of the Bush Administration although it was apparently the best tool to apply for that desperate moment. In a more objective manner though, it is worth to recall that the totalitarian Iraq regime under Saddam Hussein was never a darling even to the Iraqi citizens themselves (Marshall, 2010, pp.32-33).

As discussed in the next section of this essay, it is profound to note that Saddam Hussein went in record as one of the most inhuman leaders who rarely acted as the custodian of his people.

For example, the humanitarian crisis brought about by war and refugee problem in Iraq is just one outstanding example to reckon with. As much as the country was and is still a major producer of oil, its citizens presumably lived in squalor conditions with only a handful of his cronies sharing the national cake.

It is also well understood that before the onset of the war, several United Nations Security Council resolutions were passed in a bid to restrain Saddam from demonstrating his war-like ability. Most of the resolutions passed were in the interest of peace and global security.

Although Saddam consistently denied to be harboring Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), one of the fears that gripped the world at this time was mainly to do with his (Saddam’s) close working relationship with the Islamic insurgents in Iraq who were also doubling up as terror gangs.

He was regularly in hostile terms with his neighbors in the Middle East region, a phenomenon that jeopardized his relationship with the entire global community (Rex, 2011). Indeed, if such actions by Saddam were anything to go by, then the attack by United States, in spite of the consequences, was highly justified.

Similarly, the United States had quite often pointed out Middle East as the origin of global terrorism. Such utterances were more pronounced during the Bush Administration. Although Barrack Obama also promised to deal firmly with terrorism when he ascended to presidency, he has quite often reiterated that the war on terrorism has little or nothing to do with Islam (Stimson, 2010, p.63).

In fact, whether Islamic religion is one and the same thing as terrorism or a operating on a clean slate has remained debatable over time with the targeted groups such as Al Qaeda and Jihadist movement arguing that they are merely fighting for their rights or protecting their religious beliefs and practices.

Justification of the Iraq War

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in United Sates, the Bush administration was strongly convinced that the Iraq, under the autocratic rule of President Saddam Hussein, was the main ground where terrorism bred from (Doucot, 2010, pp. 38-39). Hence, prior to the war, Bush had more than sufficient justifications was put in place immediately after September 11, 2001 and roughly a year later.

In spite of the fact that Osama Bin Laden, the purported ring leader of Al Qaeda, was the main suspect, the focus was switched to Saddam Hussein. Surprisingly, Saddam was accused shortly after the 9/11 incidence. All the same, the world was left in a state of confusion with the shifting sands of rationales why the Bush administration attacked Iraq.

Some critics of the Bush administration even commented that the United States military troops may have as well caused terrorism in Iraq rather than preventing it. The fact that Saddam Hussein was not found with Weapons of Mass Destruction did not deter U.S from gathering other reasons (Fawn & Hinnebusch, 2006, p.56).

To begin with, the justification of the war in 2003 was that the Al Qaeda terror wing had close links and associations with Iraq while the latter was an architect in the manufacture of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

For the American public, these were enough grounds for going into the war to fight terrorism bearing in mind that the 9/11 incidence left a bitter taste and experience not only on the victims but also to the United States economy at large.

The 2003 justifications prior to the war were strong enough, making the public and several U.S allies to support the Iraq mission. Some of the reasons put forward by United States before launching an attack on Iraq included but not limited to:

  • Protracted history of authoritarian rule by Saddam Hussein
  • Harbouring of Islamic insurgents in Iraq by Saddam who later turned out to be terrorists
  • The inability of Baghdad government to uproot the spread of terrorism in the Middle East Country
  • Saddam’s defiance of UN resolutions on international peace and security
  • Alleged involvement with Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and therefore a potential threat to international peace and security.

To begin with, the Bush administration asserted that the architect of September 11 attacks and Al Qaeda had very powerful connections with the then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (Bose, 2010, p.86). Such links were thought to be potential enough to breed and spread acts of terror far and wide.

Additionally, terrorists might have accessed some of the Weapons of Mass Destruction that were purportedly being manufactured by Saddam Hussein. Hence, it was only wise to bring down the reign of Saddam Hussein as the best way of curtailing the growth and spread of terrorism.

On the same note, the mysterious death of Abu Nidal way back in 2002 in Iraqi capital raised eyebrows on how certain terror organizations had thrived so well in Iraq under the protection of Saddam’s government. Unfortunately, it was quite cumbersome to substantiate these claims upon the onset of the war, which could not be stopped at that critical time.

