Post-American Iraq by the Numbers

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Washington this week, in something of a commemoration of the withdrawal of all US troops from his country. As the American War on Iraq draws to a close, the Neoconservatives have been trying one last time to depict one of the modern world’s great catastrophes, the Bush Administration invasion and occupation of Iraq, as a shining success story.

They even allege that the Arab uprisings of 2011 were inspired by Iraq (though they seem at the same time to go back and forth about whether the uprisings are even a good thing). In fact, virtually no one in the Arab world wants their country to look like Iraq.

Because the US media focuses on personalities instead of on social realities, they find it easy to go on interviewing Dick Cheney (who should be in jail), rather than reporting on what exactly Iraq looks like. If we examine some basic social statistics, the reasons for which American Iraq is not considered a model by other Arabs becomes blindingly obvious. For one thing, Iraq still suffers from a steady drumbeat of violence, with regular bombings and other attacks. Indeed, the monthly death toll in political and guerrilla violence for Iraqis is broadly similar to that in Afghanistan, an active war zone!

Moreover, the American public still for the most part has no idea what the United States did to that country, and until we Americans take responsibility for the harm we do others with our perpetual wars, we can never recover from our war sickness, which drives us to resort to violence in international affairs in a way no other democracy routinely does.

Population of Iraq: 30 million.

Number of Iraqis killed in attacks in November 2011: 187

Average monthly civilian deaths in Afghanistan War, first half of 2011: 243

Percentage of Iraqis who lived in slum conditions in 2000: 17

Percentage of Iraqis who live in slum conditions in 2011: 50

Number of the 30 million Iraqis living below the poverty line: 7 million.

Number of Iraqis who died of violence 2003-2011: 150,000 to 400,000.

Orphans in Iraq: 4.5 million.

Orphans living in the streets: 600,000.

Number of women, mainly widows, who are primary breadwinners in family: 2 million.

Iraqi refugees displaced by the American war to Syria: 1 million

Internally displaced [pdf] persons in Iraq: 1.3 million

Proportion of displaced persons who have returned home since 2008: 1/8

Rank of Iraq on Corruption Index among 182 countries: 175

46 Responses

    • @ Navid

      Oh don’t go citing the refuted Lancet Report. I also find it a bit disturbing that Juan simply lumps “Iraqis” into one big category, not differentiating from combatants and civilians, and who was responsible for them.

      Take, for example, 2006 statistics:

      Iraqi civilians killed (all deliberately) in 2006 by the Iraqi resistance: 16,791.
      Iraqi civilians killed (all accidentally) in 2006 by Americans: 225.

      I merely would like a differentiation between the two — and who caused which and what their intentions were. Quantifying the number dead is a gross task, granted, but I’ve come to find it necessary in these types of conversations, sadly.

      • I also find it a bit disturbing that Juan simply lumps “Iraqis” into one big category, not differentiating from combatants and civilians, and who was responsible for them.

        Well, yes and no. Point taken about the vast majority of these Iraqi casualties not being deliberately killed by Americans – and that, in fact, most of them were killed by other Iraqis in the ethnic cleansing, or by foreign jihadists in their terror campaign against Shiites, or by the Iraqi resistance fighting against the Iraq state.

        HOWEVER, and there’s a big HOWEVER, we set the stage for this with our invasion. Our invasion and occupation attracted the jihadists (remember “fly paper?” Remember “fight them in Baghdad so we don’t have to fight them in Boston?”) It was our occupation and attempt to govern the country that they set out to destroy by sparking a Shitte-Sunni civil war.

        And keep in mind, we invaded Iraq for the purpose of bringing about political change there. The difference between Saddam’s Iraq and post-Saddam Iraq was the purpose and justification for the war – so pointing out what a catastrophe Iraq is still an indictment of the operation, even if most of those deaths weren’t directly caused by American fire.

