Never, ever think that war solves problems. It multiplies them.
Before the illegal and immoral US invasion, Iraq was a garden-variety dictatorship, similar to at least 30 other countries around the world, where dissent was suppressed but society was basically functional.
Now, it’s a wreck. And of course, US mainstream media only talk about the impact on Americans: the US soldiers (and their mercenaries) who died or were wounded or who suffered post-traumatic stress, and their families who are impacted by the hurt to these brave men and women. The impact of the war on the people of Iraq is rarely talked about.
An article by John tirman in the November 15 Washington Spectator (not yet posted on the newsletter’s website) lays out some of the litany of chaos and devastation. A few “highlights”:
- Somewhere between 400,000 and a million deaths, many of them civilian
- 3.5 million to 5 million displaced refugees
- Massive, widespread infrastructure and support failures including health care, education, clean water, sanitation, and electricity
- Thousands of desperate Iraqi women and girls turning to prostitution
- 750,000 impoverished widows
- A legacy of corruption that diverted millions of dollars from the US economy into the hands of a few well-placed privileged Iraqis, while the services being paid for either went undelivered or were so shoddy as to be useless
- And of course, widespread hatred and fanaticism directed against the West in general, and the US in particular, and a huge rise around the world in the worst kinds of extreme Islamic fundamentalism—it’s a lot easier to recruit a teenage suicide bomber or terrorist when that person is furious that you killed a close friend or relative
The first five bullets come directly from the article, “How Will We Remember Operation Iraqi Freedom?” The last two points are my own analysis. The stats that follow come from another article in the same issue, “Left Behind,” by editor Lou Dubose.
While the war was entirely a creation of George W. Bush and his advisors (particularly Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney), it hasn’t really gotten better under Obama. His withdrawal process has been slow and incomplete, and he’s leaving behind a “diplomatic” apparatus big enough to run a small country: 17,000 people including 650 American diplomats, in the largest embassy in the world (not counting several satellites around Iraq), with a $6 billion budget and another $13 billion in private contracts.
And why has Obama steadfastly refused to even consider war crimes trials?