In an interesting twist of events, the period between 2003 and 2005 was laced with a new set of justifications. Foreign terrorists were believed to be the key insurgents in the 9/11 attacks. The Jihadist movement attached to Islam was accused of having launched the 2003 terror attacks against U.S occupation.

Although this movement was not directly linked with Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration emphasized that it originated from neighbouring countries to Iraq such as the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Syria.

The fact they were both neighbours to Iraq was enough grounds to say that the jihadist movement might have as well spread to Iraq (Marshall, 2010, pp. 32-33). For instance, the Sunni insurgency that was being led by Musab Al Zarqawi was believed by U.S to be a major threat to peace and security. No wonder, he was later assassinated by US.

The Iraqi insurgents were largely perceived by the United States government to be a real threat to peace in the sense that Saddam Hussein was apparently condoning their activities which were all linked to acts of terror. The insurgency that was fast infiltrating in Iraqi capital could not be conclusively established.

Even if that was possible, it could equally be close to impossible to ascertain whether these insurgents were really responsible for acts of terrorism especially on the international platform. Some critics of the Bush administration argued that the U.S acts of terror were home-grown and that targeting the Middle East bloc was an exercise in futility (Bose, 2010, p.861).

Further, critics have reiterated that the U.S foreign policy on security matters and other jurisdictions is the major reason why violence has escalated over the years. Towards the close of 2006, the U.S-Iraq affair on the fight against terrorism had developed into a rather tricky affair bearing in mind that the Iraq factor was a top priority agenda in the war against terrorism with or without the said justifications.

According to the argument put forward by Anderson (2010), the Bush administration was firmly adamant that the war on terrorism would not leave out the Iraq factor while at the same time; the military troops were well convinced that everything had culminated into a civil war between the two factions of Muslims namely the Sunni and Shiite.

Before the elections in 2006, both the Republicans and Democrats were heavily divided on the question of withdrawing U.S troops from Iraq.

According to Democrats, the security situation in Iraq was as a result of the civil war between the struggling factions while the Republicans maintained that there were extremely bad insurgents in Iraq which the United States was determined to fight as a way of destroying the growth and spread of terrorism (Anderson, 2010, p.180).

The Jihadist movement was also linked with the Iraqi war in the sense that the latter was fuelling the former. This was in a quick rejoinder by the Democrats who had earlier asserted that the civil war’ in Iraq had nothing to do with acts of terrorism in United States.

At the start of 2007, there were no viable grounds to justify the war on Iraq. Both the Republicans and Democrats were silent about the Iraq affair and could not provide further direction on the issue.

Later on, Bush emphasized that the fight against acts of terror could only be won if Iraq was thoroughly combed of all internal insurgents (Clarke, 2004, p.49). This position was evident when President Bush gave speeches on the State of the Union address and Iraq policy. Both of these speeches resonated government’s effort and position on the war against Iraq (Dodge, 2006).

As the year moved on, Iran was also implicated in the spread of terrorism since it was using Iraq as the launch pad for acts of terror. As a terror front, the Bush administration was emphatic that Iraq would be the best ground to initiate war on terrorism, and that terrorism was being sponsored by the neighbouring Iran (Stieber, 2010, p.31).

The intelligence politics of United States under Bush administration also played a key role in fuelling the Iraq crisis. The motives of the White House for heavily criticized on the basis that the alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) were not found even after the war. It is also highly likely that the White House intelligence was to a large extent abused.

In fact, the second term of George W. Bush was negatively impacted following the polarization of Washington. For Bush, the second term was a murky affair bearing in mind that he failed to gather solid support from both divides, namely the Republicans and Democrats (Cockburn & Patrick, 2002, pp.106-108).

Legitimacy of the Iraq war

The legitimacy of the war on Iraq has been debated far and wide with some arguing that the invasion was legitimate under United Nations Security Council resolution no. 616.

On the contrary, some critics have posed that in spite of the so-called legitimacy, the 2003 invasion of Iraq would have been prevented if not avoided completely, adding that Iraq was and is still an independent and sovereign state that deserves dignity in running its own affairs.

Similarly, personalities and individual countries that were opposed to the war resonated that the attack was a gross violation of international law and that the United States was merely after pushing forward its unpopular and inhuman foreign policies.

Prior to the onset of the war, quite a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions were passed. Besides, the Congressional Joint Resolution 114 was also in place in justifying and assessing whether the war was really legitimate. For instance, there were two main resolutions passed by United Nations namely Resolutions 678 and 1441(Wollack, 2010, p.23).