  1. These statistics are appalling, but there are several things which we should bear in mind when reading them.

    Consider Saddam’s track record:

    (i) The Anfal campaign against the Kurds – HRW estimate betwen 50,00-100,000 deaths. 2,000 villages were destroyed, as well as dozens of towns and administrative centres, including Qala Dizeh which had had 70,000 residents, use of chemical and nerve agents against civilians, the near- total destruction of Kurdish assets and infrastructure; and the abandonment of large numbers of vulnerable people.

    (ii) The Marsh Arabs: numbers of refugees outside Iraq estimated as 70,000-150,000

    (iii) Estimates as to the number killed in the crushing of the 1991 rebellion: 60,000 to 200,00

    (iv) Estimates as to the number of Iraqis executed by Saddam’s regime vary from 300-500,000 to over 600,000

    (v) Estimates for the number of dead in the Iran-Iraq war range upwards from 300,000.

    No doubt a significant proportion of number of orphans and widows cited in the article is due not to the 2003 war and its aftermath, but to events orchestrated by Saddam.

    We should also ask what would have happened had Saddam remained in power. Of course this is conjecture, but had he continued as before then it would seem reasonable to suppose that the number of deaths would have run into the 100s of thousands, with corresponding numbers of widows, orphans and displaced people.

    Much of the violence post 2003 has been inflicted by Al-Qaeda affiliated groups. It may be argued that Western intervention created the conditions in which these groups could conduct violent campaigns, but it is still not obvious why all the casualties they inflicted should be attributed to Western intervention.

    Regarding corruption. Was it the case that there was minimal corruption under Saddam? It might well be that the current corruption simply perpetuates a long term pattern and has little to do with Western intervention.

    Again, should the venality and incompetence of much of Iraq’s governmental apparatus with its consequent impact all aspects of social development be blamed solely on the Americans. Do not the Iraqis themselves have some part in this?

    An obvious benefit of intervention is that the level of terror and violence inflicted by the present government on the Iraqi people is vastly less than that routinely inflicted by Saddam.

    A related point is that for the first time in many decades, however grudgingly and falteringly, different political groups in Iraq are tolerating each other’s existence rather than engaging in brutal attempts to crush all opposition.

    That Western intervention failed to create a peaceful, prosperous, low-corruption democracy cannot be doubted, but that Western intervention created a situation worse than that which would have prevailed were Saddam to have remained in power is definitely open to question.

    Indeed, if we look to the future, we might ask which is worse, the prospects offered by the present situation, or a future in which a Saddam-Uday regime would either have continued along its brutal course or would have been violently overthrown.

    • Yes indeed let us consider that and once we’ve done considering you can push out your chest with pride at the fact that record in Irak of the government and people of the United States of America and their armed forces is worse than that of Saddam.

      I know what the place was like under Saddam – I lived there. I saw what the sanctions did and experienced at first hand the viciousness of the American officials enforcing it, (and don’t even think of trying to pretend that the U.N. was a free agent in the sanctions the sanctions were an American effort). Tell me Nick what about the more than ½ million very young children who died directly as a result of the American led and enforced sanctions? Do they count? Or do you agree with President Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who said that their deaths were “worth it”?

      I also know what the place was like after the invasion and for the same reason – I’ve seen at first hand the arrogance and viciousness with which the American forces behave.

      I hope you’re really proud of yourself Nick that the record of the government and people of the United States of America and their armed forces is worse than that of a man so evil that “vile” does not even begin to describe him.

      But thank you Nick Reeves for your weasel words and your list of neocon talking points. I’m really grateful to you for providing such an excellent example of why America and Americans are loathed in the country that your country cynically, viciously, with malice, and with forethought turned into a very good facsimile of hell.

        • The figure of slightly over ½ million babies, infants, and other children under the age of 5 who died as a direct result of the sanctions is admitted to both by the American government and by the U.N.

          And yes I have read Spagat’s article in full, want to try some other diversionary tactic as that one didn’t work?

      • Or do you agree with President Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who said that their deaths were “worth it”?

        This is a misrepresentation of Albright’s position. She said she thought the effects of the sanctions were “worth it,” but she disputed that claim that there had been half a million deaths caused by them.

        • No it is not a misrepresentation of her position. Which I note you have avoided quoting:

          Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

          Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.

