In an effort to muster Washington’s European allies in an “isolation” and sanctions campaign against Russia, US President Barack Obama has defended the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
During a speech in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday, Obama said Washington at least tried to seek approval from the United Nations before it invaded Iraq. The US invasion of Iraq was not sanctioned by the UN and several experts say it violated any standard reading of international law.
“America sought to work within the international system,” Obama said, referring to a presentation to the UN in 2003 by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in which he gave a detailed description of Iraqi weapons programs that turned out not to exist.
Under the pretext that former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction, the US and its allies invaded Iraq in March 2003. In October 2004, however, a CIA report revealed that Saddam Hussein did not possess any weapons of mass destruction at the time of the invasion.
Obama defended the invasion of Iraq as he described a March 16 referendum in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in which people overwhelmingly voted to break away from Ukraine and rejoin Russia as illegal and “outside the boundaries of international law.”
“We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain,” added Obama. However, according to Ryan Grim writing for the Huffington Post, Washington forced privatization upon Iraq’s state-owned oil industry after the invasion and required the country to accept foreign ownership of the industry.
Grim also writes that the word “ours” used by Obama requires some clarification because American taxpayers were worse off by Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while contractors like Halliburton, a company where former Vice President Dick Cheney served as CEO, reaped tremendous gains.