These resolutions gave a go ahead for United States under President Bush, to invade Iraq. Nonetheless, those who argued on the contrary clearly asserted that the very resolutions passed by the Security Council were not applied in totality as per the requirements. For example, both resolutions have prescribed conditions that ought to be fulfilled before any war can be initiated.

Moreover, an ‘aggressor’ can only be forcibly attacked in the event that its actions may potentially jeopardize peace. Unlike the 2003 war, there were no acts of militarism that would be considered to endanger peaceful co-existence within and beyond borders of Iraq (Duffy, 2005, p.112).

Although the United Nations Security Council was supposedly responsible in endorsing the war, there were other key determinants worth considering before United States could go ahead with its intended plan. Resolution 678 of the Security Council, according to the Bush Administration, endorsed the 2003 invasion.

Hence, this provided a strong basis for United States to launch a attack on Iraq, having accused the latter as not only a thriving ground for terrorism, but also supporting internal insurgents through the manufacture of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Additionally, the then United States government argued that no single international law was infringed.

It is only articles 39-42 of the United Nations Charter that can be expressly used to justify war on any real or perceived international aggressor.

While Resolution 660 was implemented by the United Nations member states, and especially United States, little has been debated so far on Resolution 678 that was instrumental in starting the war. Hence, it is a quite a challenge to determine or establish the legal jurisdiction used by the Bush administration in attacking Iraq.

Shortly before the war in 2003, the Security Council held a short meeting to deliberate on the involved legal claims. While the council was to finalize and give out its verdict on the Iraq question, the United States and its allies went ahead and initiated the attack. In unclear circumstances though, the U.N Security Council has not met since 2003 to revisit and review the matter.

Nonetheless, the U.S ignorance of the U.N resolution on the Iraqi may have been prompted by the French veto since the latter U.N member has a veto power. As public debate on the legitimacy of Iraq war continues, Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations also added his voice to the public opinion, lamenting that Iraq invasion was done in bad faith since the UN charter was not followed to the letter.

Saddam’s record

The legitimacy of the Iraq war with United States was also widely supported by poor Saddam’s track record of political leadership. The region suffered greatly due to security lapse created and worsened President Saddam Hussein. He attached least importance to peace in Iraq.

For instance, the Iraq-Iran war fought between 1980 and 1988 was a landmark experience to the international community that Saddam Hussein was not a caretaker of peace at all costs. It is interesting to learn that Baghdad was supported by White House during the eight-year long war, a political friendship that went on the rocks after a short while.

The events before the Iraq-Iran war were not anything to go by (Duffy, 2005, p.109). However, it was reported that Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) were used by Saddam in attacking the enemy. Apart from attacking innocent civilians, the very WMDs were used in at least ten different occasions (Jacobson, 2010, p.610).

Two years later after winding up the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein went into loggerheads with Kuwait. The 1990 Gulf War left a bitter taste in the mouth of civilians and the neighbouring countries largely due to displacement of civilians both internally and externally. Both Kuwait and Iraq suffered heavy political and economic losses.

Having set an undesirable track record in political leadership, the United Nations Security Council enacted and directed not less than sixteen peaceful resolutions to conflict. Nonetheless, the period between 1990 and 2002 was marked with gross violation of these resolutions.

The regime officials who were interviewed by Iraq Survey Group confirmed that special scientists dealing with research and manufacture of WMDs were being taken care of by President Saddam Hussein. The officials also claimed that the nuclear and other WMD program that Saddam had already started was in the course of being revived. Although weapons inspectors received an audit report from Saddam, it was alleged to be untrue.

In spite of the fact that this was the last opportunity for Saddam to comply with the United Nations Security Resolution 1441, he failed to do so justifying every reason to be invaded for the interest of international peace and security.

The period when the Gulf War was on-going also demonstrated Saddam’s non-committal tendency towards peace. For example, an unprecedented scale of foreign civilians was taken hostage by his regime.

Additionally, President Bush Senior administration also faced terror threats from Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf War era. These were bad records set by President Saddam Hussein, a phenomenon that would only worsen international relations in years to come.

Saddam Hussein was also historically known to be a silent crusader of terrorists especially in the proxy Palestine neighbour. The main reason why he probably supported unilateral attacks against his neighbours in form of terrorism was the sour relationship that had hitherto existed between the two warring parties namely Iraq and Palestine.

He was alleged to be giving out financial incentives especially to suicide bombers and their families. He was also purportedly hosting terror groups who had sought refuge from nearby home countries.

Undoubtedly, these were serious claims against the Iraqi President since he was made to appear as a threat to peace not just within the Gulf region per se, but also internationally and across continents. In a nutshell, Saddam’s human rights record was not impressive not just within the face of Iraqi citizens but also in the eyes of the wider international community.