          –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

          Perhaps she was horrified by the fact that she’d inadvertently told the truth.

          Those interested and with a strong stomach can watch her calmly dismiss the deaths of more than ½ million babies, infants, and other children under the age of 5 as “worth it” at the following URI:

          link to youtube.com

          It’s just one of many cynically vicious remarks made about the peoples of the Middle East by American Secretaries of State such as the pack of lies knowingly told by Colin Powell to the U.N. and Condoleeza Rice’s barbaric “birth pangs” commment.

        • No it is not a misrepresentation of her position.

          It is, indeed.

          She made it quite clear that she was responding to the question of whether the effects of the sanctions were “worth it,” not the claim about the number, which she explicitly clarified she didn’t agree with.

          Of course, you know this. You’re just deliberately trying to hide that fact.

      • “And yes I have read Spagat’s article in full, want to try some other diversionary tactic as that one didn’t work?”

        What diversionary tactic?, I merely pointed out that a recent study took issue with the claim of half a million deaths and convincingly argued that it is unlikely to be true.

        • And this despite the fact that the U.N. has admitted the figure to be correct. Your diversionary tactic of citing Spagat’s article won’t work in the light of the inconvenient fact that the organisation which ran the sanctions at the behest of the U.S. government admits to the figure. Spagat’s article is an outlier as well you know.

      • “And this despite the fact that the U.N. has admitted the figure to be correct. Your diversionary tactic of citing Spagat’s article won’t work in the light of the inconvenient fact that the organisation which ran the sanctions at the behest of the U.S. government admits to the figure. Spagat’s article is an outlier as well you know.”

        If you bothered to read the article, as you claimed you did, you would have realised that the most recent UN funded and sponsered studies did not back up the original claims of half a million deaths and that the half million deaths figure is the outlier as shown in the articles last graph.

    • We should also ask what would have happened had Saddam remained in power. Of course this is conjecture, but had he continued as before then it would seem reasonable to suppose that the number of deaths would have run into the 100s of thousands, with corresponding numbers of widows, orphans and displaced people.

      But, of course, as of 2002, he couldn’t have “continued as before.” All of the events you cite happened at least a decade before Operation Iraqi Freedom. The No-Fly Zone and No-Drive Zone and other containment efforts had long since rendered him incapable of carrying out such atrocities. Heck, he couldn’t even stop the weakest group in the country, the Kurds, from setting up a quasi-independent state allied with the US inside Iraqi territory.

      Much of the violence post 2003 has been inflicted by Al-Qaeda affiliated groups. It may be argued that Western intervention created the conditions in which these groups could conduct violent campaigns, but it is still not obvious why all the casualties they inflicted should be attributed to Western intervention.

      Since the purpose of the war was to bring about political changes in Iraq, this argument that we should not judge it by the consequences of the political changes it brought about is a non-starter.

      • Seems like a bit of ‘splitting hairs ‘ here.

        “She made it quite clear that she was responding to the question of whether the effects of the sanctions were “worth it,” not the claim about the number, which she explicitly clarified she didn’t agree with.” …she thought the sanctions were ‘worth it’ in the full knowledge that they had resulted in the death of half a million babies?!

        I don’t think that can be shrugged of with a ‘meh’ – collateral damage.

        • “she thought the sanctions were ‘worth it’ in the full knowledge that they had resulted in the death of half a million babies?!”

          No, she DENIED that the policies had resulted in the death of a half million children. (Oh, and “babies?” Heck, even Stahls’ “some have said” statement wasn’t about “babies.”)

        • The sanctions death toll is disputed, but is most likely in the low hundreds of thousands. What shouldn’t be disputed is that the US intended the sanctions to cause civilian suffering while of course denying it. The policy had its birth in the bombing campaign of Gulf War I, as shown by Barton Gellman in a June 23 1991 article he wrote for the Washington Post (you can find it online). The bombing damaged Iraqi infrastructure and the sanctions were meant to prevent repair.

