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Iraq and the United States: A Brief Sketch

  • Carl Mirra
Chapter
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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)

Abstract

Iraq is located in the Middle East and shares its Eastern border with Iran. Kuwait sits at Iraq’s southern border, while Saudi Arabia is located immediately to the west of Iraq. As can be imagined, Iraq has a dry, desert climate. However, in the north it is mountainous and experiences cold winters. A sergeant whom I interviewed encountered a hailstorm while in the north: “Hail came down all over the place. I mean ice covered sand in Iraq!” The country is roughly 4,300,000 square kilometers, slightly larger than the U.S. state of California. It is estimated that some 26 million people lived in Iraq in 2007 with concentrated populations in the capital city of Baghdad. Most Iraqis are Muslim; however there is significant tension between Shiite and Sunni Muslims as well as the ethnic Kurds who reside in the north.

Keywords

Foreign Policy Middle East Security Council Service Member Bush Administration 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    For background information, see Douglas Little, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), pp. 156–160.Google Scholar
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    Roger Morris, “A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making,” New York Times, March 14, 2003.Google Scholar
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  7. 7.
    Mark Pythian, Arming Iraq: How the U.S. and Britain Secretly Built Saddams War Machine (Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 1996). Products that can be used in the manufacture of biological weapons were among the items shipped to Iraq from U.S. suppliers in the 1980s. According to a 1994 U.S. Senate Committee, “We contacted a principal supplier of these materials to determine what, if any, materials were exported to Iraq which might have contributed to an offensive or defensive biological warfare program. Records available from the supplier for the period from 1985 until the present show that during this time, pathogenic (meaning ‘disease producing’), toxigenic (meaning ‘poisonous’), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Records prior to 1985 were not available, according to the supplier. These exported biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.” See Donald W. Riegle, Jr., Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, “U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War,” U.S. Senate, 103rd Congress, May 1994, available at <http://www.gulfweb.org/bigdoc/report/r_1_2.html>, accessed August 5, 2007.Google Scholar
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    Background on UN and unfolding of the First Gulf War in Sarah Graham-Brown and Chris Toensing, Why Another War? A Backgrounder on the Iraq Crisis, 2nd edition, Middle East Research and Information Project (December 2002).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    For a brief account of the PNAC, see Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 89–91.Google Scholar
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    Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002), p. 49.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Secretary Colin L. Powell, “Press Remarks with Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre Moussa,” U.S. Department of State, February 24, 2001, available at <http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2001/933.htm>, January 5, 2007.Google Scholar
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    David Manning, “The Secret Downing Street Memo,” Sunday Times, May 1, 2005.Google Scholar
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    Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith, “False Pretenses: Following 9/11, President Bush and Seven Top Officials of His Administration Waged a Carefully Orchestrated Campaign of Misinformation about the Threat Posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq,” Center for Public Integrity Report, available at <http://www.publicintegrity.org/WarCard/Default.aspx?src=home&context=overview&id=945>, accessed July 18, 2008. “President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq within 48 Hours: Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation” (Washington, DC: Office of the Press Secretary), March 17, 2003.Google Scholar
