The Destruction of Iraq
Destructive events over the last decades, carelessly supported in the past and knowingly reinforced in the present, threaten Iraq's future as a viable nation. Why are U.S. policies permitting this to happen? The two most prominent reasons:
(1) To maintain impotent the Middle East's most potential Arab power, and
(2) To secure international oil for political bargaining with the growing China.
The destruction started with Saddam Hussein's careless ambitions, that engaged Iraq in two major wars. Massive bombings of Iraq's infrastructure during the Gulf War intensified the catastrophe. United Nations sanctions during the 1990s impoverished the Iraqi people and devastated basic services. The world community faces a challenge: To assist in establishing a legitimate Iraq government that can reverse the trend in which tyrannical forces, effects of previous sanctions, deliberate actions, and internal conflicts are leading to the destruction of the historical "cradle of civilization."As Iraq recovered and entered a path to stability and progress, the combined U.S. and British invasion destroyed additonal physical plant and knowingly interrupted Iraq's return to normalcy. Post-war Iraq continues the destruction with losses of basic services, widespread looting and crime. Inept reconstruction efforts to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the nations leading the efforts - the "we had to destroy them in order to save them policy" - have brought internal conflicts, sabotage, and aggressive reactions.
The American occupation is repeating tyrannical actions (though not at the same level) of Saddam Hussein's regime. Although the U.S. might feel its actions are proper and necessary, actions it rightly deemed tyrannical are still tyrannical if performed by itself. Hussein's home-grown tyranny has been replaced by American imported tyranny.
- Hussein allowed only supporters of his policies into government positions and the bureaucracy. The U.S. military occupation is allowing only a government of individuals who support U.S. policies. Washington Post, August 27, 2002:
Though having Iraqis choose their own cabinet is intended to signal the first blossom of their independence, key decisions would still be in the hands of the U.S.-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority.
- Hussein imprisoned opponents to his regime. In only a few months the Iraqi jails contain thousands of Iraqis who oppose the U.S. occupation. (President Bush, in a recent speech, mentioned 1100 detainees.) Gordon Thomas, American Free Press, August 20th, 2003:
..some of (the prison) staff have broken ranks?to tell Amnesty International (AI), the London-based human rights watchdog, of the shocking conditions the 3,000 Iraqi prisoners are held under. None had been charged with any offense. They are listed as suspected "looters" and "rioters." Or listed as "loyal to Saddam Hussein.
- Hussein used feared intelligence agencies: Anthony Shadid and Daniel Williams, Washington Post, Aug. 24, 2003:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Authorities with the U.S.-led occupation have begun a covert campaign to recruit and train agents with the once-dreaded Iraqi intelligence service to help identify resistance to American forces here? according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
- Hussein killed opponents. The killings of militants opposing U.S. occupation, without internment and trial, and which includes many innocent civilians, are reported daily in the press. The killings during the war should be included in the totals. The Guardian, Jamie Wilson in Baghdad, Tuesday August 19, 2003:
Nobody knows exactly how many Iraqis died in the war, but an Anglo-American research group, the Iraq Body Count, has estimated the number of civilian fatalities at between 6,000 and 7,800. The number of military casualties is between 10,000 and 45,000.
- The Baathists were corrupt. An Iraqi exposes the corruption in the efforts to re-construct Iraq.
Baghdad Burning, August 18, 2003, (http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/)
Note: This an opinion of one Iraqi, but does suggest that costs have been inflated.
One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we?ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq.
...his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn?t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.
A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!
Effects of Sanctions
The UN conceived sanctions as a method to force Saddam Hussein from power or make him obey UN edicts to reveal Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Since Hussein maintained power, and since the U.S. claimed the edicts had not been fulfilled, why did the U.S. persist with a policy that only harmed the Iraqi people? In the "food for oil" program, 30% of Iraq's oil revenue went to a UN Compensation Commission. The Kurds, who are 13 percent of the Iraqi population, received 20 percent of the oil revenues. Some statistics from a UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, March 1999:
- Maternal mortality rate increased from 50/100,000 live births in 1989 to 117/100,000 in 1997. Low birth weight babies (less than 2.5 kg) rose from 4% in 1990 to about 25% of registered births in 1997, due mainly to maternal malnutrition.
