Ubaydi, north-west Iraq. A boy clings to his father after his mother and the rest of the family fled. US marines took over the town the day before the photograph was taken as part of an offensive against insurgents in the region. Iraqis had to flee the town except for all men of military age who were detained. Photograph: Sean Smith/The Guardian
The U.S. special ambassador on climate change and former Secretary of State John Kerry recently admitted on French TV channel LCI that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was based on a lie, but refused to admit it was a war of aggression.
The US-led invasion of Iraq was completely different to the current Ukraine conflict, John Kerry has told the LCI.
He appeared on LCI’s Sunday evening show hosted by Darius Rochebin, who had previously interviewed him for a Swiss outlet in 2017. Rochebin tweeted a video segment of the interview, in which he confronted Kerry about the West accusing Russia of aggression regarding Ukraine. The French journalist noted that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was an actual war of aggression, based on the lie that Baghdad secretly possessed weapons of mass destruction.
“No,” Kerry replied. “Because there has never been, you know, a process of direct accusation of President Bush himself.”
The crux of Kerry’s argument seems to be that former U.S. President George W. Bush was never charged with a crime.
He added that there had been “abuses” in the course of that conflict, and that he “spoke out against them.”
When Rochebin asked him directly whether the Iraq War had been a crime of aggression, Kerry repeatedly denied it.
“No, no, no. Well, you did not know it was a lie at the time. The evidence that was produced, people did not know that it was a lie,” the former U.S. Secretary of State said, before telling Rochebin that he does not intend to “re-debate the Iraq War” at this point.
“Sir, that is not a constructive way,” Kerry trailed off before concluding: “I’m not going to re-debate the Iraq War. We have spent a lot of time doing that previously, I was opposed to going in, I thought it was the wrong thing to do, but we gave the president the power, regrettably…. Based on the lie. And when we knew it was a lie, people stood up and did the right thing.”
Kerry also claimed he was opposed to the war at the time and thought it was the wrong thing to do.
Kerry actually voted in the Senate to authorize the invasion.
When Rochebin pushed him on the apparent double standard, Kerry began speaking about “climate justice.”
John Kerry, a former Vietnam veteran, received significant criticism during his failed 2004 presidential run for “being for the [Iraq] war before he was against it.”
The Bush administration accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of having chemical and biological weapons, as well as being somehow involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The ‘evidence’ for WMDs offered to the media and the UN Security Council turned out to be entirely fabricated, and no such weapons were ever found. Likewise, no connection between Baghdad and Al-Qaeda was ever established.
The 2003 invasion and the subsequent occupation of Iraq was carried out without UN approval, by what Bush called a ‘coalition of the willing’. The U.S., the UK, Australia and Poland provided troops for the attack, though Washington later claimed 44 more countries had offered some kind of support.
Kerry ran against Bush in 2004 but lost. He later served as secretary of state in the Barack Obama administration, and was appointed climate change ambassador by the current president, Joe Biden, in 2021.
Kerry did not deny there were abuses in Iraq and claimed he “spoke out against them.” However, he repeatedly denied the war was an act of aggression by the United States.
The Iraq War was sold on the premise that Iraq had or was developing weapons of mass destruction in violation of a UN resolution signed after the end of the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield/Storm).
The Bush administration and Tony Blair premiership in the UK presented fabricated evidence that Iraq was violating those sanctions and limiting UN weapon inspectors. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell also uncritically recounted a report that captured al-Qaeda leader Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi stating Iraq was providing chemical weapons training to Al-Qaeda fighters, though a CIA report prior to his testimony indicated al-Libi would not have been in a position to know such information.
Post-war analysis showed that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had actually rebuffed meetings proposed by al-Qaeda operatives, that he never provided any material or operational support to the organization and saw them as a threat to his regime.
Two years after the attack, 69% of Americans believed Hussein was personally responsible for September 11 and 89% believed he was providing support to Osama bin Laden.
A report on March 17, 2023 by The Guardian — The 2003 invasion’s legacy reverberates in the emboldenment of Iran, Islamic State’s violence and the disintegration of Syria — by Martin Chulov said:
“As a young US marine sergeant dispatched to Kuwait for the invasion, Ken Griffin had been itching to make a positive difference.
“When we began our march to Baghdad, I was 100% certain we were there for the right reasons,” he says. “When you are a young marine, it is unfathomable that the government would lie to you. Or send you to war when it did not have to. When you are in that situation and find yourself in battle, you are not hindered by the little things like: “Should we be here?” or “Is that just?” – you know in all your heart that it is the right thing to do.
“When you see columns of Iraqi soldiers gladly surrendering in exchange for food and shelter, it reinforces that belief. When men, women and children are smiling and waving at your column, you know all you need to know.
“Later, when Iraqis attack you under the cover of darkness, you do not think it might be the same people who were smiling and waving. These are bad actors, evil people. The ones you came to get rid of. The fact that they could be the same people who smiled and waved: that is a cynical realisation you would not be ready for until years later.”
The report said:
“Iraqis greeting American forces as liberators, then fighting them as occupiers, became a reality for troops who had helped topple Saddam and then stayed on, ostensibly to help rebuild the country. By late 2003, George W Bush’s belief that Iraq could be transformed into a democracy at the heart of the Middle East was looking ill-conceived. Within three years, it had become a bloody delusion that had killed several thousand US troops, more than 100,000 Iraqis, and caused the country to spiral into an abyss.
Other reports said:
In contrast to publicly known U.S. military casualty figures (tracked by the Pentagon to more than 4,300 in October 2009), for a number of years no comprehensive data on Iraqi mortality was made available by the Iraqi government. In October 2009 the Iraqi government released its estimate of violent deaths for the 2004–08 period (statistics for the earliest portion of the war were far more difficult to obtain, due to the lack of a functioning government at that time). According to the government estimate, more than 85,000 Iraqis — a figure that included both civilians and military personnel — had died violently in the four-year period.
In October 2010 the WikiLeaks published nearly 400,000 secret U.S. military documents from the Iraq War online under the title “Iraq War Log.”
The documents indicated that U.S. forces kept more detailed counts of Iraqi civilian casualties than previously acknowledged and that these counts indicated higher rates of civilian casualties than the military’s public statements, that private military contractors were often involved in incidents of excessive force, that Iran provided extensive direct military aid to Shia militias participating in Iraq’s sectarian conflict, and that U.S. forces ignored the widespread use of torture by Iraqi security forces. U.S. and Iraqi officials condemned the publication of the documents.