"pulling out"... the US has over a dozen deep desert bases in Iraq. These are never mentioned, but are fully staffed and maintained. These are
Then again, there's the issue of "contractors" (=mercenaries). The announcement doesn't mention them. Mercenaries have taken over more and more
of the duties previously performed by soldiers.
So the US is not pulling out, and any moves to show they are are cosmetic.
As for the legacy...
Can I briefly make a plea for people to get their damn facts straight? A hundred million Iraqis killed? Iraq's entire population, pre-invasion, was
somewhere in the low 30 millions, maybe 33-34 million. I don't disagree with the point that was being made... which makes it all the more annoying
because by putting up an inaccurate fact you destroy the argument.
So, estimates differ but it's safe to say over ONE million (NOT a hundred million) people have been killed since the invasion. There's also
estimates of 2-3 million who have become refugees. That's easily ten percent of the population either killed or displaced.
Another aspect of the legacy which shouldn't be left out is depleted uranium
. Thanks to the good efforts of our troops Iraq is now polluted
with the stuff, which will stay around for hundreds of thousands of years. DU not only has a very long half-life, it's also extremely toxic. The
two factors together cause hideous birth defects. The US stood by while the health ministry and many hospitals in Baghdad were looted in the early
days of the occupation. The cynics at the time said this was to get rid of previous health statistics so you couldn't show a huge spike in birth
defects. I pretty much agree with that.
The corporations have of course paid for the war and want to influence its outcome. Monsanto have managed to make it mandatory for Iraqi farmers to
buy their seed, which, unlike more natural kinds, cannot be re-seeded so farmers have to buy from Monsanto every year. There are many other similar
provisions that mean that Iraq has basically been split open like a pinyata for the corporations.
Then of course there's the sectarian conflict. Contrary to the images pumped out by the media, sectarian conflict was a dead issue under Saddam.
It's important to recognise that there may have been tribal conflicts that broke down somewhat on sectarian lines, but this is coincidental to some
Riverbend, the Iraqi girl blogger, said that it was hardly ever spoken about before the invasion. Her family, among many others, had married across
But after an announcement from Sunni and Shia leaders in early summer 2003 that their flocks should unite to resist the invaders, US and UK forces
began a campaign to sow dissent. There followed mosque bombings and of course the incident in which two UK soldiers were arrested by Iraqi police
because they were driving a car full of explosives and dressed in Arab garb.
Shortly after that, John Negroponte, architect of death squads throughout central America, showed up: and shortly after that, the death squads showed
up: people "dressed as police" would show up and take people away and shoot them.
"Dressed as police"... no, they were
Iraq was a very secular place before the invasion. Riverbend's blog contains a really depressing entry where she tries to get her old job back as a
computer tech. There are new people in charge and women are no longer able to work there. She also says that whereas before the invasion women could
walk the streets dressed in Western clothes and bareheaded, after the occupation had been in place a few months, zealot thugs harassed and physically
hurt women who dared to do so.
This is all just scratching the surface. But a brief and incomplete list of the legacy ought to include the following:
- killing or displacing 10% of the population
- polluting the country with DU
- destroying a functioning economy
- stealing the oil
- giving corporations control over the Iraqi people
- reintroducing death squads
- fomenting sectarian violence
- vandalism and destroying infrastructure
- creating a situation that allows fundamentalists to acquire power
- ruining any progress women made over the past 30 years.