The Kirkuk factor

While the first phase of Kirkuk history was mainly dominated by tye fight for independence, supremacy and control over the oil-rich region, the second phase was mainly donned with modern history which started during the control of the Baath regime in Iraq(Duffy, 2005, p.76).

Through the rule of the Baath regime the city of Kirkuk went through a series of both socio-economic and political turmoil with a bid for the Baghdad government to have total control of the oil field in Kirkuk. The first ever attempt which marked the Kurdish history that the current Kurdish political leaders referred to in their claim over the city, was made by Saddam Hussein to gain control of Kirkuk.

A major initiative by the Baath regime was the encouragement the Arab population to move into the region. This was known as Arabization policy. The programwas meant to enable Arabs sympathetic to the Saddam regime control the city and the region around it(Anderson, 2010, p.180). In achieving this program, Saddam’s regime forced out the original inhabitants of Kirkuk to other designated locations.

Moreover, the government implemented some amendments on the registration procedures to ensure that Kirkuk remained under the control of Saddam Hussein. This actually followed the policy of Arabisation of the city which, amongst other things, demanded that only Iraqis of Arab origin could register as the natives of the city. Subsequent registrations were to be done on the basis of different ethnic groups.

The worst affected group was the Kurdish people. In a relentless effort however, the Kurdish people maintained that Kirkuk was their cultural identity, an assertion that led to incessant wrangles and disputes between the Kurds and the Saddam’s totalitarian government.

Kirkuk city was equally devastated in terms of the huge Kurdish population which was a hitherto moved to the Kurdish regions in neighbouring Iran.

As a result, constant wrangles persisted between the Saddam’s government and the Kurds on the ownership of this oil-rich region.

One of the worst attacks which took place in Kirkuk targeting the adamant Kurdish people was witnessed way back in the late 70s and early 80s soon after President Saddam Hussein had declared himself the ruler of Iraq. Over three thousand Kurdish settlements were pulled down by the Iraqi forces. This destruction was not a onetime event but it persisted throughout the reign of Saddam Hussein.

A consequence of the second phase particularly the Arabization policy have created an ethnic group and added more complexity to Kirkuk’s modern history.

Arabs who moved to the city encouraged by the incentives given by Saddam’s regime have also claimed ownership over the city and denied any wrong doing; nonetheless, Most of the properties given to Arabs belong to deported Kurds. Tension was raised when the deported Kurds moved back to city and demanded a return of their confiscated properties in 2003.

Saddam Hussein’s cousin Ali Hasan Al-Majeed carried out the Al-Anfal Campaign in 1988. This campaign aimed at capturing and massacring all the able-bodied men between the ages of 15 and 70. Both the Shia south and the Kurdish north were attacked and crushed by forces allied to Saddam’s government.

In an attempt to cool down the rising tempers from both the north and south, close to 100,000 Shiites and Kurds were executed. However, this did not calm down the situation. It only triggered more violent attacks and anti-government campaigns.

One of the worst social ills perpetrated by Saddam’s regime was the indoctrination of minors into the military. The joint report released by International Federation of Human rights League documented how Saddam Hussein used children as young as five years in carrying out his war mission. These children were segregated from their families and taken through forceful training.

When Dick Cheney, the then United States Vice President was interviewed (2006), he reiterated that Iraq would have been invaded even if intelligence reports could not reveal any WMDs (Anderson, 2010, pp.180-181).

He emphasized that Saddam Hussein had a dark history of either sympathizing with terrorists or using Weapons of Mass Destruction among other human rights violation. Hence, being ousted from power was an initial integral step in fighting terrorism emanating from Middle East.

The role played by United Nations Security Council

What about the role played by the United Nations in legitimising the U.S invasion of Iraq? There were quite a number of resolutions courtesy of the U.N Security Council that were directed towards Iraq under President Saddam Hussein.

As already mentioned in the earlier part of this literature, one of the dominant resolutions that Saddam Hussein was supposed to adhere to was the inspection of his weaponry base and establish whether he was harbouring WMDs of nuclear, biological or chemical nature. This was resolution 687. However, 13 other resolutions followed later which reaffirmed that the process of inspecting weapons was to continue.

The subsequent resolutions also sought to make sure that Iraq did not flout any of the commands. Notwithstanding the numerous resolutions by the UN Security Council, the cooperation between Iraq and UNSCOM was suspended by the former, an occurrence that was sharply condemned by the Council on 9th September 1998.

