CIWI Bulletin #6
26 March 2014
Dear members, supporters, readers and well-wishers,
Welcome to the eleventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq edition of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry bulletin.
In this edition:
-CIWI writes to parliamentarians for Iraq anniversary
-‘Iraq Invasion was about oil’
-The Iraq War: forgotten in plain sight
-‘I tried to make the intelligence behind Iraq less bogus’
-British army ‘blocked investigation into treatment of Iraqi prisoners’
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CIWI writes to parliamentarians for Iraq anniversary
In the lead-up to the eleventh anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq on Thursday March 20, CIWI wrote to Federal parliamentarians expressing concern that there has not been an inquiry into how the Australian government decided to commit our armed forces in that war.
The letters urged the government to create an independent Australian inquiry to investigate the process whereby Australia became involved in the Iraq war, and encouraged politicians to consider how that decision-making process should be changed in future.
The Campaign President, former Secretary of Defence Paul Barratt, stated that given the gravity of any decision to commit the Australian defence force to international armed conflict, the Australian people "are entitled to know how that decision was made, and what evidence informed the decision.”
He noted that in the civilian domain, governments are accustomed to holding inquiries after natural disasters and man-made accidents. “We carefully investigate the causes of deaths and injuries. All of this is designed so we can learn from experience and avoid future mistakes and losses. The Iraq war should be treated no differently.”
Kellie Merritt, whose husband Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel who was killed in Iraq, believes it is important Australia holds an inquiry into the war. “Commemoration of a nation’s military history and the role that military conflict have had in shaping its sense of national identity risks a serious credibility deficit if the country is not also prepared to honestly and robustly examine how it came to be involved in its military conflicts in the first place,” she said.
Ms Merritt added: "Such an examination should be more compelling when the war is unauthorized and pre-emptive. When hundreds of thousands lives are lost and millions displaced. Would we send troops again in the same, or similar, circumstances? If we aren’t prepared to scrutinize this process then, if nothing else, our perceived affection and gratitude to our diggers seems rather hollow.”
Full text of the letter sent to parliamentarians can be viewed here.
‘Iraq invasion was about oil’
Writing for the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Nafeez Ahmed makes the case that the invasion was about stabilising the world energy market:
"Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq War - yet to this day, few media reflections on the conflict accurately explore the extent to which opening up Persian Gulf energy resources to the world economy was a prime driver behind the Anglo-American invasion.
"[…] The centrality of concerns about energy to Iraq War planning was most candidly confirmed eight years ago by a former senior British Army official in Iraq, James Ellery, currently director of British security firm and US defence contractor, Aegis.
"Brigadier-General James Ellery CBE, the Foreign Office's Senior Adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad since 2003, had confirmed the critical role of Iraqi oil reserves in alleviating a "world shortage" of conventional oil. The Iraq War has helped to head off what Ellery described as "the tide of Easternisation" – a shift in global political and economic power toward China and India, to whom goes "two thirds of the Middle East's oil." "
The Iraq War: forgotten in plain sight
Hugh Gusterson, writing in Truth Out, has criticised media outlets for poor ongoing coverage of Iraq, which fails to link ongoing violence to Western intervention:
"On the 11th anniversary of the war in Iraq, the US mainstream media's decontextualized rendering of violence in Iraq fails to explain political divisions and struggles in Iraq or how this violence is a direct consequence of the US invasion and occupation.
"[…] In other words, this article normalizes the violence in Iraq. By disconnecting the violence from the Iraqi political process, it renders it politically unintelligible and somehow intrinsic to Iraqi society. Like hot summers, it just is. It is as if a journalist reported IRA bombing attacks without mentioning that Irish Republicans felt they were oppressed and disenfranchised by the British government and Anglo-Irish protestants. Once you take away the political logic of violence - which US journalists never did to US military forces in Iraq - then you are left with the illusion that violence is being carried out for violence's sake."
‘I tried to make the intelligence behind Iraq less bogus’
This one is from last year’s anniversary, but is definitely worth a read: former CIA intelligence analyst Nada Bakos describes how the Bush administration undermined the intelligence analysis process by trying to make the facts fit the administration’s narrative:
"Ten years ago this week, the U.S. invaded Iraq, citing intelligence that turned out to be bogus. I had to work on some of it — and I also had to work on keeping the really, really terrible versions of it out of our analysis.
"[…] We needed to poke holes in our analysis, to be sure we were right. If not, we could rest assured Cheney would. Already, Cheney’s Pentagon ally, Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, had put together an alternative analysis faulting our own and asserting instead that “multiple areas of cooperation” existed between al-Qaida and Saddam. The ongoing questions and briefings became a labyrinth.
"[…] In the abstract, challenging CIA’s analysis is a good thing: agency analysts get stuff wrong, as evidenced by Saddam’s non-WMD. But in this case, it was problematic. The nature of intelligence analysis is to gather as much information as possible to assist a policymaker in making difficult choices. If a policymaker has a preference for what the intelligence product should say, that pollutes the objectivity of the intelligence — and diminishes its value."
British army ‘blocked investigation into treatment of Iraqi prisoners’
The Guardian reports that military police officer Lucy Bowen claims commanders of 1 Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment stopped her from questioning soldiers after the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004, in which at least 20 Iraqis were killed:
"The inquiry counsel, Jonathan Acton Davis QC, said: "The door was slammed in your face?" Bowen replied: "Yes … they would not allow us to investigate."
" "They blocked your investigation?" said Acton Davis. "Yes", said Bowen.
"Bowen, who was then a captain in the Royal Military Police (RMP), since promoted to major, was giving evidence in London to the al-Sweady inquiry, named after the family of a 19 year-old allegedly killed in the battle."
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The views expressed in this bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc). Readers should note that the Campaign for an Iraq war Inquiry (Inc) seeks a diversity of views and opinions in order to identify common ground.