          As for Albright, obviously any American political hack would deny that our policy had killed 500,000 or 100,000 or 200,000 children. But she did say “the price was worth it”, so yeah, she had a moment of honesty and then tried to take it back.

      • Joe, might it be additive accuracy to note that another significant purpose of the Iraq thing was to take, as in TAKE, all that oil, which “we” were assured would be “ours,” to reimburse “ourselves” for the cost of sending in the army “we” had, not the one we might wish we had?

        • I’m sure the oil angle played some role, but I really do think it was less important that security/geopolitical concerns. It has subsequently come out that the administration intended Iraq to be the first of three wars to topple the governments of the “Axis of Evil,” the other two being Iran and North Korea. We certainly wouldn’t invade North Korea for oil, but to eliminate a hostile country that was viewed as a threat.

          And Bush really did pull the American troops off the bases in Saudi Arabia, at the request of the Bush family’s very close friends in the House of Saud.

  2. I wouldn’t call it “shining” but just “success story”: complete destabilization of Iraq. That was the goal.

    • I think you’re just declaring that whatever outcome presented itself must have been the goal from the beginning.

      It would be much more in keeping with the historical evidence, both from Iraq and from other American regime-change efforts, to conclude that the purpose was not a destabilized Iraq, but a stable client state in which to base the troops that we were moving out of Saudi Arabia.

  3. And American apathy to these statistics is breathtaking. But let’s face it – if you believe in justice, if you believe that the law should have real and unprejudiced application, if you believe we should be more sentimental about the law than about personalities, you doom yourself to frustration.

    Geneva? Quaint! Nuremburg? That’s so pre-9/11. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ICC? So not in American interest. The Constitution? We’ll only bring it out when we swear oaths to it that we intend to break, or when Tea Partiers run around with Lipton bags from three cornered hats demanding an end to taxes.

    So, you and I suffer far more consequences for driving 38 in a 25 zone than Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Wolfowitz, Addington, Cheney, Feith, and a host of other bloody-minded specimens do for destroying whole peoples, nations, and cultures – indeed, even worse, they rake in vast sums on books deals and speaking engagements (failing up up and away!) and speak about the destruction of the Mid-East as though it were just another line on their Silver-Spooned resumes.

    I brought this up to my rep at a town meeting and he spoke some argle-bargle about not putting the country through “that” (by which, I presume, he meant the process of accountability for the war criminals among us). Yet we have seen fit to put Iraq through a meat grinder – literally. And dammit, it is time to stand up and say that the crimes that proceed from war are every bit as intentional as premeditated rape or first degree murder. And this is a fact that has been known for centuries. Thucydides observed, in essence, that to go to war is to open a door into a dark room; Sallust had Cato the Younger observe in his War against Catiline that everyone knows the general horrors of war “temples are destroyed, women and children sold into slavery, the flower of youth put to the sword”. It is no less true for us – “collateral damage” is a known quantity, hence the use of force against a population, for all intents and purposes (as far as I am concerned), represents a willful crime (above all if the war, as ours was, is aggressive and committed on utterly false pretenses), from which emerged such episodes as the siege of Fallujah and the embrace of torture.

    But this is the disease of our national character – just ask the Cherokee nation, the Phillipines, the Nicaraguans. And while you are at it, ask those for whom there is not enough money to feed, educate, and house properly in our own country. The cure will only start when the ring of power apparently seized by a sociopathic elite (of assorted militarists, industrialists, politicians, and media shills) has been cast into the fires of an authentic and ardent democracy.

    • “And American apathy to these statistics is breathtaking.” Would it have been so if the MSM would have actually reported over the years what was really going on the facts on the ground in Iraq. Because we know they did not. I have to believe that people would have reacted differently based on how many hundreds of thousands marched before

      Hundreds of thousands of us (millions accumulati­vely across the nation and 30 million around the world) marched, protested, lobbied our Reps before the invasion based on a “pack of lies” Some of us were interested­. The hundreds of people that I talked with and audio taped at these marches were there because they had heard former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, IAEA’s El Baradei, Zbiniew Bryzinski, Jimmy Carter, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Katheen and Bill Christison­, Seymour Hersh question the validity of the intelligen­ce. Some journalist tried to get the info out like Jason Vest at the Nation in the fall of 2002 tried to warn us about the sources of the false intelligen­ce link to www­.thenation­.com

      Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people are dead, injured and millions are displaced as a direct consequenc­e of that bloody illegal and immoral invasion and still no one has been held accountabl­e.