Less than one month later, the Baghdad government declared that at no given time will it cooperate with UNSCOM again (Anderson, 2010, p.180). This only worked towards weakening tightening the relationship between Iraq and UNSCOM. Eventually, this would justify legitimise the war against Iraq since the latter had already proved to be adamant enough.

Further declaration of the no-fly-zone by U.N Security Council during the Operation Desert Fox bombing did not sweeten the Iraq-U.N relations that were on the rocks. Rampant shooting of planes flying in the U.N restricted region was ordered by the then vice president of Iraq.

This region was supposed to remain neutral and void of any undue interference by any state. After myriad of pressures from the international community, weapon inspectors were permitted back to Iraq. Nevertheless, some of them were shortly ordered out before the onset of the 2003 invasion.

The genesis of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Saddam is believed to have access to Weapons of Mass Destruction long before the Gulf War broke out. Major western economies namely United Kingdom, United States, France and Germany are alleged to have supplied chemical weapons to Iraq especially during the Iraq-Iran War which was fought for nearly eight years(Stieber, 2010, p.33).

Furthermore, the Kurdish population in Iraq who had been contesting oil resources with the Baghdad government were bombed with the very chemical weapons. These chemical weapons would have been used during the Persian Gulf War but it was reported that the Iraqi military forces could not bear the brunt of the chemicals emitted by these weapons since they did not have adequate protective gear.

Another inhibiting factor was that the open desert was quickly besieged by the U.S forces before Iraqi military could set their attacking base. To date, no tangible evidence on the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction has been detected in this country. The only piece of evidence is the chemical munitions that cannot be used to manufacture WMDs since they have long been degraded and outdated.

The chemical analysis of the degraded samples revealed that they must have been used sometimes back in 1991, directly matching with the earlier hypothesis that use of WMDs was instrumental during the Iraq-Iran war of 1980 to 1988.

Further reports on the WMD claims by White House has it that a former CIA official asserted that even before United States invaded Iraq, the officials knew quite well that the alleged WMDs were non-existent and mere fabrications (Osborn, 2011, p.14).

Such conflicting evidence on the WMDs story is indeed worrying bearing in mind that the impact of the war is still being felt by both countries. Needless to say, the humanitarian crisis in Iraq has not been fully addressed while the United States government under Obama administration is still lagging its feet to withdraw troops from Iraq since their continual existence can only be interpreted to mean no ceasefire to violence.

The position of various states

A total of 49 states threw their weight behind United States endeavour to invade and occupy Iraq. Some of the support provided by these countries included logistical support as well as combat and support troops.

As per the legality of this war, critics of the Bush administration argued that the fact that Iraq violated some of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions did not imply that any country would assume express authority to enforce them on Iraq. According to the U.N Charter on international peace and security, a majority support among the countries with veto power would be required before any aggressor could be invaded.

United States was bitterly accused of applying double standards in its quest to fight terrorism since nuclear weapons exist in such countries like Israel but no tangible action has ever been taken against such ‘faithful violators’.

To some, the United States invasion of Iraq had some hidden agenda. For instance, it is alleged that the Bush administration was probably targeting to exploit oil resources in Iraq at the pretext of WMDs (Polk, 2006, p.95). Perhaps, this may be politically factual bearing in mind that the northern Kirkuk region is rich in oil. Kirkuk is also known for the production of oil and gas for both domestic and industrial use.

Oil and gas production is the heart of Iraq’s economy and a fair distribution of its revenue is essential in the future stability of Iraq government and for the stabilization of its prices and economic activities.

It will solve the problems of inequality in wealth distribution between the federal and regional government in Kurdistan (Stieber, 2010, p.33). Oil exports forms the backbone of Iraq’s economy and revenue distribution. Kirkuk is the city with secured oil reserves.

The U.S invasion of Iraq over the alleged weapons of mass destruction and consequent execution of Saddam Hussein is a vivid example of its foreign policies. There are many advantages that are enjoyed whenever power and supremacy are on board. This is the policy which the United States pursued prior to its engagement in the War. The writer further expounds that power does not guarantee influence all the time.

This is the very reason why US did not get the simple majority support in the Iraq War (Dodge, 2006, pp. 188-190). The nine of fifteen votes could not be reached by the United Nations Security Council to allow this super power stamp its authority in Iraq.

Surprisingly, even those countries who were mostly assisted by US like Chile and Mexico rejected to support it (Burbach & Tarbell, 2004, p.96). Owing to the reason that no country could compare itself with U.S in military and arms race, itwent ahead and attacked Iraq. This was a “foreign policy” that left thousands of innocent Iraqis with dire consequences.

