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Chance to condemn US war machine: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-03-21 19:05

Anti-war protesters march through Washington on Saturday. To mark the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War, activists from the ANSWER Coalition and other groups rallied for an end to US military operations and economic sanctions abroad. ALEJANDRO ALVAREZ/SIPA USA

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war. A report published by a Geneva-based NGO this month provides ample and detailed evidence of the devastating consequences of the war and subsequent occupation of the country, which was characterized by the dismantling of Iraqi society and the sufferings of the Iraqi people.

The crimes and atrocities detailed in the report have prompted renewed calls from the international community for the United States and the United Kingdom to be held accountable for their invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

The Geneva International Centre for Justice report, titled "Accountability and Justice for Iraq: The 20th Commemoration of the 2003 Invasion", points out that under the US-led occupation of Iraq and the sanctions imposed in 1990, the Iraqi people have suffered from torture, arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances and an overall decline in their ability to practice their fundamental rights.

On March 20, 2003, the US bypassed the United Nations and invaded Iraq with the assistance of the UK on the basis of a test tube of washing powder, which the George W. Bush administration claimed was evidence the Iraqi regime was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. In every conference, news release and statement the US made prior to the invasion, it made out that it was going to Iraq to liberate it from the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein, using this as the pretext for a war of aggression waged "for political and demonstrative effect".

The invasion not only destroyed Iraq's state apparatus, it also provided space and conditions for terrorism to expand. After the US' withdrawal in 2011, extremist groups, such as the Islamic State, took advantage of the security vacuum.

According to Statista, a statistical database, from 2003 to 2021, about 209,000 Iraqi civilians died in the war and the subsequent conflicts in the country, and about 9.2 million Iraqis became refugees or were forced to leave their homeland. The invasion of Iraq caused catastrophic damage to the systems that provide food, drinking water and healthcare in the country, and to this day civilians are dying in significant numbers due to the damage caused to such systems.

The findings and observations contained in the report substantiate what has been revealed so far by international agencies and media about the humanitarian disaster the US invasion brought to Iraq.

And Iraq, of course, is not the only country that has suffered from US aggression. Two years prior to the Iraq war, the US invaded Afghanistan in order to topple the Taliban. This was the start of what was to become its longest war. As well as Afghanistan and Iraq, it has also been deeply involved in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, which have created humanitarian disasters in those countries.

The anniversary of the Iraq war should be an occasion for the world to condemn the interventionist policy of the US and the human rights violations it has committed in the name of freedom and democracy. Until the US reins in its war machine, the world will continue to live in the shadow and consequences of its belief that its might always makes it right.

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