A report issued on December 21 found that two million children in Iraq, with a population roughly equal to that of Canada (or at least it was before the invasion and occupation) face some kind of threat, whether it is poor nutrition, disease or education interruption. Never mind the continual threat of being blown up, whether by the occupying colonial powers or by one of the multifarious factions in the undeclared Iraqi civil war. This is just another sign that the invasion made things worse and not better. I know, I know, what a surprise … war didn’t fix anything, and in fact made things worse. How unexpected.
Under Saddam Iraqis did not have political freedom. Living in an occupied country run Haliburton and ExxonMobile acting under the trade name of the United States of America, they have no political freedom. Under Saddam, there was the threat of being randomly grabbed off the street by the security services and being disappeared. Under the petro-kleptocracy the people face the risk of being kidnapped, tortured and/or murdered by factions in the civil war or being kidnapped, tortured and/or disappeared by the colonial forces. In other words, the bad things that Iraqis were supposedly being liberated from are still in place.
This war was never about “freeing” anyone, from anything. This was about freeing the oil under the sand of Iraq to flow through gas tanks across the world. This is epitomized in the rather grim ‘joke’ line, “how did our oil get under their sand?” This war was about controlling the second largest proven reserves of easily accessible oil in the world and about building profits for oil companies, and guess what; viewed from that perspective, it has been enormously successful. The price of oil flirted with US$100 per barrel. Oil companies are earning obscene profits by stealing Iraq’s oil and selling it to Western consumers at grossly inflated prices. And then they turn around and use the funds they gain from pillaging Iraq to stall any meaningful progress on GHG emissions that might cut into the bottom line of those same companies.
Now lets look at some of the things that have gotten worse directly because of the invasion and the complete collapse of central authority in Iraq that flowed from allowing corporate titans to run a sovereign country from a boardroom in Houston. For a first hand account of the changes I mention, I highly recommend the blog [url=riverbendblog.blogspot.com]Baghdad Burning[/url], which began in the August after the invasion. In the new “free” Iraq, women have lost their choice of whether or not to wear a headscarf. Now they must wear the headscarf, and dress “modestly” simply to avoid being killed by roving gangs sanctioned by the Iraqi government (such as it is). Under Saddam, women were as free to wear what they felt like as in a Western country. Children are no longer able to attend school for fear of being blown up along the way, or being randomly arrested as “terrorists” never to be seen by their families again. Or they risk being shot by trigger-happy Blackwater mercenaries who enjoy impunity and are above the law. Under Saddam’s government, children were able to finish school and even attend universities without fear. Under the colonial occupation, only 20% of Baghdad has access to decent sewage facilities, most residents of Baghdad get two hours of electricity per day (if they are lucky) and many still lack safe drinking water. Under Saddam’s regime, the people enjoyed full sewage services, full access to electricity (except for during the First Gulf War when the American Air Force bombed the power plants), and had safe drinking water. The colonial authorities have taken these basic elements of life away and forced millions to flee the country, mostly to Syria and Jordan. In all of these areas, the occupation made things worse.
Of course Saddam was a brutal dictator and a Bad Person, that goes without saying. But the fact remains, the people of Iraq were better off under his tyranny than they are under the colonial petro-kleptocracy. Nothing is better, and so many things are worse. It is a tragedy, and yet so many people remain fixated only on the number of occupation soldiers that have been killed. I don’t like seeing anyone killed, but frankly I care a whole hell of a lot more about innocent Iraqis who have died because of the occupation than the members of the occupation forces who are doing the killing and oppressing. The four thousand American soldiers lost can’t hold a candle to the near million Iraqis killed because of the insane greed of the oil companies, the sycophantic desire to serve of the American government, and the ability of the American mass-media to manufacture consent for the agenda of the capitalists.
I worry that every pattern that emerges so well studied from Iraq is also present in Afghanistan, where much less intensive study is done. The pattern of occupation for oil is present, in this case to secure a pipe-line route from the Caspian Sea to serve the interests of UnoCal, whose one-time employee has been installed by the Americans as the president of Afghanistan and who remains there because of the iron grip the NATO occupation, and particularly the armed forces of the USA, Canada, Britain and the Netherlands, hold the country in. There is no political freedom, and throughout the South conditions continue to deteriorate. Civilians face random death at the hands of the resistance and at the hands of the occupation forces, though they will be labelled as “suspected terrorists” after death. Or the excuse will be proffered that a person who speaks no English failed to stop when a Canadian soldier screamed at them in English to do so, and that makes them a terrorist and making their shooting death acceptable. No. I refuse to accept that. We are the terrorists. We are the one destroying these peoples’ homes and lives in the service of economic and political objectives. We meet our own definition of terrorists. I imagine that it won’t be that long before UNICEF issues a report about the situation of children in Afghanistan every bit as damning as that issued about the situation in Iraq issued on December 21. Maybe that will be the wakeup call we need to realize, it is time to bring the occupation soldiers home, and that we have to do it now! No ifs, and or buts. Soldiers out now!Explore posts in the same categories: The Middle East and Central Asia