In 2003 the government of the United States made the decision to invade Iraq in part as retaliation for the 9/11 attacks and in part to eradicate Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Intelligence about Iraqi possession of WMDs came from an individual code named Curveball. “Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, whose CIA cryptonym is Curveball, is an Iraqi chemical engineer who defected from Iraq in 1999 and subsequently invented claims about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction” (Flock) The intelligence that decision makers in the government used as the basis for the validity of the invasion of Iraq was inaccurate, in fact the intelligence was a complete fabrication. The reason that Curveball lied about Iraqi WMDs was personal in nature ““My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime's oppression,” Janabi told the BBC” (Flock) While Curveball lied about chemical and biological weapons, the government of the United States didn’t exactly go out of its way to prove the validity of intelligence, they were looking for any excuse for an invasion. Fictional WMDs was as good a reason as any. No four thought was put into what would happen in Iraq after the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
In the 11 years after the invasion began Iraq has become a completely failed state. A failed state “can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty. Within this power vacuum, people fall victim to competing factions and crime, and sometimes the United Nations or neighboring states intervene to prevent a humanitarian disaster. However, states fail not only because of internal factors. Foreign governments can also knowingly destabilize a state by fueling ethnic warfare or supporting rebel forces, causing it to collapse” (Global Policy Forum) a failed state is one that is no longer able to function in any capacity. The government of a failed state has completely collapsed and there is nothing to take its place. In some failed and/or failing states such as Afghanistan and Mexico government actions have been taken over my transnational criminal organizations (drug cartels). In the case of Iraq, extremists are attempting to take over the Iraqi government.
The reason for this is varied, “Saddam Hussein was a nasty, murderous tyrant who brutalized much of his country and was guilty of war crimes. But Iraq under the rule of his nominally secular Ba'ath party was not the sectarian charnel house that it became in the years following Hussein's overthrow and eventual execution.” (Tharoor) there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein committed crimes against humanity against Kurdish refugees in Northern Iraq and used biological weapons against Iran in the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, however Hussein was a secular ruler. He had no ambition or desire to introduce Sharia law to Iraq. He also wasn’t interested in waging Jihad against the west. Additionally Hussein’s Iraq was powerful enough to check the power of the fundamentalist Muslim state of Iran. Without a balance of power, Iran has been able to increase its power in the region and have seen several nations begin to destabilize, such as Syria.
The U.S. government’s stated goal of invasion of Iraq was to bring democracy to the region; however, democracy is an evolutionary process that can take decades not something that will spring up completely formed overnight. In addition there needs to be popular support for democracy. Meaning that a society has to be willing to accept and promote democracy. The Iraq population was neither in 2003 nor now in 2014 ready to accept democracy. “The Iraqi politicians who found traction in U.S.-occupied Iraq did little to build an inclusive, pluralist politics. Nor did they have much incentive. Traumatized by decades of authoritarianism and indulged by foreign partners, they sought to consolidate their own political fiefdoms to the detriment of the fragile Iraqi state.” (Tharoor) In fact the Sunni’s and Shiite’s began to fight with one another so that one group could not become the dominant (ruling) group because that would give one faction power over another. To prevent this violence began to occur among the factions. “The Sunni-Shiite bloodletting that followed scarred communities that for centuries had lived in relative peace alongside each other. The divisive politics of Maliki's government inflamed passions in Iraq's Sunni heartland, while violence in Baghdad saw the once cosmopolitan capital become heavily Shiite.” (Tharoor) In addition “Meanwhile, the invasion's aftermath hollowed out the country's Christian population, with hundreds of thousands fleeing as refugees. They were once protected minorities in both Iraq and Syria, but the upheavals that followed the collapse of Ba'athist rule have made them vulnerable targets.” (Tharoor)
What is even more important is the invasion increased insurgent violence instead of decreasing the levels of violence. “ISIS emerged as al-Qaeda splinter group operating in the wake of the invasion, a fringe, lethal faction within a larger Sunni insurgency. While beaten back by the U.S. surge in 2007, the elements that would reform as ISIS would find fertile ground amid Syria's civil war, where it began a campaign of conquest and slaughter that has yielded it a virtual mini-state.” (Tharoor) The invasion of Iraq led to the radicalization of individuals that would not have ordinarily sought out membership in an insurgent group. It is important to understand that ISIS did exist before the U.S. led invasion but the functional Hussein government was able to maintain stability in Iraq. Without the stabilizing influence of a functional government and increased U.S. military present that has led to radicalization has allowed ISIS to rise from the shadows to become a lethal insurgent group. “Now, as ISIS's onslaught nears Baghdad, Shiite militias that had first risen up in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion are once more mustering and joining the battle. Many of these factions didn't exist -- or were deep underground -- under Hussein. This is not to say that Saddam Hussein deserved to remain in power. But the security vacuum after his fall and the presence of foreign occupiers led to Iraq becoming a breeding ground for jihad and religious extremism. It also led to Iran developing significant influence in a neighboring country that was once ruled by a bitter foe.” (Tharoor) Thanks to the U.S led invasion Iraq is now becoming the new training ground for insurgents as Afghanistan was in the 1980s and the war in the Caucuses was in the 1990s.
