Job of US Marine corps was killing people: Iraq War veterans speak up
Twenty years on, US veterans struggle to forget their atrocities and the WMD lies that triggered the war on Iraq.
Many Americans have forgotten about the atrocities committed by US-led occupation forces in Iraq since the invasion of 2003. However, the repercussions of the US war crimes and other serious violations of international law in Iraq continue to be an unavoidable part of Iraqis' daily life.
Trauma persists for most Iraqis as 20% of people had had at least one murdered individual in their household as a result of the US occupation of their country, as per a survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB). The same survey revealed that more than one million Iraqis were killed or displaced and thousands of Americans died or were wounded as a result of the war on Iraq.
Meanwhile, many veterans recall the terrible atrocities they committed during the occupation of Iraq and the WMD lies that triggered it.
'You sent us to invade the wrong country'
Tim McLaughlin, who commanded a Marine Corps tank platoon that played a part in some of the earliest war crimes of the US invasion of Iraq, said, as quoted by The Intercept, "Unfortunately, the job of the Marine Corps was killing people and destroying stuff.”
McLaughlin grappled with his experiences in Iraq in the years following the war. He eventually released his journals, which detailed the carnage and terror committed by US veterans, especially during the invasion's early days. He has also struggled with the repercussions of the war on Iraqis, who were compelled to suffer for the September 11 attacks despite having no relation to them, owing to the Bush administration's decision to invade the Middle Eastern country.
“I didn’t decide to invade Iraq. I have no negative feelings towards Iraqis at all; Where I do get frustrated is with the people who chose to do this. I just had a job. The people in Iraq were just living their lives. I do get frustrated with the people who made this decision. I mean, you sent us to invade the wrong country,” he confessed.
The primary assertion that sparked the war [Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and represented an imminent threat to the US and its allies] was quickly debunked at the beginning of the US invasion, as per the report.
What Americans imposed on the Iraqis was a lengthy, grinding military occupation and insurgency, fought without a clear objective, that gradually developed into a war that killed, injured, or displaced millions.
US veterans were involved "in a war against people who had had nothing to do with the attacks."
“For people who had enlisted in the aftermath of 9/11 with the intention of avenging the attacks, to then end up in Iraq — which had very little or nothing to do with it — it is very difficult to reconcile,” said Gregory Daddis, a former US Army colonel and veteran of both "Operation Desert Storm" and "Operation Iraqi Freedom' who later served as a military historian, as quoted by The Intercept.
'Iraq was no threat to us'
On his account, Dennis Fritz served as a US Air Force officer for 28 years before resigning in the early days of the war and admitting that "Iraq was no threat to us. I’m upset about it to this day because our service members were used as pawns.”
Several of the US officials who were responsible for the Iraq War have gone on to profitable careers as senior officials in Washington, or have capitalized on their time in government by taking well-paying jobs in the private sector.
Meanwhile, the conflict's trail of suffering continues to claim victims, mainly in the Middle East, where the consequences of the war are still felt by millions.
“But it’s not because of them that they died; it’s because of the political leaders who sent them to war on a lie. They’re the ones who should have PTSD — but they don’t. They just go off to write books and get themselves lucrative jobs,” Fritz added.
‘Bush lied. People died’
US President Joe Biden was one of the 77 senators who gave President George W. Bush the authority to use force in Iraq back in October 2002.
US military officials admitted that some troops committed abuses, claiming always independently of senior commanders, and claimed that more than 300 criminal investigations were opened in response to accusations of prisoner mistreatment and that 100 soldiers were subjected to court-martial proceedings and administrative punishments.
Washington, along with coalition forces, invaded Iraq in March 2003, after toppling Saddam Hussein, under the pretext of disarming Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, plunging Iraq into bloodshed and chaos.
The US invasion of Iraq left at least five million Iraqi orphans, murdered over one million Iraqi, forced four to five million Iraqis to flee their homes, displaced ancient Iraqi minority groups, and destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure and economy.