The Iraq War

Written By: - Date published: 10:06 am, June 25th, 2018 - 43 comments
Categories: activism, International, iraq, Politics, war - Tags: ,

Reposted from Nick Kelly’s blog

I remember when the first Gulf War happened in 1991. Though only young I recall the 5 months from the invasion of Kuwait. The conflict was being talked up, and became inevitable. At the time I didn’t realise Saddan Hussein had been supported and armed by the US up till 1990 during the Iraq/Iran war (I was 8 at the time). It wasn’t till some years later that I understood what had happened to the Kurds after the 1991 conflict, or the crippling sanctions that hurt ordinary people while the regime thrived.

Laying an anti-imperialist wreath on ANZAC Day, Wellington April 2003 ANZAC Day 2003

Above ANZAC Day 2003 in Wellington. Laying an anti imperialist wreath at the Cenotaph outside parliament. 

In November 2000 I was studying for my economics exam (which I passed), but became distracted by the US Presidential election. This was the night Al Gore won the most votes but Bush Junior won the electoral college. A later recount in Florida and legal action failed to overturn this result despite later evidence that indeed Al Gore had won the state of Florida and that he, not Bush should have been in the White House.

A Bush presidency made the prospect of an invasion of Iraq inevitable. At least that was the general consensus. The 2001 September 11 attacks had nothing to do with Iraq, yet were used as an excuse. As was highly questionable intelligence which in 2016 was found to be flawed information.

In 2003 I was the Campaigns Officer on the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA). In the weeks leading up to university started there were a number of protests in Wellington and throughout the world. I recall one protest on Saturday 15 February 2003. We called a midday rally and had organised a small march against the any attack on Iraq. We expected maybe a couple of hundred people to show up. When over 5000 people arrived at the small park we were meeting at we suddenly faced some logistical issues. I recall vetern activist Jim Delahunty turning to me and saying “this is a good problem to have.”

Anti War protest April 2003

One of the many Anti Iraq War protests held in early 2003 in Wellington

At the first Initial General Meeting of the Students’ Association in 2003 we put the Iraq War on the agenda. It had been some years since students had really taken a position on an international issue like this, so we weren’t sure how it would go. The meeting was one of the best attended General meetings in years, and the venue at max capacity. From memory only 2-3 people voted against the anti war motion.

Peace Action Wellington became the coalition group in Wellington Organising against the war. We held regular protest marches, rallies, occupations and other events throughout 2003.

TV reports on Iraq War Protests in 2003

Notable events during the year were the ANZAC Day protests where I and a number others laid an anti-imperialist wreath, an act which caused no small amount of controversy. Another was when the US Ambassador came to speak on campus, and student activists shut down the event so he was unable to speak. I and other activists then were filmed by local and international TV crews burning US flags (8 years later when I finally travelled to the US I was concerned I may not be let in, I was).

As a socialist activist and friend of mine Dougal McNeill said of the protests later: “mass movements shoot up like a rocket, and fall like a stick.” Out of the anti war movements in Wellington, and internationally a layer of activists were politicised and went on to do other things. But the movement itself, or at least the mass protests didn’t last that long. Though opposition to the Iraq invasion continues to be very widespread.

Album 2 scans (27)

2003 Vic Uni protest against the Iraq War. Crosses were placed on the Hunter lawn to represent those killed in conflict. A letter was sent to the Student Magazine Salient the following week asking why we’d used crosses to represent the dead in predominately Muslim Country – the letter was signed “Cat Stevens”

This is not to say that the 2003 protests against the Iraq Invasion achieved nothing. Bush and Blair were probably never going to change their minds about the invasion. But the strong public opposition helped create the space where the New Zealand (Labour) Government broke with its traditional US, UK  and Australian allies and didn’t send combat troops. Internationally the Iraq war did impact on domestic politics, and continues to today. In the US, Obama’s 2008 election pledge to pull troops out of Iraq almost certainly helped get him elected. 8 years later Trump claimed the Iraq invasion was one of the worse decisions ever made, despite him personally supporting it in 2003.  In the UK, Blair’s legacy never recovered. Today even Labour MP’s sympathetic to the Blair project like Chuka Umunna say the invasion of Iraq was wrong.

The Iraq invasion removed Saddam Hussein, but life for people in Iraq did not improve. The rise of Isis, horrific terror attacks on civilians, extreme poverty and political and economic instability have continued Iraq’s suffering for the last 15 years. Further, this invasion contributed to the wider instability in the Middle East and growing hostility towards the West. The invasion of Iraq was wrong, and has caused long term harm. Bush and Blair’s legacy will forever be tarnished by this act, and deservedly so.

I am proud that I was part of the global opposition to this invasion, and would do so again.

Nick Kelly


43 comments on “The Iraq War”

  1. Gosman 1

    Iraq had not been supported and armed by the US up until 1990 in any meaningful way. The vast majority of Iraqi Weaponry (and training) was provided by the Soviet bloc. Of the Western powers the greatest providers of military equipment were probably the French. The US provided some intelligence assistance against the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war but given what happened in 1979 this was entirely understandable. They also had low level military advice and some military sales. Iraq was definitely not a US ally or client state.

    • Gabby 1.1

      So the yankers supported Saddam through third parties gozzer?

    • Tricledrown 1.2

      Goose man you are completely wrong
      Congresses investigation showed the US had a deep involvement with Saddam Hussain Donald Rumsfeld deeply involved.
      $billions of dollar’s in aid for food allowed to be used to buy arms by Reagan administration.
      Supplying arms through 3rd parties to avoid suspicion the US was involved.
      At the time of Rumsfeld visit Saddam was using chemical weapons against his own people.
      Goose man you have got it wrong as usual.

