This week marks the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, when US-led troops entered the city of Baghdad with the goal of toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime and destroying the country’s weapons of mass destruction. The invasion was relatively brief: Baghdad fell weeks later, and on May 1 then-U.S. president George W. Bush declared that the mission was accomplished. The weapons of mass destruction were not found, but the goal of the invasion shifted to stabilizing Iraq and solidifying it as a Western ally. The invasion and occupation claimed the lives of 4,487 U.S. combat troops, 179 UK servicemen and women, between 97,461 and 106,348 Iraqi civilians and displaced an estimated 1.6 million Iraqis. The invasion cost the U.S. between from $802 billion to $3 trillion (figures from the BBC).
There have since been countless opinions and commentaries decrying and defending the invasion, but it’s the reportage from men and women on the ground, risking their lives to inform, that shines through the cacophony of opinions and politically-loaded discourse. Below, we present a collection of articles from our Maclean’s archive on the invasion of Iraq, including reporting on Jean Chrétien‘s negotiation with George W. Bush, an inquiry into anti-Canadian sentiments in Vermont, an exploration of Arab sentiments and the unexpected casualties of the invasion.
Canada Likely to Join U.S. in War against Iraq, September 23, 2002
When the U.S. announced their intentions to invade Iraq, Canada was faced with a choice – whether to join or hold out. Then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien met with George Bush laying out his concerns: Canada needed evidence linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations before supporting a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Urged by Chrétien to take his case to the UN Security Council, Bush made his appeal, but to no avail. When the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their efforts to gain UN sanction, Jean Chrétien announced that Canada would not participate in the Iraq invasion.
U.S. Attack on Iraq Angers Arabs, March 31, 2003
Published shortly after the invasion of Iraq, Jonathon Gatehouse’s reportage gives an inside look at the Arab response to the invasion and the ensuing events that follow. In Jordan, hoards of students take to the streets chanting anti-US slogans, while its King tries to balance its country’s US-backed interests with the seething emotion of the people. An elder statesman of the Islamic Action Front warns that protests will grow: “We have only a few centimetres of freedom here…we are using it.” While U.S. and British embassies have suspended operations, the Red Cross begins work on two camps for displaced people, struggling to gather necessary resources in a country already weakened by more than a decade of international sanctions.
A Montreal reporter with a self-proclaimed “impossible-to-conceal French accent” ventures to Vermont to gauge Americans’ feelings towards Canada in light of some public sparring over Canada’s anti-war stance. Submitting himself to a radio call-in show hosted by a right-wing demagogue, he discovers that Vermonters are far more conciliatory than he’d thought. “Vermont is the most Canadian state in the union, so if you hear Canada-bashing here, it means it has gone really bad everywhere else,” opines one Canadian transplant.
Jordan’s Economy Hit by Iraq War, April 14, 2003
Despite not seeing any bombs or missiles, neighbouring Jordan may have suffered some of the worst collateral damage from the Iraq invasion. Its economy plunged to frightening lows, tourism dried up, and poverty was rising in a country where one-third of the population survives on less than $1.50 a day.
U.S. Torture Scandal in Iraq, May 17, 2004 (devolves into gruesome, degenerate face)
One year after George W. Bush announced that Operation Iraqi Freedom was accomplished, the U.S. was hit by a PR nightmare. Surfaced photographs of U.S. military personnel torturing and humiliating prisoners of war in Abu Ghraib prison scandalized Americans and lead to mounting international anger, pressure to withdraw from Iraq and a sinking belief in the entire enterprise. The occupation was unravelling.
Lewis Mackenzie Speaks Out, August 23, 2004
In 2004 when public opinion had turned against the U.S. occupation of Iraq, few prominent Canadians were willing to throw their support behind the invasion. But retired Major General Lewis Mackenzie, the former commander of the UN forces in Sarajevo, was one of those rare birds. He argued that even if the reasons for invasion weren’t totally justified, the war was still just.
Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on Canadian-American Relations, Terrorism and the War on Terror 10 Years On. Visit the Memory Project for more on Canada’s participation in the Second World War and Korean War.