It has been thirteen years since former president George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office and announced the invasion and large-scale bombing of Iraq to “free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”
That war and occupation would go on to take the lives of over one million Iraqi people, according to some estimates, and leave behind decimated infrastructure, environmental poison, a sectarian political system and the conditions that fueled the rise of the “Islamic State.”
Met with the largest coordinated global protests in human history, the 2003 invasion was, for people in Iraq, one of many violent US interventions in the country.
As the Iraqi Transnational Collective recently documented, it has been 25 years since the US attacked a bomb shelter in Baghdad’s Amiriyah neighborhood, killing 403 civilians as part of “Operation Desert Storm” assault on cities, infrastructure and people. The brutal US sanctions regime during the ’90s is estimated to have killed at least half-a-million children — a death toll that was cruelly described in 1996 by Madeleine Albright as “worth” the price.
Now, on the anniversary of a war that is broadly considered to be a disaster of epic proportions, and even acknowledged as a mistake by some of its initial supporters, the Obama administration is quietly deploying more troops to the country. These deployments come despite the president’s previous pledges that there would be no “boots on the ground” in military operations against the “Islamic State,” which have now been waged in Iraq and Syria for roughly a year-and-a-half.
US Central Command announced on Sunday that it has assigned “a detachment of US Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the support of Iraqi Security Force and Coalition ground operations.” The military did not disclose the specific number of marines who will be deployed to a country where there are already nearly 4,000 US troops on the ground.
That announcement came one day after the Pentagon announced that Marine Staff Sergeant Louis F. Cardin was killed by rocket fire on a base near Makhmour, located southeast of Mosul.
CNN’s Barbara Starr reported over the weekend that the firebase had not been previously disclosed to the public and was only revealed by Cardin’s death.
An unnamed defense official told CNN that the Pentagon had been planning to reveal the existence of a “couple hundred” marines living in tents near Makhmour. However, such claims are questionable, given the military’s repeated failure to share the most basic information about its ongoing wars, including civilians it has killed in Iraq and Syria.
“The fact that the US is sending undisclosed numbers of marines back to Iraq is a sad indication that the the Obama administration’s policy in the country does not depart from the policies of former administrations,” Raed Jarrar, government relations manager for the American Friends Service Committee, told AlterNet. “In addition to direct military intervention, the US is also sending Iraq weapons and military aid. It is indirectly supporting human rights violations and war crimes committed by our partner in the country.”
“Obama ran on a platform of ending the Iraq War,” Jarrar continued. “The US has been engaged in military intervention in Iraq since 1991, and Obama is the fourth consecutive president who seems to be following the same unfortunate policies of continuing to interfere in Iraq militarily and continuing to be part of the problem.”