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Iraq: openSecurity looks in the archive

The collection of articles below sample the impassioned debate on openDemocracy at the start of the war in Iraq - concerns which proved largely irrelevant to the architects of the invasion and occupation. They reflect the cross-current of dialogue within many communities about the war’s place in modern Iraqi history, while situating the intervention against the larger international democratic project.

Ten years later, debates continue over incrimination of the UN, the smokescreen of Western intentions, the utterly destructive civilian toll and the role of civil society in challenging the monopolization of power. Moreover, these conversations have found new meaning in the devastating events in neighbouring Syria.


The human cost of war: name before shame

A precise record of the individual victims of war and conflict worldwide is emerging as a key objective of humanitarian work, says John Sloboda.

My Lai to Haditha: war, massacre and justice

A thread of degenerate war and military impunity links atrocities in the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts, says Martin Shaw.

Reform or die: the United Nations as second superpower

The world needs a reformed United Nations, empowered by global activism and principled governments, that can challenge United States hegemony, says Phyllis Bennis.

Iraq and chemical weapons: a view from the inside

In both the United States and Britain, there is passionate contest over the legitimacy and honesty of government attempts to justify war with Iraq – especially claims of the existence of active Iraqi chemical weapons programmes. In an interview of profound insight, the man responsible for chemical weapons destruction operations in Iraq from 1991-94 talks to Anthony Barnett and Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy about the true extent of Iraq’s capacity to produce, store and deliver weapons of mass destruction.

The myth of a clean war - and its real motive


The immediate US purpose is to destroy the Saddam regime. This, no less than the weapons used to fight it, guarantees that the Iraq war will have a heavy human cost in the short term. Behind the war, the search for military and oil security is impelling a broader US agenda for regional control. This ensures further violence in the long term.

Marching to hell


The London march against war of 15 February was impressive but confused, and desperately naïve. It filled the roads with good intentions and we all know where they lead.

One image keeps cropping up in my mind. It is perhaps the only happy image I have of Saturday 15 February. At the mass mud-caked rally in Hyde Park a single rather unhappy-looking Brit with his misted glasses askew was holding a sign ‘We’ll keep off the grass, Tony, if you keep off the sand’. It was perhaps the only witty comment of the day.

From a young Iraqi: an open letter to the peace movement


The huge campaign against war in Iraq offers no comfort to this young Iraqi woman. She has no illusions about US power. But in the face of a people longing for liberation from Saddam's terrible rule, how can the peace movement turn its back?

The rise and fall of civil society in Iraq

Iraq's rich social, political and cultural life in the mid-20th century has been crushed in the decades of Saddam Hussein's rule. Now that his regime faces a terminal crisis, what resources from this earlier period remain as the possible foundation of a post-Ba'athist order? Sami Zubaida examines the buried legacies of Iraq's modern history.

Iraq after Saddam: two generations in dialogue


What should be done about Saddam Hussein's regime? Two Iraqi exiles of different generations and views discuss the best way forward for a country now on the brink of decisive change.

War on Iraq: an impending refugee crisis?


The impact of war and disaster on populations, and the record of international agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in dealing with them, receive too little attention in the mainstream media. Here, we focus on the humanitarian implications of a likely war on Iraq.

Ending the silence


The US debate on war with Iraq is spreading. The key issues - interests of Iraq's people, justice and morality of war, US power and UN role - were discussed at a major New York University event on 22 November. Two observers summarise and critique the panelists' views.

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