      Granted the MSM and our government learned from Vietnam was not to show people the pictures of what was going on…don’t count their dead and injured (which thank the heavens that Juan Cole, the Lancet report and others have been reporting on) but generally nothing out of the MSM

      Now Obama and team repeating “move on, next chapter, turn the page” We are talking about war crimes here ..an intelligen­ce snowjob not lies under oath about blowjobs

      Just keep Americans heads diverted just driving over the bloody and criminal bump in the road that are the carcasses of dead Iraqi people and american soldiers as they head to the malls with their pedals to the metal Scary times.

      While the very same warmongers attempt to start an overt military confrontation with Iran

  4. This is what Collin Powell meant by “you break it, you own it”. While Sunnies and Shias fought each other it cannot begin to explain the statistics pointed out here. This is due to the American invasion of a country that did not represent a military threat to the United States.

    • Although I agree with the sentiment I just can’t think its ever a good thing to quote Colin Powell – hes either a first class patsy , a sniveling liar or an absolute driveling idiot – either way its telling that he was a US General. Anyone who could stand up in front of the world and present the rubbish he did should not ever have been allowed near anything pointier than a cotton bud.

  5. link to npr.org

    During Jackie Northrums report about the most recent meeting between President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. I found President Obama’s words describing how everyone should ” turn the page, begin a new chapter in the history between our countries” so dismissive and offensive, Thousands of Iraqi people are dead, injured, millions displaced all as a direct result of an invasion based on a “pack of lies” In fact those horrific results are barely ever mentioned in the MSM. This is shameful

    The dead, injured and displaced in Iraq just a bloody bump in the road for the warmongers. Sickening

    Can only imagine how those arrogant dismissive words would sting if I were an Iraqi and had lost a loved one

    • Apparently, President Obama is selective in deciding when to “turn the page” and not dwell on the past but to move forward except for whistleblowers whom his department of arbitrary law enforcement (aka Department of Justice (sic)) has pursued vindictively for embarrassing high-ranking government officials.

  6. I would like to see an article by Mr. Cole detailing how the US friendly presidents/prime ministers in Iraq and Afghanistan get “elected” supposedly in “democratic” elections. It would be interesting to expose the gaming of the democratic system by the US occupation administrations which somehow always results in the election of hand picked puppets.

    • Umwut?

      Our “hand-picked puppets” quite dramatically failed to come to to power in Iraq. Remember when Chalabi (Shiny Suits Be Upon Him) was going to roll into Baghdad like a latter-day DeGaulle?

      Remember when the US wanted to delay elections, and Sistani brought the Shiites out into the streets and forced us to hold them with the threat of a mass uprising?

      Remember Lashkar Brahimi? Remember the UN mission? Remember “brave man” Ayad Allawi?

      It takes a certain historical revisionism to look at the Bush administration’s utter failure to subdue Iraq and conclude that we’re the puppet-masters pulling the strings. They may have thought that Iraq in the 21st century was just like Central America in the 1950s, but as it turned out, not so much.

      • Remember when our “hand-picked puppet” Malaki hosted Ahmedinejad in Baghdad, and embraced and kissed him in front of the cameras, after throngs turned out to throw flowers at his motorcade?

        • Maliki just gave the US an arms order to the magnitude of $3 billion, that’s when they have daily power outages in Baghdad. And what about Karzai’s miraculous election? How does he get “elected” in Afghanistan? You are naive to assume that there is no foreign intervention. It is done by filtering the candidates who are allowed to run so voters get to choose between two puppets who are sure to be friendly to the US and acquiesce with Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. That’s how the empire operates. They would never allow someone who is not friendly to the US to get elected, otherwise, what was that huge waste of lives and money for?

