Obama slammed for defending Iraq invasion

United States President Barack Obama has received scorn for remarks made during a speech in Brussels on March 26. Obama defended the US invasion of Iraq in a bid to chastise Russia for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

Fending off repeated accusations that the US has lost its moral authority given the invasion of Iraq and other breaches of international law in recent years, Obama said: “Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system.

“We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.”

But instead of tamping down accusations of hypocrisy, Obama inflamed them.

Ross Caputi and Matt Howard, members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, spoke with Common Dreams by phone and said Obama's argument was weak, factually and morally.

“What President Obama said is false,” said Caputi. “The US did not attempt to work within the international system. We acted unilaterally, without the approval of the UN Security Council.”

Howard said: “We went from one lie, which was weapons of mass destruction, to another lie which was liberation and freedom. This idea that Iraq is somehow better off or that the US waged a so-called 'Good War' is ridiculous.”

Caputi said the US made successful bids to gain access to Iraqi resources, for instance through the writing of the new Iraqi constitution and the so-called “Bremer Orders”. This refers to Paul Bremer, who was the US-appointed administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq during the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

Those efforts “privatised Iraq's former nationalised energy resources” and paved the way for foreign oil companies to gain coveted access to Iraq oil and gas fields.

The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim also noted Obama's false assertion regarding Iraqi “resources”, writing: “In fact, the U.S. forced Iraq to privatize its oil industry ... and further required that it accept foreign ownership of the industry.

“The effort to transfer the resources to the control of multinational, largely U.S.-based oil companies has been hampered in part by the decade of violence unleashed by the invasion.”

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]