The Brutality and The Illegality of The War in Iraq, 20 Years Later

Boys play with a ball in front of oilfields burned by Islamic State fighters in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic – RC1DEE7A4C80

They knocked at our front door and my father went to open it. They shot him dead from behind the door and then they shot him again.

Then one American soldier came in and shot at us all. I pretended to be dead and he didn’t notice me.

a testimony from City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account of War and Resistance, a book by Haifa Zangana

This is what they don’t teach you in political science classes: how, if you’re powerful enough, you can invade and destroy a country and face no consequences for it.⁣

The 20th anniversary of the Iraq War is another reminder of how much impunity there is when it comes to Western aggression and US-led wars.

In March 2023, the US and its allies invaded Iraq on the premise based on fabricated lies. The lies – that Saddam Hussein secretly kept weapons of mass destruction – are long-known now.

Twenty years, a destroyed nation, and a torn region later, we know no-one is being held accountable: George W. Bush is out and enjoying his retirement, and none of his high-rank generals are facing significant consequences for leaving Iraq in shambles. We didn’t see any international investigations of human rights violations by the occupying troops in Iraq that would have led to mass arrests.

The one person whose health is deteriorating as he is held in torturous conditions is Julian Assange, a publisher who dared to reveal US war crimes to the public – doing what good journalists do.

Hear about the war’s impact on Iraqi society and its women from professor Nadje Al-Ali

But what is there to say when we talk about a brutal invasion and a military occupation that followed:

How can a military occupation not be humiliating?
How can mass destruction not be creating a collective trauma?
How can a war like this not be illegal?

The war in Iraq is one of the biggest crimes of our time. White phosphorus being poured on Fallujah, people tortured by the US troops in prisons, killings of civilians, and even the theft of oil.

Yet we know that whether the criminal is punished depends on who is constructing the narrative. And when it is still constructed by the criminal itself that a big part of the world bows to, imagining justice is difficult.

As a quote by Noam Chomsky goes,

“For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”

Twenty years after the US brutal invasion of Iraq, this quote remains true.

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