        • So your argument is that the Iraqi government would never buy military equipment instead of spending the money on helping the populace, unless the United States is secretly controlling them?

          This seems like a bit of a stretch. Middle Eastern governments – hell, all governments – have been putting guns ahead of butter for a lot longer than the American involvement in Iraq. That’s not terribly strong evidence for you claim.

          And what about Karzai’s miraculous election?

          Karzai is a much better better example than Iraq. Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t the same country, you know, and different things can happen in different places.

          They would never allow someone who is not friendly to the US to get elected, otherwise, what was that huge waste of lives and money for?

          As all of the examples I listed demonstrate, the Bush administration did indeed try quite hard to get its puppets into power. They also tried quite hard to establish a permanent American military presence in Iraq, but that didn’t work, either. I agree wholeheartedly that the Bush administration had an imperialist policy towards Iraq…but they failed. They didn’t get what they wanted.

  7. ¿may i restate the obvious?- the nation of USA did not wage war on Iraq- the corporation of USA did- you all know the joke

    ¿why did USA cross the road?- to shoot the Iraqi kids parents and take all his oil

    the war had nothing whatsoever to do with Hussein- just as the children of the folk who orchestrated the war had nothing to do with the fighting

  8. Any statistics on the effects of the cluster bombs and the depleted uranium that litter Iraq? How about the aftermath of Fallujah?

  9. It may be useful to multiply the statistics by 10 to equal an equivalent impact on the United States.

    Using iraqbodycount.org’s lowest number of deaths due to military intervention, over one million American deaths would be attributable to the actions of a invading foreign power.

    Unlike the tragedy of a single death, a million deaths is merely a statistic. Good that we have evolved to Joseph Stalin’s level of humanity.

  10. Responding to: joe from Lowell 12/14/2011 at 6:12 pm

    The fact that you make an assertion does not mean that that assertion is true and in this case your assertion is demonstrably false. She condemned herself out of her own mouth furthermore her actions as Secretary of State both before and after that interview prove that she supported the policies leading to those childrens’ deaths and that she did indeed consider their deaths worth it.

    As to this:

    Of course, you know this. You’re just deliberately trying to hide that fact.

    Unlike Albright and her defenders I don’t have to resort either to deliberate falsehoods or to trying to conceal things. Both in word and deed she repeatedly showed she did consider that killing all those children was “worth it” and no amount of ex post facto weasel wording from either her or you will alter that fact.

    • The fact that you make an assertion does not mean that that assertion is true and in this case your assertion is demonstrably false. She condemned herself out of her own mouth

      And then clarified out of her own mouth, yet you decide to completely ignore that. You won’t even acknowledge the retraction she made in here book, you’re so honest.

      furthermore her actions as Secretary of State both before and after that interview prove that she supported the policies leading to those childrens’ deaths and that she did indeed consider their deaths worth it.,/i>

      Her policies demonstrate that she supported the policies towards Iraq, yes, but that’s not the matter that’s under dispute. The point of disagreement was whether she agreed that the “cost” was as high as half a million deaths. She plainly did not.

      Unlike Albright and her defenders… I’m actually not terribly fond of Albright. Too hawkish for me. I just have this, apparently unusual, habit of sticking to the facts, instead of believing and ignoring things based on how convenient they are for me.

      I don’t have to resort either to deliberate falsehoods or to trying to conceal things

      Clearly, you do, since you won’t even acknowledge the existence of those statements she’s made renouncing her misstatement.

      No matter how passionately you insult me, one of us is willing to acknowledge the facts, and one of us is not.

    • Both in word and deed she repeatedly showed she did consider that killing all those children was “worth it”

      This is called “defining your conclusion” or “begging the question,” and it’s a logical fallacy.

      You are taking the statement that is being questioned – that Albright believed that half a million children died from the sanctions – and assuming it to be true, in order to prove itself.

      If Albright did not, as she has made clear she did not, believe that the “cost” of the policy was as high as Stahl claimed, then her support for the policy does not in any way demonstrate that she thought the policy was worth the cost.

