Iraq still in shadow of war 20 years later


China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2023-03-21 18:15:09

By Nie Shuyi


File photo: A public cemetery in Fallujah, Iraq. After 20 years of war and conflicts, it is difficult to find a person in Iraq who has no loved ones lost. (Photo from The New York Times)


In the early morning of March 20, 2003, the United States brazenly launched a major attack of Iraq. The Iraq War is a war of aggression unilaterally launched by the United States and the United Kingdom without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council. Two decades later, Iraq is still struggling in the quagmire and shadow left by the war, and the peace and prosperity promised have never arrived.


Over the past 20 years, the war has caused profound disasters to Iraq. According to the Costs of War project of the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University in the United States, between 185,000 and 208,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the Iraq War launched in 2003, and countless Iraqi families and tens of millions more have also been affected by the nightmarish chaos and post-war trauma.


According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data, more than 9 million Iraqis have been reduced to the homeless or international refugees due to the war.


The New York Times quoted data from the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO) on March 18 as saying that at present, the unemployment rate of young Iraqis is as high as over 1/3, and 1/4 of Iraqis live below the poverty line.


In addition to the humanitarian disaster, it is also difficult to restore Iraq to calm in terms of political and security situation. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, the United States tried to build Iraq into the so-called "democratic model in the Middle East" with the Western democratic system as a template, but this dragged Iraq into political chaos in which sectarian violence, ethnic antagonisms, and factional conflicts are hard to reconcile.


In particular, after the legislative elections of Iraq in October 2021, the domestic political struggle got dramatically intensified, resulting in the delay in the birth of a new president and the long-term shelving of national legislature formation. At the end of August 2022, the continued political stalemate and protests eventually developed into a sanguinary conflict that caused heavy casualties.


Over the past 20 years, the West Asia and North African region has been continuously mired in war and turmoil by the Iraq War. The war not only subverted the internal order in Iraq, but also caused serious spillover effects in the region. It disrupted the balance between the Shiites and the Sunnis in Iraq, and contributed to the spread of terrorism in the region, resulting in many undesirable consequences, exacerbating the crisis in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and ultimately leading to the Arab Spring, wave of pro-democracy protests and uprisings that took place in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


In addition, under the civil strife in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State Terrorist Organization has taken advantage of the situation and wreaked havoc in both countries since 2013, causing enormous damage and humanitarian disasters. To this day, the organization continues to perpetrate terrorist attacks in regional countries including Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and has branches located in areas like Nigeria and the Philippines.


At the same time, the war has also intensified the geopolitical game between foreign powers and regional powers in West Asia and North Africa, plunging Yemen, Libya, Syria, and other countries into long-term civil strife, with influence spreading to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and so on.


The United States has waged the war on the pretext that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, but so-called weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found. According to data from the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit organization in the United States, President Bush and top administration officials made a total of 935 false public statements at least about Iraq’s alleged national security threat in the two years following the 9/11 attacks.


The constant lies made by the United States government have ultimately made it suffer the consequences. Luis Rueda, the head of the Iraq Operations Team of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States, once stated that for the United States, the issue of weapons of mass destruction was secondary to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. "Even if Saddam Hussein had a rubber band and a paper clip, we would still invade Iraq." This unscrupulous practice of deceiving the public in order to achieve political goals has ultimately undermined public trust in the United States government.


It is regrettable that Western politicians, represented by the United States, not only failed to reflect on this devastating war, but also tried to conceal or even distort the facts with words. Twenty years ago, the United States waged war with lies, which eventually destroyed the lives of Iraqis; Twenty years later, the United States sought so-called "absolute security" to realize its hegemony in Europe, sending Ukraine into the vortex of war. If the United States remains addicted to imperial arrogance and the endless pursuit of hegemony, it will only create more "Iraq Wars" in the future and ultimately drag itself into the abyss of disaster.


Editor's note: Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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