Twenty years since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq

March 20, 2023, marks 20 years since the beginning of the US invasion of Iraq. From the initial horrific “shock and awe” bombing campaign, through the invasion and subsequent occupation, some one million Iraqis died and the entire society was devastated.

At the time of the initial invasion of Iraq, the WSWS published many statements on the background of the war, the lies used to justify it and its implications. This page features some of the most important statements.

The war against Iraq was part of three decades of unending war that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was preceded by the first Gulf War (1990-91), the bombing of Serbia (1999) and the invasion of Afghanistan (2001). It was followed by the bombing of Libya (2011) and the US-backed war in Syria (2011).

In the preface of A Quarter Century of War: The US drive for global hegemony: 1990-2016 David North, the Chairman of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site, wrote:

The last quarter century of US-instigated wars must be studied as a chain of interconnected events. The strategic logic of the US drive for global hegemony extends beyond the neocolonial operations in the Middle East and Africa. The ongoing regional wars are component elements of the rapidly escalating confrontation of the United States with Russia and China.

As the world marks the 20th anniversary of the war against Iraq, the US and NATO powers are relentlessly escalating their war against Russia. At the same time, the US is preparing the ground for a military confrontation with China.

The statements, essays and articles included on this page are essential not only for understanding the war in Iraq itself, but the fundamental social, historical and political issues behind the eruption of imperialism.

US 1st Marine Regiment with Iraqi prisoners of war in Iraqi desert on March 21, 2003 [Photo: United States Marine Corps]
The WSWS’ response to the invasion of Iraq
“Weapons of mass destruction” and the run-up to war

In advance of the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration employed increasingly brazen lies, centered on the claims that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda and possessed “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD).

On February 5, US Secretary of State Colin Powell made his infamous address to the United Nations Security Council. In a statement the next day, headlined “Powell's UN speech triggers countdown to war against Iraq,” the WSWS Editorial Board subjected his brief for war to a thorough analysis, noting that it “was predicated on a colossal lie: that the coming invasion is about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Baghdad’s supposed threat to US security and world peace.”

These lies were wilfully repeated by the American media, whose integral role in laying the groundwork for the war reached its logical conclusion once the conflict began. The media maintained an unprecedented and obedient censorship of the human suffering imposed on Iraq, and willingly participated in the invasion via hundreds of so-called “embedded journalists.”

US Secretary of State Powell holds a model vial of anthrax as he makes the case for war against Iraq at the UN
David North denounces Iraq War at 2004 debate in Dublin

The Philosophical Society of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland held its annual debate on American foreign policy on the evening of October 14, 2004. The proposition debated before an audience of more than 200 people was: “This House Believes that America is Still the World’s Peacekeeper.”

WSWS Chairman David North spoke in opposition to the proposition. Other speakers opposing the resolution included Irish Senator David Norris, Chris Marsden, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in Britain, and Leonard Doyle, the foreign editor of the Independent newspaper in Britain.

David North speaks at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland on October 14, 2004
The mass protests against the Iraq war
The Iraq War: The murder of a society
Torture at Abu Ghraib