Before invading Iraq the U.S. government should have taken the time to understand the history of Iraq so they had an understanding of the culture of Iraq. Time was not taken to do this. The remainder of this report will cover the history of Iraq.
History of Iraq:
Iraq (the area known as modern day Iraq) is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Modern day Iraq was known “in classical antiquity as Mesopotamia, was home to the oldest civilizations in the world, with a cultural history of over 10,000 years, hence its common epithet, the Cradle of Civilization. Mesopotamia, as part of the larger Fertile Crescent, was a significant part of the Ancient Near East throughout the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.” (Wikimedia Foundation) This indicates that Iraq has been the location of a continues civilization from the earliest points in recorded history. In addition to this “Arabs have been the majority of Iraq's population since Sassanid times. Iraq was ruled by the indigenous empires, Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian and also by foreign empires; Median, Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanian empires during the Iron Age and Classical Antiquity, before Iraq was conquered by the Muslim Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century, and became a center of the Islamic Golden Age during the medieval Abbasid Caliphate. After a series of invasions and conquest by the Mongols and Turks, Iraq fell under Ottoman rule in the 16th century, intermittently falling under Iranian Safavid and Mamluk control. (Wikimedia Foundation) Before World War I Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire, after the end of WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq became a colony of Britain, “Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932.” (Central Intelligence Agency) Since the time that Iraq had become a colony of Britain it had been fighting for independence and is Leary of outsiders that have come in an attempt to stabilize the Iraqi government. It is important that U.S. decision makers understood this fact. The population of Iraq would not open an outside force coming into the nation in an attempt to help with governing. This is due to the fact that for a period of its history Iraq fought to gain independence from Britain.
The government of Iraq indicates the steps that the nation went to in an attempt to prevent future colonization and why the Hussein regime functioned for so long. “A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husain. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime. US forces remained in Iraq under a UNSC mandate through 2009 and under a bilateral security agreement thereafter, helping to provide security and to train and mentor Iraqi security forces. In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005.” (Central Intelligence Agency) From the outside it would appear that the U.S. led invasion was an occupying force that would take independence from Iraq. It should also be noted that democracy is an evolutionary process. Larger nations cannot force a democratic form of government on a nation that is not ready to receive it. Iraq is an example of a nation that is not ready to completely accept democracy. This is due to the fact that a new form of government needs to prove that it will remain stable and prevent violence from occurring.
The violence that Iraq is currently experiencing is an incitement against the ability of a democratic form of government from taking shape in Iraq. Isis has thrown the country into chaos and the current government and U.S. occupational force has thus far been unable to end the violence. It will not be until violence had ended and a stable government is put in place that the population of Iraq will be willing and able to accept a different form of government. Violence in Iraq also indicates that Iraq is becoming the new insurgent training camp. Violence in Iraq has the potential to destabilize the entire region.
Flock, Elizabeth. "‘Curveball,’ man who lied about WMDs, comes clean." Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/post/curveball-man-who-lied-about-wmds-comes-clean/2012/04/03/gIQAUdditS_blog.html (accessed August 23, 2014).
"Global Policy Forum." Failed States. https://www.globalpolicy.org/nations-a-states/failed-states.html (accessed August 23, 2014).
Wikimedia Foundation. "History of Iraq." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Iraq (accessed August 23, 2014).
Tharoor, Ishaan. "Iraq’s crisis: Don’t forget the 2003 U.S. invasion." Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/16/iraqs-crisis-dont-forget-the-2003-u-s-invasion/ (accessed August 23, 2014).
Central Intelligence Agency. "The World Factbook - Iraq." Central Intelligence Agency. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iz.html (accessed August 23, 2014).