Ledeen doctrine, an extension of neo-imperialism


Rashid A Mughal

JONAH Goldberg, an American writer and author, writing in a newspaper column coined the term “Ledeen Doctrine”, named after neo-conservative historian Michael Ledeen. The doctrine” states: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world that we mean business.” It may be discomforting to Americans to say that millions of innocent Iraqis that the Bush administration killed in a phony war, were inspired by the “Ledeen Doctrine”. Did the US really start a war – one that cost trillions of dollars, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destabilized the region and helped create the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) – just to prove a point? More uncomfortable still is that the Bush Administration used WMDs as a cover, with fear mongering and strategic misrepresentation and lying – to exact the desired political effect. Indeed, some US economists consider the notion that the Bush Administration deliberately misled the Americans and the globe into war in Iraq to be a “conspiracy theory”, at par with beliefs that President Barack Obama was born outside the US or that the Holocaust did not occur.
But this, sadly, is no conspiracy theory. Even Bush officials have sometimes dropped their guard. Feith, CIA official, confessed in 2006 that “the rationale for the war didn’t hinge on the details of this intelligence even though the details of the intelligence at times became elements of the public presentation”. That the administration used the fear of WMDs and terrorism to fight a war for hegemony should be acknowledged by an American political establishment eager to rehabilitate George W Bush amid the rule of Donald Trump, not least because John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser, seemed eager to employ similar methods to similar ends in Iran. The rationale for the Iraq war and subsequent hostilities have been a contentious issue since the Bush Administration began actively pressing for military intervention in Iraq in late 2001. The primary rationalization for the Iraq War was articulated by a joint resolution of the US Congress known as the “Iraq Resolution”.
The US stated that the intent was to remove “a regime that developed and used weapons of mass destruction that harboured and supported terrorists, committed outrageous human rights abuses and defied the just demands of the United Nations and the world.” For the invasion of Iraq the rationale was “the United States relied on the authority of UN Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687 to use all necessary means to compel Iraq to comply with its international obligations”. In the lead-up to the invasion, the US and UK emphasized the argument that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and that he thus presented a threat to his neighbours and to the world community.
Under pressure from the US, the UN Security Council members unanimously adopted Resolution 1441. All fifteen members of the Security Council agreed to give Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its obligations and disarm or face the serious consequences of failing to disarm. The resolution strengthened the mandate of the UN Monitoring and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), giving them authority to go anywhere, at any time and talk to anyone in order to verify Iraq’s disarmament.” Throughout late 2001, 2002 and early 2003, the Bush Administration worked to build a case for invading Iraq, culminating in the then Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 2003 address to the Security Council.
Shortly after the invasion, the Central Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies largely discredited evidence related to Iraqi weapons as well as links to Al-Qaeda and at this point the Bush and Blair Administrations began to shift to secondary rationales for the war, such as the Saddam Hussein government’s human rights record and promoting democracy in Iraq. Opinion polls showed that people of nearly all countries opposed a war without UN mandate and that the view of the United States as a danger to world peace had significantly increased. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the war as illegal, saying in a September 2004 interview that it was “not in conformity with the Security Council.” Accusations of faulty evidence and alleged shifting rationales became the focal point for critics of the war, who charge that the Bush Administration purposely fabricated evidence to justify an invasion that it had long planned to launch.
The United States officially declared its combat role in Iraq over on August 31, 2010, although several thousand troops remained in the country until all American troops were withdrawn from Iraq by December 2011. Meanwhile American troops were also engaged in combat with Iraqi insurgents. In June 2014, however, US forces were reinstated in Iraq due to the escalation of instability in the region and as of June 2015, the number of American ground troops totalled to 3,550. Between December 2011 and June 2014, Department of Defence officials estimated that there were 200 to 300 personnel based at the US Embassy in Baghdad. After the recent attack on US Embassy in January 2020 and target killing of Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, more troops have been dispatched to Iraq.
But in a dramatic development, the Iraqi Parliament voted for immediate withdrawal of American troops. Demonstrations and daily protests in Iraq continue but Trump has rejected these demands and declared that he would impose sanctions on Iraq too, like Iran and would keep the American troops to control the Iraqi oil. So the very purpose for which the war was actually started, came out from Trump himself at a press conference in October 2019, thus strengthening the widely believed perception that it was only for control of Iraqi oil and WMD bogey was only used as lame excuse. The big question is, will somebody hold some one accountable for spilling the bold of innocent children, mothers, fathers and young teens of Iraq who were killed in cold blood and without any fault.
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.