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    “President Delivers State of the Union,” January 28, 2003, available at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128–19.html>. Dana Priest and Karen DeYoung, “CIA Questioned Documents Linking Iraq, Uranium Ore,” Washington Post, March 22, 2003. See also “Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq,” Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate, July 7, 2004. The report finds numerous agencies challenging the documents regarding the Nigerian uranium sale to Iraq. Among the responses were that it was “highly suspect”; “lacks crucial details”; and “completely implausible.” Jeanne Cummings, “Security Advisers Now Share Blame In Intelligence Row,” Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2003, p. A4. Note that the CIA’s initial challenge led to the removal of the uranium claim from an October speech. See Ken Fireman, “Warning Unheeded,” Newsday, July 23, 2003.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Jim Rutenberg and Scott Shane, “Libby Pays Fine, Judge Poses Probation Query,” New York Times, July 6, 2007.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    For specific citation and details see Stephen Shalom, “Iraq White Paper,” in Enduring Freedom or Enduring War? Prospects and Costs of the New American 21st Century, ed. Carl Mirra (Washington, DC: Maisonneuve Press, 2005), pp. 173–176.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    “U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End the War in 2006,” Zogby International, February 28, 2006, available at <http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1075>, accessed July 18, 2008. To be sure, withdrawal does not mean abandonment. UN consultant, Johan Galtung, suggests a Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East, chaired by Jordan or a party in the region. See Johan Galtung, “Human Needs, Humanitarian Intervention, Human Security and the War in Iraq,” February 2004, available at <http://www.transcend.org>, accessed July 18, 2008.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Sean Rayment, “Secret MoD Poll: Iraqis Support Attacks on British Troops,” Sunday Telegraph, October 23, 2005. “Iraqis Not So Happy,” Newsday, September 29, 2003, p. Al2. Furthermore, the Brookings Institute identifies a February 2005 poll in which 71 percent of Iraqis “oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq.” For this poll and several others with similar data, see Abigail Fuller and Neil Wollman, “Should the U.S. Withdraw? Let the Iraqi People Decide,” Professors for Peace, October 13, 2005.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “How Cleric Trumped U.S. Plan for Iraq,” Washington Post, November 26, 2003, p. A20. Juan Cole, “The Iraq Election: First Impressions,” History News Network, January 31, 2005.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    William Booth and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “Occupation Forces Halt Elections throughout Iraq,” Washington Post, June 28, 2003, p. A20.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    Hamza Hendawi, “Iraqi Shiites Demand Elections in Peaceful Protest,” Associated Press, January 1, 2004. The key figure behind the massive, nonviolent protest was the Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini Sistani, a leader of Iraqi Shiites.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    Juan Cole, “The Iraq Election: First Impressions,” History News Network, January 31, 2005. Naomi Klein, “Getting the Purple Finger,” The Nation, February 11, 2005.Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    In June 2005, Iraq’s Al-Mada newspaper printed a draft of this constitution. The initial draft mirrored a “Scandinavian-type welfare system,” noted one informed observer. For example, Article 18 stated that “the basis of the economy is social justice.” The United States dispatched a team to help in drafting the new Iraqi Constitution. One member of the team was Zalmay Khalilzad, who participated in the Project for a New American Century. The final draft of the constitution, news sources reported, had omitted the language of Article 18 above. The final version also added a new provision that encouraged investment in Iraqi petroleum. See Herbert Docena, “Iraq’s Neoliberal Constitution,” Foreign Policy in Focus, September 2, 2005, pp. 1, 2, 5, and 7.Google Scholar
  28. 30.
    For information on insurgent groups Eric S. Margolis, “Know Thine Enemy,” The American Conservative, November 21, 2005, pp. 25–27 and Marie Colvin, “U.S. in Secret Truce Talks with Insurgency Chiefs,” Sunday Times, October 22, 2006. On rebellion, see Camilo Mejia, Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia (New York: New Press, 2007), p. 159.Google Scholar
  29. 31.
    On Hussein, see Marc Santora, James Glanz, and Sabrina Tavernise, “Dictator Who Ruled Iraq with Violence is Hanged for Crimes against Humanity,” New York Times, December 20, 2006. For the poll, see Robert Hodierne, “Poll: More Troops Unhappy with Bush’s Course in Iraq,” Army Times, December 29, 2006.Google Scholar
  30. 32.
    James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward—A New Approach (New York: Vintage Press, 2006), pp. 9, 16, and 30. The report is also available from the U.S. Institute of Peace.Google Scholar
  31. 33.
    As Frisch observes, “oral history can contribute a substantial counter to officially received history and officially defined policy, by empowering people to generate alternative understandings.” See Michael Frisch, A Shared Authority: Essays on the Craft and Meaning of Oral and Public History (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980), p. 178. Again, the testimony presented here is not offered as “The” interpretation, but one that must be included in the debate on the war.Google Scholar

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© Carl Mirra 2008

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