Iraq: The US-led Coalition’s so-called extraordinary achievement an all-round catastrophe .... Print E-mail

far too seldom mentioned in mainstream analysis, but particularly for the country’s women and children, as per this selection of numerous documentations:

 Wednesday December 21 2011

Lamentable legacy

“The duplicity continued through the occupation.”

The United States’ nine-year-long occupation of Iraq has officially ended with the exit of the last troops from the country. The war and the occupation that followed cost the US over a trillion dollars and around 4,500 lives, mainly soldiers. It cost Iraq much more. Between 150,000 and 400,000 Iraqis were killed, 600,000 were orphaned and 1.3 million internally displaced.

After all, elections alone do not make a democracy. US President Barack Obama said that the objective of the war in Iraq was to make that country ‘sovereign, stable and self-reliant.’ But the Iraq his troops have left behind is far weaker, less secure, and infinitely far more unstable than when they invaded it. The war unleashed and empowered the forces of religious fundamentalism in Iraq. Washington is patting itself on its back for leaving behind a democratic Iraq. But whether Iraq today is any more democratic than under Saddam Hussein is questionable.

The US-led invasion of Iraq was shrouded in lies. Leaders in the US and Britain claimed they had irrefutable evidence that it possessed weapons of mass destruction. This duplicity continued right through the occupation. And now at the war’s end, Washington claims the war is a success, resulting in ‘an extraordinary achievement’ that Americans can look on ‘with their heads held high’. Can the US look the Iraqi people in the eye while telling them what exactly it means by ‘success’?

Has Washington forgotten that as early as 2005, a former head of the US National Security Agency had declared the invasion of Iraq as ‘the greatest strategic disaster in United States history’?

Many Americans and Britons will want to forget their ignoble adventure in Iraq. They must not. All wars are wrong but their war in Iraq was particularly so. The US and its allies invaded and occupied Iraq when it posed no threat to them or any other country. Forgetting the past, glossing over blunders and refusing to learn lessons will condemn the US to repeat its mistakes.

That repetition appears to have been set in motion with American officials already issuing threats to Syria and Iran. Historians and spin masters will make every effort to twist facts and embellish the US’ Iraqi misadventure and to wipe clean its lamentable legacy in Iraq. They would do well to record the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as marking the starting point of the US’ decline as a superpower.
 London ~ Friday December 16, 2011

Leading article: A far from triumphant end to the war in Iraq

Iraq and the world are better off without Saddam. But the price paid was too high

Eight years and eight months after President George Bush launched operation "shock and awe" in the skies over Baghdad, one of America's wars at last is over. Yesterday, Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, led the ceremony in which, according to military tradition, the flag of US Forces-Iraq was formally retired. By the end of the year, the last American soldier will have left the country, meeting the target date originally set by Mr Bush in 2008, and fulfilled by his successor. Thus the curtain descends on what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in US history.

In his speech to the troops this week, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama assured them that their effort had not been in vain, that they were leaving behind an Iraq that was "sovereign, stable and self-reliant", led by a democratically elected government. A better judgement, however, was that offered by then Illinois state senator Obama in 2002, when he denounced the soon-to-begin invasion as "a dumb war, a rash war", based "not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics".

Yes, Iraq and the world are better off without Saddam Hussein. But, by any sane cost-benefit analysis, the price paid was far, far too high. That price covers not just the 4,500 US soldiers killed and the 32,000 wounded, as well as at least 100,000 Iraqis (some estimates range five times as high) who perished in the war. On this misguided enterprise, America spent a minimum of $1 trillion, borrowed money that has greatly contributed to the country's runaway deficits.

Then there are the less quantifiable costs: the vast damage to the country's global image inflicted by Abu Ghraib and the appalling behaviour of some US contractors, and the war's unintended consequence of a surge in the regional influence of Iran. Indeed, from start to finish, the US never really understood the country of which it had seized control, as it dismantled the army and other institutions that might have made the transition so much smoother.

Of course, America is not extricating itself entirely. Although Mr Obama failed to reach a deal with Nouri al-Maliki allowing some US troops to stay on to help with training and security, Baghdad will nonetheless boast the largest US embassy on the planet with a total staff of 15,000.

And, although Iraq may have faded from the headlines, between 200 and 300 of its citizens continue to die each month as a result of political violence; far fewer, it is true, than at the height of post-invasion chaos in 2006, but no advertisement for stability or self-reliance either. Nor is there any guarantee that tensions between Shias and Sunnis will not explode after the Americans have departed, once more plunging the country into sectarian strife – or that Iraq will not be thrown into new turmoil by events in neighbouring Syria and/or Iran.

But the outlook is not wholly gloomy. There is hope as well. The Americans' failure to restore Iraq's infrastructure – which was battered by a decade of sanctions before 2003, and then shattered by the war – is a major blot on their record and a reason why ordinary Iraqis will not be sorry to see them go. But Iraq's vast oil wealth means it does at least have the resources to carry out the task itself.

Politically, too, there are grounds for optimism. Iraq, like Iran, is majority Shia, but Mr Maliki has signalled that he will not be Tehran's regional stooge. The domestic security forces are also much improved. One way or another, Iraqis have their best chance of leading safe, normal lives since Saddam came to power in the 1970s. Was the war to get rid of him worth it? Absolutely not. But the dream of the neo-Conservatives who started it, of Iraq as a beacon of prosperity and modernity for the tormented Middle East, might just one day come true.