A Tragedy of Many Parts

The US Occupation of Iraq – Act III in a Tragedy of Many Parts
By Anthony Arnove
Dec 24, 2006, 05:33

The tragedy unleashed by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq defies description. According to the most recent findings of the Lancet medical journal, the number of “excess deaths” in Iraq since the U.S. invasion is more than 650,000. “Iraq is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world,” according to Refugee International: nearly two million Iraqis have fled the country entirely, while at least another 500,000 are internally displaced. Basic foods and necessities are beyond the reach of ordinary Iraqis because of massive inflation. “A gallon of gasoline cost as little as 4 cents in November. Now, after the International Monetary Fund pushed the Oil Ministry to cut its subsidies, the official price is about 67 cents,” the New York Times notes. “The spike has come as a shock to Iraqis, who make only about $150 a month on average-if they have jobs,” an important proviso, since unemployment is roughly 60­70 percent nationally.

October 2006 proved to be the bloodiest month of the entire occupation, with more than six thousand civilians killed in Iraq, most in Baghdad, where thousands of additional U.S. troops have been sent since August with the claim they would restore order and stability in the city, but instead only sparked more violence. United Nations special investigator Manfred Nowak notes that torture “is totally out of hand” in Iraq. “The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein.” The number of U.S soldiers dead is now more than 2,900, with more than 21,000 wounded, many severely.

The underlying trend is clear: each day the occupation continues, life gets worse for most Iraqis. Rather than stemming civil war or sectarian conflict, the occupation is spurring it. Rather than being a source of stability, the occupation is the major source of instability and chaos.

All of the reasons being offered for why the United States cannot withdraw troops from Iraq are false. The reality is, the troops are staying in Iraq for much different reasons than the ones being touted by political elites and a still subservient establishment press. They are staying to save face for a U.S. political elite that cares nothing for the lives of Iraqis or U.S. soldiers; to pursue the futile goal of turning Iraq into a reliable client state strategically located near the major energy resources and shipping routes of the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves, and Western and Central Asia; to serve as a base for the projection of U.S. military power in the region, particularly in the growing conflict between the United States and Iran; and to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power, and restrictions on civil liberties. The U.S. military did not invade and occupy Iraq to spread democracy, check the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rebuild the country, or stop civil war. In fact, the troops remain in Iraq today to deny self-determination and genuine democracy to the Iraqi people, who have made it abundantly clear, whether they are Shiite or Sunni, that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately; feel less safe as a result of the occupation; think the occupation is spurring not suppressing sectarian strife; and support armed attacks on occupying troops and Iraqi security forces, who are seen not as independent but as collaborating with the occupation.

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