      • “If Albright did not, as she has made clear she did not, believe that the “cost” of the policy was as high as Stahl claimed, then her support for the policy does not in any way demonstrate that she thought the policy was worth the cost.,”

        As I explained above in more polite terms, this is fatuous. I don’t believe the 500,000 figure myself–from what I’ve read it’s probably in the low hundreds of thousands. But there is no doubt that the sanctions caused immense economic damage to Iraq, prevented repairs to the water and sewage systems and even without any statistics one could trust, obviously this would cause innocent deaths.

        Albright thought it was okay to inflict harm on Iraqi civilians and she had to know the harm was on a large scale, without necessarily knowing how large.
        And of course the US disclaimed all responsibility most of the time. That’s what made Albright’s statement so striking and it’s why she walked it back.

        Imagine how the US would react if somehow a hypothetical Arab superpower could impose similar sanctions on Israel, after a bombing campaign that had damaged civilian infrastructure. If an Arab Albright said that the Israeli suffering was “worth it”, I doubt anyone would bother to deny that this person had said something brutal and callous.

  11. In reading comments like these I get the impression that they feeling is widespread in the Middle East and outside of it that all the problems in the region are “somebody else’s fault”. It starts with the British and French who divided up the Ottoman Empire (and created all these countries), then we go to the Americans and Israelis and the international banking system and oil. It seems that among many people the belief is that were it not for these various nefarious forces, the Middle East would have “naturally” evolved in to some modified form of a secular Swedish-style social democracy. Isn’t it possible though, that there are various problems in the internal social structure and civil society inherent in these countries that ultimately cause the problems? For instance, the continuing strong influence of clan identity which may override national identity? Maybe these countries should look towards internal reform more than simply blaming outsiders?

    • American ideals are (falsely) stated to be all about “freedom,” of various sorts. Ike’s comment seems to me to carry within it the unstated presumption that people living half way around the world ought to organize and manage themselves according to a neat Classical structure, like civilized nations (pretend to) have done. “Blaming” millions of people for living in, and maybe even preferring to live in, tribal and clan-based and family-linked cultures, fortuitously and unfortunately on top of “extractable resources” that New World (and now China and India) consumers demand to grab for their increasingly gluttonous lifestyles seems to me to be the most fundamental kind of cynical or unconscious hubris.

      Maybe these countries should look towards internal reform more than simply blaming outsiders?

      It’s kind of hard to engage in “internal reform,” what a wonderfully presumptuous notion, if the CIA’s paramilitaries and jackals and sales people from the MIC and neocon functionaries and all the other predators are circling, watching, stirring the pot, and shooting physical and fiscal and doctrinal Hellfires into the mess that yes, they and their predecessors set the structure for.

      Follow the money, and what do you see?

    • That’s all possibly true, but you know, when you invade a country, and occupy it with your military, sometimes people blame you for what happens. Life’s funny that way.

    • Here is your project for the evening:

      1) Go to link to riverbendblog.blogspot.com and start from the beginning.

      2) Notice that the frequency of posts starts to drop off.

      3) Notice that problems with electricity and water, almost nonexistent prior to the invasion, come to rule everyday life even for wealthier families like hers.

      4) Notice that the author, a female Baghdad resident of a mixed Sunni-Shiite family, went from being able to take the bus safely to her job as a computer programmer, while wearing jeans and listening to her Walkman, to losing her job, her ability to wear jeans, even her ability to go outside without heavy covering or an escort of male family members.

      4) Notice that they tried to leave once, had to come back, then left yet again for Syria.

      5) Notice that the last blog entry is October 22, 2007.

      I strongly suspect Riverbend is no longer alive — or is living a life so hellish she either cannot document it or would not want to document it.

      Now what was that you were saying about blaming the US for Iraq’s troubles?

  12. Bottom Line: The initiation of this war and its subsequent atrocities were in violation of the Geneva Conventions on War and Torture and international law. Anglo-American “shock and awe” on Iraq in 2003 was a modern version of the blitzkrieg on Poland in 1939.

Comments are closed.