Iraq War a scandal, fraud pushed by US media as part of military-industrial complex: former CIA analyst
Published: Mar 20, 2023 06:24 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

Monday marked the 20th anniversary since the beginning of the US-launched Iraq War. For Iraq and the Iraqi people, the wounds and pain caused by this unjust military conflict are yet to entirely heal. What was Washington's true objective behind the Iraq War? Has the war changed the US society and political landscape? Why do some US politicians tend to make warmongering remarks with regard to China? Former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern (McGovern) discussed these issues with Global Times (GT) reporter Xia Wenxin.

GT: As an analyst with the CIA for 27 years, can you elaborate on the CIA's role in the war?

This is very sad for me to say, but not only the CIA operations people, but also the CIA analysts - the division in which I worked - are responsible for corrupting intelligence to justify an unnecessary war of aggression.

Now, I guess the best thing I can say to you is that a Senate Intelligence Committee conducted the investigation and drew the conclusion. And here, I quote the words of Jay Rockefeller, who was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. When he announced the findings, he said: "In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed."

What does non-existent intelligence look like? As you probably know, there were forgeries. There were all kinds of mechanical things that were used to justify this war, especially to associate Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 attacks. They did that by claiming that Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda. Then, of course, came the weapons of mass destruction. We analysts in retirement tell people that it was a scandal and that it was a fraud, but the American people were persuaded by our media. And that's key here. In any discussion of this kind, one must emphasize the role the media plays as part of the military-industrial complex.

GT: A recent Financial Times article argues that "the Iraq war left Western societies unchanged." Do you agree with such an assertion?

I don't usually agree with the Financial Times. But in this case, they are quite right. It was well-known that this was a fraud. It was well-known that the real objectives were not weapons of mass destruction, but permanent military bases in Iraq, oil, and Israel. But no one was held accountable, rather, some of them were promoted. And the same people are around today. Victoria Nuland, who worked for then-vice president Dick Cheney at the time, now is the No. 4 figure running the State Department. These things are very sad, but that's the reason there has been no change.

GT: When the US started the Iraq War, it claimed it would create a "friendly and democratic" Iraq and set an example for the region. What's your take on this?

The aim was not to establish democracy in Iraq, in the Middle East, or anywhere else. That was simply the reason adduced when there were no weapons of mass destruction. When there were no ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, they couldn't say that they went in there for the reasons that I mentioned, namely oil, Israel, and permanent military bases. So they invented this excuse, claiming that "we are promoting democracy there."

In my view, democracy is not something you export or that you fix on a country by virtue of attacking it or removing its leaders. That's not the way democracy is supposed to work. That was ludicrous on its face. It was simply justification that "We were promoting democracy. Saddam Hussein was not democratic. And so we did what we had to do to remove him."

The only positive effect seen in that part of the world, was the fact that Saddam Hussein was no longer any threat to Israel. Iraq, indeed, was on its back militarily. And the Israelis rejoiced, and those who were responsible and those who were under Israeli influence in our country also rejoiced.

GT: Several US officials have intensified their clamor for war against China, with some even saying that the two countries will be at war by 2025. What is the cause of this?

I don't know why the US is doing this. I guess one reason is what they call the military-industrial complex. I already mentioned that the media is an essential fulcrum in this military-industrial complex. And you make a lot of money waging war, or even just building up to wage war. Now, what lies at the bottom of all this is that you need enemies to spend more money on armaments than you do on programs of social uplift. That's precisely what America is doing. And very powerful people who have great influence in Congress, which controls the purse strings, are profiteering on arms build-up and war.

I think any objective observer would ask: "America, do you really contemplate getting into a two-front war with the two other big superpowers? Is that what you want to provoke?" And the answers from Anthony Blinken and Jake Sullivan would be that we're very exceptional; we're the best and the brightest.

Now, some of your audiences will realize that The Best and The Brightest was the name of a wonderful book written about the people that got us into Vietnam and got 3 million Vietnamese civilians and fighters, along with 58,000 US soldiers, killed. So the best and the brightest are not really bright if they come from this exceptional attitude that believes they can do whatever they want and they will prevail. Because this time, with respect to Ukraine, they're not prevailing, and that will become clearer as the weeks go by now with Russia on the march west.

GT: Regarding the Taiwan question, how do you view Washington's enhanced provocation against the Chinese mainland? 

The US officially agrees that there is only one China, and [the island of] Taiwan is a province of China. Now, what are we doing? Giving people on the island of Taiwan a false sense of security that they can do whatever they want and allow their island to be a major arms depot, a warehouse full of very sophisticated weaponry? But to use against whom?

Well, is the Chinese mainland threatening to launch a military attack on [the island of] Taiwan? I have not seen any evidence of that. I think China is very patient. But why is the US meddling? The only somewhat reasonable explanation I could get is the military-industrial complex. As long as China has a very potent navy, which it now has, we have to build up our navy. And who profiteers from that? The same defense outfits collapsed a decade ago, when Obama said that "we're pivoting to Asia, and defending against China is a major test." Because that's going to cost a lot of money, and the military-industrial complex is going to make a lot of money on it.