      • Gosman 1.2.1

        Yet you provide no link to anything which your claims can be backed up by.

        • Tricledrown

          Goose man it took me all of 30seconds to find NYtimes articles on congressional enquiries into who financed Saddam Hussein.
          Reagan/Rumsfeld/GHWBush (former head of the CIA.
          You never back up your BS stories with facts, you just throw some poorly researched propaganda out and hope no one looks into it.
          Your an idiot.

          • Enough is Enough

            “Your an idiot”

            Only a true idiot would use “your” instead of “you’re” when calling someone else an idiot.

            • Gosman

              He also still hasn’t provided a link to something he claims is easy enough to locate. Perhaps he doesn’t know how to link to external web pages.

            • Tricledrown

              Eieio you are an idiot I have only one hand at the moment can’t be bothered with proper diction.
              The meaning has been communicated.

            • Gabby

              He’s right though isn’t he nuffynuffy.

            • Tricledrown

              France provided Nuclear the US and UK provided the chemical and biological ingredients for his bombs.
              The US provided cash in food aid that was never used for food aid but for weapons purchased through outside arms dealers that was to hide US involvement.

              Nytimes/Daily mirror etc etc etc.

  2. Gosman 2

    Those ‘crippling sanctions’ were imposed by the United Nations to ensure Iraq complied with the outcome of the First Gulf war including eliminating all WMD’s (which it looks like they did). It was Saddam Hussein’s refusal to allow proper verification of his disarmament that meant the sanctions were kept on. The reason behind that was probably because he could control his population easier under the sanctions regime.

    • adam 2.1

      So you agree sanctions help dictators with the narrative of the world against us. Or blaming the outside for the woes inside a country?

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        Both. Sanctions tend not to work in getting major action. They can have an influence and can be a useful stick to use in diplomatic negotiations however in the long term they are counterproductive in my opinion.

  3. Bill 3

    Today – after how many years of presiding over the country’s degeneration and destruction – the US have pledged, how much in reconstruction costs?

    Well, last time I looked (a month or so back) there was no need to fuddle with any fingers and toes to work out the total dollar amount.

    The war against Iraq never ended and won’t end. It just unfolds into ever novel modes of destruction for Iraqi people to deal with.

    I guess the same can be said for Afghanistan, Libya, and any other place that Old Uncle Sam’s gaze falls on.

  4. Tricledrown 4

    Goose man your a shifty bastard once you are proven a liar you go on to baffle with your BS.
    Go back to Troll school.
    Rand Corp is your source try reading a bit wider you blinkered fool.

    • Gosman 4.1

      instead of pointless and ineffectual ad-hominem attacks why don’t you provide actual evidence supporting your views?

  5. In Vino 5

    Nickkelly, I am elderly.. and I read your post with sadness. I see the same gradual disillusion that my generation experienced about Vietnam.
    And in the comments above, I see the same sort of misguided right-wing bollocks that was formerly used to justify the folly in Vietnam.
    We learn from history that the USA and RWNJs do not learn from history.

  6. Bewildered 6

    Or possibly many young lefties grow up ( not all) and smell the roses.

    • Gabby 6.1

      The turdblossoms beewee?

    • In Vino 6.2

      Are you replying to me (comment 5) Bewildered? (Use reply button to make it clear.)
      If yes, I would question your statement.
      Some idiot once said that anyone who was not Left in youth had no heart, but not Right when older had no brain. Witty, but totally untrue.
      Fact is that shallow exploitative social climbers go left when young because they sense the age of rebellion etc are the majority and use their manipulative skills to raise themselves. When these social climbers get older, they realise that the rich right-wingers are more influential, so they conveniently change their tune. These are the hollow people.
      So don’t talk about young lefties not growing up, Bewildered.
      Think about the possibility that they smelt and appreciated the rose all along and have remained true to it.
      Unlike shallow social climbers who have no real beliefs, but shape their course to wherever the current breeze is blowing.
      These climbers (who often become politicians) are the shallow, hollow people, Bewildered.
      If I have misunderstood you, please explain how. Smell the roses indeed…

  7. Timeforacupoftea 7

    Thank goodness George Bush beat the boring Al Gore !
    George Bush was the funniest US President ever, I still remember one incident clearly of Bush leaving a stage after a news conference tapping the wall looking for the exit with a real smirk on his face.
    Not even Obama would have pulled that one off.

  8. In Vino 8

    (Sorry – this is a reply to 7.1 But I misprinted my email address, which should have been given as in the good old days, and got bumped up to No 8.)
    Maybe.. But if I am right in remembering that Sadam was also threatening to dump the US$ for oil trading, that student deserves a Fail.
    If I remember correctly, Gadaffi suffered a nasty fate for threatening the same thing.

    • Gosman 8.1

      There is a fundamental flaw in your reasoning. Gaddafi and Saddam plan was to swap out the US dollar for the Euro. Why would the Europeans agree to fight a war against that proposal?

      • In Vino 8.1.1

        D’uh?? Please read carefully before posting…
        7.1 “The only reason this changed is because Saddam made the mistake of threatening US interests, when he decided to invade Kuwait in 1990.”
        I pointed out that this was wrong – the US$ thing was also a factor.
        Your imagined flaw is a product of your own dreaming.

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