The innocent civilians are yet to come to terms with the humanitarian crisis that followed after the war. What about the U.S allegations that Saddam was harbouring weapons of mass destruction? Indeed, he was later executed on the basis of these claims. The world is still sceptical over what the U.S targeted in this Middle East country.

The US and Iraq today

It is imperative and inevitable to explore the contemporary U.S foreign policy under President Obama in order to evaluate and conclude on the past and modern policy genetic traits (Dodge, 2003, pp.103-105). To begin with, the Obama administration often reiterated that Islam is not a foe and that the war on terrorism has little to do with U.S engagement.

Moreover, the United States need to have a breathless pursuit over nuclear program alongside other issues (Polk, 2006, p.88). There are a myriad of foreign policies as stipulated in the current administrative structure. From the previous analysis however, we wonder why U.S was interested in controlling Saudi Arabia. Was it a strategy to fight terrorism emerging from the Middle East?

But then, is it only U.S facing the threat of terrorism in the contemporary world? Sincerely speaking, underlying interests contrary to the war against terror is evident here. There is a lot to be desired in the manner in which U.S has been handling international.

George W. Bush had become neoconservative by the threshold of his second term. In other words, he opted to embrace new U.S foreign policies that would not only the American public of their security, but that which would also re-energize the fight against terror that leads to humanitarian crisis.

Bush was once quoted to have said that that the U.S military is not meant to build the nation but rather to “fight and win war”. Moreover, his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice added her voice to this matter when she asserted that US troops had not duty escorting children to school (Stimson, 2010). These assertions were coherent enough to brand U.S as non-committed to the path of democracy.

In fact, George W. Bush was more than ready to extend his “war and win” agenda to Iraq. As Fukuyama observes, Bush attempted to ideologically justify a war that would have been prevented. This, according to many of his critics, soiled the political governance of his second term. It is also quite of a surprise if posterity will be western.

For instance, China is a real threat and big challenger to US. With a population four times that of U.S, China boasts of an uninterrupted human resource supply even as it plans to expand its economic boundaries to the western world.

Meanwhile, as the United States is attempting to mould a new world order, its political allies are keenly watching the episodes. Nevertheless, both the American and European civilizations have managed to remain strong in terms of influencing world policies.

To a larger extent, this has been triggered by U.S aggressions policy to remain politically, economically and socially strong. The early beginning of 21st century has witnessed American leadership transgressing in international affairs culminating to conflicts (Callinicos, 2003, p. 72).

Impacts of the war

One of the impacts of the U.S invasion of Iraq was that the politics of intelligence took centre stage with some questioning the legitimacy of the war (Callinicos, 2003, p. 64).

In some way, the Iraq war is blamed on the inability by most Arab countries (particularly Iraq) to modernize their states and restrain the rampant invasion by the Western world. For most of them, dependency theory has been the common experience, by letting the west set both the economic and political agenda for them.

Both the radical Islam and policy making by United Sates towards Iraq has been identified by scholars as major impacts after the 2003 invasion. Internal insurgency increased rapidly following the aftermath of the war with several Islamist factions seeking autonomy and control over some critical affairs.

The debate whether the invasion of Iraq by United States really liberated women or not has also been on-going for sometimes now. According to Bremer (2006, pp. 38-45), women’s rights has been severely damaged since the end of Iraq war with U.S. for instance, both infrastructure and basic needs were spoilt owing to deployment of violent campaigns.

In addition, most of the women’s movement were demobilised following erosion of political institutions that were handy in propelling their specific needs. Moreover, the original Iraq economic culture that inherently supported women is no longer there, a phenomenon that can only be explained by the ravaging 2003 attack (Jeremy & Brendan, 2005, p.63).

Even with the reforms being carried out among the Iraqi institutions and political structures, the impact of the war can still be felt. For example, reforms like those targeting the unpopular policies of the Bath party have not been effective. In fact, the interests of women on the national platform are believed to have been impeded by these poor reforms.

The welfare and healthcare frameworks that address women’s concerns are not on track as well. Before the onset of the war in with a bid to fight terrorism in the Middle East country, women groups and their individual family dependants were well bound and taken care of by some well established healthcare groups in spite of the dictatorial rule of the Saddam regime.

However, women no longer have the liberty to work freely in a peaceful environment owing to the fact that the U.S occupation of Iraq has elevated violence to an extent that some of them cannot leave their places of residence at all (Wollack, 2010, p.24).

