Iraqi Freedom's Violence
The invasion of Iraq ten years ago was a violent and brutal affair. This may seem obvious, but sometimes it needs to be restated, otherwise the invasion can be seen as a discrete event that simply ushered in the administrative arrangements of the Coalition Provisional Authority, its direct rule of Iraq and the subsequent emergence of Iraqi governments under US-led military occupation.
It is striking, for example, that both the invaders and the Iraqi authorities remain coy about the numbers of Iraqis killed in the ‘shock and awe’ phase and subsequent military operations. In fact, it is not clear whether any real effort has been made to establish the true figures of this, the first of the many gruesome statistics that have marred the past ten years of Iraq’s history.
The significance of emphasizing this violence is that it was intrinsic to ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’, but was also productive of much that followed. It was not simply that military force was used to destroy the apparatus that confronted the United States and its allies in Iraq, it actually helped to create the kind of Iraq that then emerged under the occupation. In President George W. Bush’s radio address announcing the invasion, he said unequivocally that the US would be applying ‘decisive force’ and that ‘this will not be a campaign of half-measures’. The mission, he claimed, was clear – it was ‘to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people’.The only thing I might add is that Saddam Hussein's rule was also dependent on violence, and his regime also sowed the seeds of post-Saddam Iraq's turmoil, violence, and repression.