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Chapter 10: US Military Intervention (Introduction to Middle East Politics)

The build up of tension between the US and Iraq lead to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The US developed a moral argument for the invasion on the grounds that Iraq was a threat to global security.

The UN passed a resolution that called for Iraqi disarmament of chemical and biological weapons.

The arguments and the resolution were followed with actions against Iraq after there were reports of non-compliance by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) that soon withdrew from Iraq. The US and Britain responded with a military operation; a four-day bombing campaign called ‘Operation Desert Fox’.

This came after the US placed sanctions on Iraq and enforced no-fly-zones North and South of the country in the 1990’s.

The UN imposed many sanctions on Iraq, these led to the collapse of the Iraqi education system and domestic infrastructure. The sanctions increased infant mortality rates, child malnutrition, and resulted in deaths from shortages in medicine and polluted water supplies as reported by UNICEF.

After 9/11, the US government under Bush and the UK tried to pass a resolution in the UN that would authorize the use of force against Hussein regime and launched a campaign to find links between Iraq and the al-Qaeda network.  

But this campaign against Iraq was not a response to 9/11 but was a project that began in the 1990’s. A think tank (PNAC) in the US declared that removing the Hussein regime was a foreign policy priority in a letter to Clinton. Notably, the letter was signed by members of the future Bush administration.

Bush made a famous speech about the Axis of Evil in the Middle East.

Arguments were made that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The UN passed resolutions that aimed to disarm the Iraqi regime from these weapons, but they were not good enough for the US because they did not authorize the use of force directly. Powel and Cheney pushed the US administration to apply more pressure, with the argument that Al-Qaeda could get possession of these weapons from Iraq, unless there was quick action.

The UN declared that there was no link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda and that Iraq had discontinued its WMD program in 1991. But the US and Britain launched the invasion against the regime under the name ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ outside UN authorization. ‘The Coalition of the Willing’ were the global military that participated in the war. The operation was quick, it ended in 21 days and removed the Ba’ath party rule. The global coalition then spread its troops across the country after a ‘Shock and Awe’ strike that paralyzed the Iraqi military with aerial strikes before the coalition landed in the country.

The war killed approximately 126,000 Iraqis.

The Abu Gharib scandal, in which Iraqi prisoners were humiliated in prison by US forces, was featured in 60 Minutes.

4486 US service personnel and 318 service personnel from the coalition died, in addition to tens of thousands of physical injuries and psychological trauma.

Since Iraq couldn’t pay for the reconstruction of its country after the collapse of its state, the US paid the bill, which cost over $3 trillion. This had a massive impact on the world, and helped precipitate the 2008 global financial crisis.

An Introduction to Middle East PoliticsChapter 10: US Military Intervention (Introduction to Middle East Politics) 1

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