Months before the Bush administration launched a scathing attack on Iraq, some humanitarian organisations had warned the government of the likelihood of humanitarian crisis should the U.S go ahead with its intended plan (Stimson, 2010, pp.63-64) The fact that these warnings were not taken seriously by the Bush regime led to an estimated of 2.7 million refugees, all of them internally displaced as they seek safety and security.

The worst part of it was that no prior preparations were made to take care of the aftermath of the war. Worse still, yet another two million were externally displaced. This accounted for about fifteen percent of the entire population, either internally or externally displaced due to the raging conflict and subsequent lack of control by the government (Sky, 2011, pp.120-121).

The refugee problem has extended far and beyond any ordinary imagination. Apart from being a major agent of social stratification, brain drain due to massive exodus of scholars to other secure locations has jeopardized major state functions since there are few professionals deployed in the country in important sectors such as education and health.

The refugee crisis has also spilled over to the neighbouring nations like Syria and Jordan. Although the challenge is enormous, the host countries are accepting the exiles on the basis that peace will eventually be a reality. Additionally, the similarities that exist between Iraqi refugees and neighbouring states such as the linguistic environment and socio-cultural patterns has also made it possible to accept the displaced.

One of the currently glaring challenges facing the state of Iraq is the high rate of unemployment. Systems and structures which used to exist are no longer functional. As a result, women have been exploited, sexual abuse on the rampant as well as domestic violence(Callinicos, 2003, p. 54).

On the same note, formal education is a pipe dream for Iraqi children. The worst fear is that they risk being deported back to their home country should they avail their personal legitimate details needed for registering for a formal education.

Children who have not been enrolled in formal schooling system are also victims of bullying. As it stands since the invasion of Iraq, less than 25% of Iraq children are receiving formal education(Bose, 2011, p.215). Apparently, a significant number of them are living in dilapidated conditions since they can hardly afford associated costs in education.

A case study of Iraqi refugees in Syria reveals a more pathetic situation for the worst hit victims. For instance, they are frequently compelled to sell part of the food rations donated by international food agencies so that they can cater for living expenses such as payment of rent.

While countless doctors have sought refuge in other countries, there are Iraqi refugees who have reportedly developed mental and other psychological problems resulting from continual stress, trauma and depression. The mental health challenege is fast growing in a country that has been ravaged by both international conflicts and internal aggressions.

At present, about 17% of the displaced Iraqis are suffering or are at the verge of developing psychological disorders (Callinicos, 2003, p. 53). The appalling condition of Iraqi refuges seems to have not moved United States and England even for an inch.

It is vivid that admitting the refugee crisis would be translated to mean that the United States foreign policy in this war-torn country is a mess and an indication of failure to the whole world.

The United States economy

The war on Iraq and subsequent demand to withdraw U.S troops has elicited mixed reactions both from the American law makers and the public at large. In itself, the dispute has already stretched the taxpayers’ pockets deeper alongside the deteriorating domestic economy.

It is imperative to note that as Obama administration continues to support Iraq operations, there are miscellaneous emergency bills out of the normal budgeting that the Congress has to pass from time to time. These are additional expenses supporting foreign policies that are no longer viable.

Although economists are not unanimous on the scaling cost of the war, they, however, concur that direct appropriations and the cost of the war are not proportional at all. This implies that the country may have excessive spending on the war, especially now that it has to maintain its large number of troops in Iraq although the current level of troops indicates that the deployment is reducing.

One of the evident effects of the war is the rising oil prices and huge deficits in the country’s annual budget. It is unfortunate that politics has been entangled by the economics of the country.

The Congressional Budget Office which is also non-partisan in U.S politics estimated that over 750 billion U.S dollars has been spent on U.S foreign policy since September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. if this figure is anything to go by, then the cost of the war has surpassed the initial tentative budget (Bose, 2011, p.214).

Worse still, some economists like Joseph Stiglitz based in Columbia University, reiterate that the above figure is just a tiny percentage of what has already been spent in cushioning the Iraqi war. It is also vital to note that the cost of war has stretched beyond just maintaining troops abroad.

For instance, there are those families who have been economically negatively impacted since their sole breadwinners departed in the war. Besides, the government has to spend an extra dollar in taking care of war veterans who were disabled in the war, such as cushioning their healthcare needs.

On the same note, the surging oil prices as a result of the war has had worst impact on the economy bearing in mind that the country relies heavily on oil resources. Nevertheless, the 2003 war cannot be solely blamed on the skyrocketing prices of oil in the world market.