- Calorie intake fell from 3,120 to 1,093 calories per capita/per day by 1994-95. Malnutrition in Iraqi children under five increased from 12% to 23% from 1991-96.
- The World Food Program estimated that access to potable water in 1948 was 50% of the 1990 level in urban areas and only 33% in rural areas.
Iraq's present economic and social problems are a direct result of the sanctions and the periodic bombings of its territory before the invasion. What was the point of creating havoc for a people and later spend money, time and energy to repair the havoc?
Despite the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, his government has not been shown to have been a threat to the United States. Iraq featured elements the U.S. could have used to advantage in its War on Terrorism and in its proposals for improving the Arab world:
- Women had more rights in Iraq than most anywhere else in the Arab world.
- Iraq restrained Radical Islam. .
- Iraq had a secular government.
- Iraq was not partial to Al-Queda and vice-versa.
- In 2003, Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction and was not a military threat to any country.
After Iraq achieved stability, accommodated its rival factions and started an economic recovery (Gross Domestic Product per capita, which was almost $4,000 in 1989, fell to poverty levels during the 1990's, and later rose to $2,500, double that of Egypt.), the U.S. attacked Iraq.
Considering the many ethnic groups in Iraq and the factions that exist within each of them, conflicts between ethnic groups and among factions will soon arise. Replacements of Sunni officials by Shi'ite officials are sure to provoke Sunni peoples. Ethnic tensions have surfaced between Kurds, Turkemen and Arabs in the Northern Iraq provinces. After a bombing killed bodyguards and wounded their cleric, thousands of angry Shi'ites gathered in the streets of the Najaf. A Reuters report by Michael Gregory, August 24, 2003:
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Thousands of angry Shi'ite Muslims, many vowing revenge, thronged the streets of the Iraqi holy city of Najaf on Monday for the funerals. Ayatollah Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, who was slightly injured in Sunday's bombing, is the uncle of the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), criticized by some Shi'ites for cooperating with the U.S.-led occupation. SCIRI said its movement was the target of Sunday's attack, which blew a hole in the side of Hakim's office and killed three bodyguards. Some supporters blamed a rival cleric who has condemned the presence of foreign troops in strong terms.
The U.S. faces a dilemma. It cannot ameliorate the ethnic quarrels without interfering in the quarrels. If the U.S. intervenes, its forces will be subjected to a backlash from offended parties. Iraq is moving to civil strife and possible Civil War.
Past U.S. policies towards Iraq and recent U.S. military actions against Iraq have a common and needless thread: destroying the life of Iraq. Occupation is not changing the process. Regardless of the number of years or generations of U.S. occupation, after the occupiers leave, Iraq might revert to its pre-occupation status. Africa provides an example: Almost all of Africa remains in turmoil decades after the end of their colonization.
American authorities cite Post WWII Germany and Japan as models of successful occupation and reconstruction and predict the same result for a future Iraq. Major differences:
- Germany and Japan have strong and unified national identities. Iraq is ethnically diverse.
- Germany and Japan had previous industrial bases. Iraq is only an oil exporter.
- Germany and Japan received their needs and wants: entrances to world markets, ability to acquire resources and protection against antagonists. Iraq cannot easily receive its needs and wants; one of which is to have an effective military force to counter its principal antagonist--Israel, which is a U.S. ally.
The violence confronting American authority in Iraq is being countered by a brutality that generates more violence and increased brutality. Can a Western country impose its institutions on people who have an ancient history that has shaped them with a different perspective and social fabric than westerners? If the U.S. persists with occupation, Iraq is doomed to violence and a brutality that counters the violence. If the U.S. leaves Iraq without providing for an independent international administration, it will leave a political vacuum, and Iraq will be doomed to civil strife. While attempting to establish a regime in Iraq that is partial to American interests, the U.S. policies threaten the economic, cultural and social identity of a defenseless Iraq. This miscalculation may generate adverse reactions throughout the Middle East, provoke other Mid-East conflagrations, and eventually backfire on America; by creating economic and social hardships in the United States.
Although the plan for nullifying the destructive trend in Iraq is not readily apparent, the direction to that plan has a pre-requisite - the American electorate recognizing the emergency and replacing the present administration with one capable of responding to dangerous policies. Only a new administration can admit the foreign policy errors, provide fresh thoughts and receive the confidence that redirects Iraq and America to peaceful and prosperous futures.
david c. laine
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