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Just Go: Iraqis' Views of the American Occupation of their Country [View All]

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-16-07 07:46 AM
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Just Go: Iraqis' Views of the American Occupation of their Country
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Edited on Sat Jun-16-07 08:27 AM by Time for change
Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? Well take our chances just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go. An unknown Iraqi girl, proposing a solution to the American occupation of Iraq

Can you imagine what the reaction of the American people would be to viewing an interview with the above quoted Iraqi girl on a major news network? Many millions would be rightfully shocked and enraged about our invasion and continued occupation of Iraq.

Many other millions, militarists who fancy themselves as patriots, would be enraged, not at our occupation of Iraq but at the fact that a major news network dared to air an interview with someone with such a scathingly negative opinion of the American occupation. They would accuse the news network of painting a grossly unfair picture of the American occupation (as they would accuse me for writing this). They would argue that the coverage was unbalanced because it didnt give equal time to the other side. Some would even accuse the news network of treason for making their country look bad.

My own opinion of the matter is that frequent coverage of this sort, while provoking a wide range of opinions in different directions, would soon put an end to the war, as the bulk of American opinion would so strongly oppose it that our politicians on both sides of the isle would be forced to withhold further funding and demand an end to the war.

But would frequent coverage of this sort be fair and balanced, or would it be biased, as many would claim? Lets consider a few things:

Some basic facts

An epidemiological study showed that since the 2003 invasion of Iraq there have been approximately 655,000 excess Iraqi deaths over a period of a little more than three years that is, deaths that are due to the invasion and subsequent occupation. Over 600 thousand of those deaths have been violent deaths, amounting to about 500 violent deaths per day. The death rate has been increasing over time, as the occupation has progressed.

According to the United Nations, approximately two million Iraqis have fled their country since the start of the invasion, and the number of external refugees is currently increasing by about 50 thousand per month. In addition, there have been almost two million internally displaced Iraqis since the start of the war.

Iraqs infrastructure has been devastated. For example, despite U.S. promises to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure, by October 2006 Iraqis in Baghdad were receiving an average of only 2.4 hours of electricity per day. The Iraqi healthcare system is crumbling. And according to a UN/World Bank report, water and sewage treatment has deteriorated by 50%.

Such are the results of George W. Bushs efforts to spread democracy to Iraq, advanced as a major reason for the war and the occupation after it turned out that the dire warnings of Iraqs weapons of mass destruction were a pack of lies.

Why all the collateral damage?

A recent report by a coalition of non-governmental groups called the Global Policy Forum shed a lot of light on some of the reasons for the tragedies that so many Iraqis have suffered under the U.S. occupation. The report explains that U.S. forces:

have held a large number of Iraqi citizens in 'security detention' without charge or trial, in direct violation of international law. No Iraqi is safe from arbitrary arrest and the number of prisoners has risen greatly since 2003 (when the US-led war began)

U.S. military commanders have established permissive rules of engagement, allowing troops to use deadly force against virtually any perceived threat. As a consequence, the US and its allies regularly kill Iraqi civilians at checkpoints and during military operations, on the basis of the merest suspicionabusing and torturing large numbers of Iraqi prisoners torture increasingly takes place in Iraqi prisons, apparently with US awareness and complicityIn addition to combat deaths, coalition forces have killed many Iraqi civilians.

The United States has established broad legal immunity in Iraq for its forces, for private security personnel, for foreign military and civilian contractors, and even for the oil companies doing business in Iraq

Under the control or influence of U.S. authorities, public funds in Iraq have been drained by massive corruption and stolen oil, leaving the country unable to provide basic services and incapable of rebuilding. Billion of dollars have disappeared.

Not that this report should come as a big surprise. U.S. forces have long used aerial bombing in Iraq, despite the additional civilian deaths that it entails; they use chemical weapons against civilian populations; and, they have repeatedly ferociously attacked population centers, with numerous attendant civilian casualties. One might have thought that following the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib the Bush administration might have taken steps to avoid more of the same. But instead it blamed the whole scandal on a few bad apples, failed to prosecute any high level officials, and demonstrated much more interest in justifying more torture than in preventing it.

How do most Iraqis feel about our occupation of their country?

Since Americans are told over and over and over again that a primary purpose of their countrys presence in Iraq is to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people, few Americans are aware of the overwhelming desire by most Iraqis for the U.S. occupation of their country to end. A World Opinion Poll of Iraqis taken in September of 2006 makes that quite clear:

71% of Iraqis want us to leave within a year, 20% want us to leave within two years, and only 9% want U.S. troops to be reduced as the security situation improves; only 21% feel that the U.S. military is a stabilizing force in Iraq, compared to 78% who believe that the U.S. military is provoking more conflict than it is preventing; and 61% believe that if U.S. led forces were to leave in the next six months, day to day security for ordinary Iraqis would increase, compared to only 34 % who believe that it would decrease.