It has been estimated that up to $600 billion could have been spent for war veterans who are disabled. The economic doldrums facing United States today has been blamed on the Iraq war. For example, political economists have emphasized time and again that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) cannot be improved with increased spending on defence (Bilmes & Stiglitz, 2008, p.143).

There are also other economic effects of the war that may not be felt now but will emerge in later years. For instance, the unsecured junk home loans may indeed be an economic peril in future. It is highly likely that foreign investors will continue to fund U.S foreign debts. Consequently, the standards of living will definitely go down.

One are that is expected to feel the pinch of the war in coming years is healthcare sector that has always demanded huge spending. There are others who argue that it is crucial for the Obama administration to seek ways and devise strategies of striking an equilibrium between the price tag of the war against other intangibles if the nation it to survive in this hard economic times (Bremer, 2006, p.39).

National security

Every American citizen today is overly concerned with the status of the country’s national security especially following the events of the September 11, 2001 (Bilmes & Stiglitz, 2008, pp.102-104). Indeed, as United States continues to fund its military action in Iraq among other unpopular foreign policies, the worry is that a repeat of terror attack might be in the offing.

Right from the very beginning, the war on Iraq was presumably misguided, at least according to the critics of former President Bush Administration. It is definite that the state of national security hangs in the balance following the 2003 aggression on Iraq. The United States government and the general public is living in fear of being attacked by organized terrorism.

No wonder, the Department of Homeland Security was immediately formed in 2002 after the 9/11 incidence and thereafter followed by the 2003 invasion. Sincerely speaking, the threat to WMDs is glaring even as the government is trying to cushion itself by creating systems and structures to monitor and fight terrorism (Ackerman & Hathaway, 2011, p.448).

The surging oil prices

The earlier prediction by the then vice President Dick Cheney that oil and gas prices would soon resume to normal did not come to pass. The total oil output from Iraq stagnated at 1.5 million barrels per day contrary to the expected 3 million barrels per day (Arnove, 2007, p.66).

The drop in oil and gas production went down by 50% immediately after the onset of the war, thereby leading to skyrocketing of prices of this rare commodity in the international market. At this point, it is also imperative to note that the flow of Iraq oil has been hindered by other producers as well.

By 2006, the global output of oil was anticipated to increase by about 0.8 million barrels per day. However, the shortfall experienced in Iraq as a result of the war was significant enough to derail the expected output. The graph below illustrates the volume of oil production in Iraq in seven consecutive years from 2000-2006.

The volume of oil production in Iraq in seven consecutive years from 2000-2006.

As can be observed from the graph above, the 2003 invasion almost crippled oil production in Iraq. The total volume of output during this time was almost negligible, only to experience a slight upward growth a year later. Even after the war, production of oil remained quite unstable, with a serious slump in output in January 2006.

As expected, both the Iraq and United States economies were duly affected since both of them relied heavily on the local production of oil in Iraq. In both countries, the taxpayers had to dig deeper into their pockets to meet the rising cost of living occasioned by the drop in oil production in Iraq due to political instability.

Notwithstanding the above oil trend since the onset of the war, the graph now shows that the production of oil has recovered to pre-war levels.


In recap, it is pertinent to reiterate that the war on terrorism cannot be fought by an iron fist. Any form of threat to international peace and security should be handled with due care and sensitivity it deserves to avoid casing myriad challenges that only jeopardize innocent lives. Indeed, the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a critical example on how power and supremacy can be misdirected.

While we appreciate the fact that the nation should be defended against the threat of WMDs, it is also important to note that two wrongs do not make a right.

So far, DHS national guidelines developed and implemented nationwide have provided a durable framework for multi-agency coordination and cooperation. it is also crucial to emphasize that although oil factor may be part of the “American grand design” to stamp global authority and spearhead supremacy as a superpower, the 2003 invasion of Iraq by United States should not be purely paralleled to relentless quest for oil in the Middle East state.

The post World War era has been characterized with dire needs by long term superpowers to remain visibly strong in the face of real and perceived enemies. It is a an ubiquitous global trend for most developed economies like United States to seek primacy by ‘whatever it takes’.

In addition, the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 incidence, is a vivid indication that although the war on terrorism is a worthy affair that needs to be applauded by all and sundry, the credits taken by Obama Administration on Bin Laden’s murder by U.S troops was extremely overwhelming.

Currently, the global attention seems to be shifting from Bin Laden to the effectiveness of the Obama Administration on fighting terrorism. Once again, the United States foreign policy on international peace and security has been rejuvenated. This was definitely not about oil in Pakistan or Afghanistan.


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