Rene — Where Are The Iraqis in The Iraq War?

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Where Are The Iraqis in The Iraq War?
Published on Saturday, March 29, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
by Ramzy Baroud
Five years after the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, mainstream
media is once more making the topic an object of intense scrutiny. The
costs and implications of the war are endlessly covered from all
possible angles, with one notable exception ‘ the cost to the Iraqi
people themselves.
Through all the special coverage and exclusive reports, very little is
said about Iraqi casualties, who are either completely overlooked or
hastily mentioned and whose numbers can only be guesstimated. Also
conveniently ignored are the millions injured, internally and
externally displaced, the victims of rape and kidnappings who will
carry physical and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.
We find ourselves stuck in a hopeless paradigm, where it feels
necessary to empathise with the sensibilities of the aggressor so as
not to sound `unpatriotic’, while remaining blind to the untold anguish
of the victims. Some actually feel the need to go so far as to blame
the Iraqis for their own misfortune. Both Democratic presidential
candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have expressed their wish
for Iraqis to take responsibility for the situation in their country,
with the former saying, `we cannot win their civil war. There is no
military solution.’
It would have been helpful if Clinton had reached her astute conclusion
before she voted for the Senate’s 2002 resolution authorising President
Bush to attack Iraq. For the sake of argument, let’s overlook both
Clinton’s and Obama’s repeated assertions that all options, including
military ones, are on the table regarding how to `deal’ with Iran’s
alleged ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. But to go so far as
blaming the ongoing war on the Iraqis’ lack of accountability is a new
low for these `antiwar’ candidates.
Is it still a secret, five years on, that the war on Iraq was fought
for strategic reasons, to maintain a floundering superpower’s control
over much of the world’s energy supplies and to sustain the regional
supremacy of Israel, the US’s most costly ally anywhere?
Of course, there are those who prefer to imagine a world in which a
well-intentioned superpower would fight with all of its might to enable
another smaller, distant nation to enjoy the fruits of liberty,
democracy and freedom. But it is nothing short of ridiculous to pretend
that Iraqis are capable of controlling the parameters of the ranging
conflict, that a puppet government whose election and operation is
entirely under the command of the US military is capable of taking
charge and assuming responsibilities.
Equally absurd is the insinuation that the civil war in Iraq is an
exclusively Iraqi doing, and that the US military has not deliberately
planted the seeds of divisions, hoping to reinterpret its role in Iraq
from that of the occupier to that of the arbitrator, making sure the
`good’ guys prevail over the `bad’.
The idea of the US making an immediate exit from Iraq or taking full
financial and legal responsibility for the devastation and genocide ‘
yes, genocide ‘ that occurred in the last five years is simply
unthinkable from the viewpoint of the corporate US media, which still
relates to the war only in terms of American (and never Iraqi) losses.
There are very few commentators who are actually arguing that the
reasons for war were entirely self-serving, without an iota of morality
behind them. Would Bush employ the same logic he used to justify Saddam
Hussein’s execution ‘ suggesting this was warranted by the Iraqi
president’s violence against his own people ‘ when dealing with those
responsible for the deaths of over a million Iraqis as a result of this
And indeed Iraqis are dying in numbers that never subside regardless of
the media and official hype about the `surge’. Just Foreign Policy says
the number of dead Iraqis has surpassed one million, while a survey by
the British polling agency ORB estimates the number at over 1.2
million. But the plight of Iraqis hardly ends at a death count, since
those left behind endure untold suffering: soaring poverty,
unemployment rates between 40-70 per cent (governmental estimates),
total lack of security in major cities and, according to Oxfam
International, four million in need of emergency aid.
`Baghdad has become the most dangerous city in the world, largely as a
result of a US policy of pitting various Iraqi ethnic and sectarian
groups against one another. Today, Baghdad is a city of walled-off
Sunni and Shia ghettoes, divided by concrete walls erected by the US
military,’ reports Dahr Jamail, one of the few courageous voices that
honestly relayed the horrendous outcomes of the war.
Indeed, there seem to be no promising statistics coming out of Iraq.
Even under the previous regime and the debilitating sanctions imposed
by the US and the UN, Iraqis were much better off prior to the war.
Now, Iraqis are relevant only as pawns of endless US government
propaganda. From the viewpoint of Bush, McCain and Cheney, they are the
victims of Al-Qaeda, which must be fought at all costs. From the
viewpoint of Clinton and Obama, they need to fight their own wars and
take responsibility for them, as if Iraqi `irresponsibility’ is the
main problem.
In yet another `surprise visit’ to Iraq by a US official,
Vice-President Dick Cheney declared that Iraq was a `successful
endeavour’. Considering the exorbitant contracts granted to selected
corporations, the war has indeed succeeded in making a few already rich
companies and individuals a lot richer.
Meanwhile, Shlomo Brom, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University’s
Institute for National Security Studies and former head of the Israeli
army’s Strategic Planning Division, sees things from a slightly
different angle. `Any Iraq will be better than Iraq under Saddam,
because the Iraq of Saddam had the ability to threaten Israel,’ he was
quoted as saying in the Christian Science Monitor.
In considering such skewed logic, one can only hope that Cheney’s
successful experiment will end soon, and that Israel’s desire for
security is now sated. The people of Iraq cannot tolerate any more
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers
and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian
Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).