But the most shocking part of the poll is that 61% of Iraqis not only disapprove of our presence in their country, but they actually approve of the violent attacks on U.S. led forces. No wonder our forces face such tremendous opposition and violence in Iraq. And let us be clear about this: These are not terrorists these are ordinary Iraqis who deeply resent the imperialistic occupation of their country by a foreign power.

U.S. imperialism

It should be clear to all Americans that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is an imperialistic occupation NOT an occupation designed to bring to the Iraqi people the benefits of democracy and freedom, as we are so often told. The fact that we occupy Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people clearly demonstrates that as that is virtually the definition of imperialism. The flurry of no-bid contracts for Bush administration cronies and the lack of effective administrative oversight of those contracts speak volumes of the Bush administrations imperialistic intentions. Our insistence on making arrangements for the distribution of oil in Iraq that will benefit American oil companies constitutes additional confirmation of those intentions. And the imperial foundations of our war against and occupation of Iraq is made all the more obvious by our construction of 14 military bases in that country.

In recent years many American commentators have claimed that U.S. imperialism is a blessing that should be openly embraced not only by the American people but by the people of those nations who are the subjects of our imperialism, since we bring to them the benefits of our freedom, democracy, civilization, economic prosperity, or Christianity. But imperialistic nations have always said that about the countries that they subjugate. Yet, as Chalmers Johnson points out in Nemesis The Last Days of the American Republic:

With rare exceptions, the countries that the various imperialisms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries exploited and colonized remain poor, disease- and crime-ridden, and at the mercy of a rigged international trading system that Anglo-American propagandists assure us is rapidly globalizing to everyones advantage. But the very same representatives of the club of rich countries who go around the world hectoring the poor to open up their markets to free trade put up roadblocks when those countries ask the rich to dismantle their own barriers to free trade

In any event, it should be obvious to anyone who is aware of what is transpiring in Iraq today that our imperialistic adventures there are providing no benefits to the Iraqi people nor were they meant to. Our politicians blabber on and whine and complain about how the Iraqis are not cooperating with what we want them to do. Well, why the hell should they? And why the hell doesnt our corporate news media ever ask that question?

Just Go

Thus, it should be obvious that the unknown Iraqi girl whom I quoted in the introduction to this post is not unrepresentative of the Iraqi people in general with respect to her intense hostility to and hatred of the American occupation of her country. Nor are her reasons difficult to understand. It would be a great service to the people of our country if our corporate news media would discuss what she and others like her have to say about George Bushs efforts to spread democracy to her country:

People are seething with anger Every newspaper you pick up in Baghdad has pictures of some American or British atrocity or another. It's like a nightmare that has come to life. Everyone knew this was happening in Abu Ghraib and other places American and British politicians have the audacity to come on television with words like, "True the people in Abu Ghraib are criminals, but" Everyone here in Iraq knows that there are thousands of innocent people detained In the New Iraq, it's "guilty until proven innocent

There was a time when people here felt sorry for the troops That time has passed We burn with shame and anger and frustration at not being able to do something. Now that the world knows that the torture has been going on since the very beginning, do people finally understand what happened in Fallujah?

And through all this, Bush gives his repulsive speeches. He makes an appearance on Arabic TV channels looking sheepish and attempting to look sincere, babbling on about how this 'incident' wasn't representative of the American people or even the army, regardless of the fact that it's been going on for so long But when the bodies were dragged through the streets of Fallujah, the American troops took it upon themselves to punish the whole city Bush Your credibility was gone the moment you stepped into Iraq and couldn't find the WMD....

So are the atrocities being committed in Abu Ghraib really not characteristic of the American army? What about the atrocities committed by Americans in Guantanamo? And Afghanistan? It seems that torture and humiliation are common techniques used in countries blessed with the American presence

We heard stories since the very beginning of the occupation about prisoners being made to sit for several hours on their knees being deprived of sleep for days at a time by being splashed with cold water or kicked or slapped about the rape, the degradations, the emotional and physical torture and there were moments when I actually wanted to believe that what we heard was exaggerated. I realize now that it was only a small fragment of the truth.

Why is no one condemning this? I don't understand the 'shock' Americans claim to feel at the lurid pictures. You've seen the troops break down doors and terrify women and children curse, scream, push, pull and throw people to the ground with a boot over their head. You've seen troops shoot civilians in cold blood. You've seen them bomb cities and towns. You've seen them burn cars and humans using tanks and helicopters. Is this latest debacle so very shocking or appalling?

The Americans and British are saying that they are 'insurgents' but people from Najaf are claiming that innocent civilians are being killed on a daily basis.

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? Well take our chances just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.

A solution offered by the Global Policy Forum

The Global Policy Forum that I referenced above ends its report with a few recommendations that our politicians would be wise to heed:

 End the coalition mandate at the earliest opportunity and plan for a stable transition in Iraq.
 Respect international law.
 Complete and speedy withdrawal of the coalition with no residual forces or bases and with no conditions.
 Speedily release all security detainees who have not been charged with a crime.
 A UN peacekeeping force clearly distinct from the coalition {should} assist with the transition by monitoring the ceasefire, strengthening local police forces and the judicial system and organizing fully-credible elections.

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