I hope that I am preaching to the choir here, but do not be misled by the rosy reports of Iraq that are coming out.
On Wednesday, the U.S. News & World Report website noted: “The news that the U.S. death toll in Iraq for July, at 73, is the lowest in eight months spurred several news organizations to present a somewhat optimistic view of the situation in Iraq. The consensus in the coverage appears to be that things are improving militarily, even as the political side of the equation remains troubling.”
Hadi Mizban / AP
(The daughter of Jalil Shaalan, a security guard at a Baghdad school, reacts after her father is gunned down by unknown shooters)
The low death toll that U.S. News & World Report cites is because of a change in US military strategy, not a change on the ground. The “new strategy” for the military is a repeat of the invasion: a return to air raids, which kill far more innocent civilians than militants.
Iraqis are still suffering the consequences of the first wave of air raids back in 2003- many have lost children, siblings or parents, and many of those who survived have lost arms or legs. Since the invasion began, over 68,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives, and that is a conservative estimate.
Air raids are not an effective tactic to expand the “green zone” in Iraq, or to win the hearts and minds of the people. They are a very effective way to turn public opinion against the US occupying force (as if that hasn’t been done already) augmenting the already large base of unemployed, angry youths ready to strike out against the occupiers. Read: we are creating terrorists, not fighting them.
However, US military lives are not lost when we bomb civilians from the air, so our President can claim we are making progress in Iraq, and we need to stay there just a little bit longer to help them stabilize their democracy and stop the civil war.
Do not believe this propaganda. We are not “winning,” the tide is not “turning,” and another year or two years or five years of US troops on the ground will not make Iraq more stable and ready for democracy.
Oxfam international just published its report on the quality of life in Iraq. The results are appalling:
Four million Iraqis can’t afford to eat enough
70 percent of Iraqis don’t have clean water supplies, a 20 percent increase since 2003.
28 percent of children are malnourished, a nine percent increase since the invasion in March 2003.
92 percent of children have learning problems that stem from the constant fear they live here in Iraq.
More than two million people are internally displaced in Iraq.
Another two million have fled, most taking refuge in Jordan and Syria, both now unwelcoming.
And rather than helping mitigate these situations, it seems that the incompetent United States government has placed weapons in the hands of the insurgents. According to the July 31, 2007 report, the military “cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 items of body armour and 115,000 helmets reported as issued to Iraqi forces.” We are busy blaming Iran for the influx of weapons to the insurgents, but they may very well be coming from our military.
To put this in perspective, we currently have 162,000 troops in Iraq, so somehow the government misplaced enough weapons to kill each one of our troops with a different weapon, and still have thousands of weapons left over.
The United States must withdraw, but not just as a mass exodus. Instead, we should follow the Iraq Study Group Report recommendations, or updated recommendations from a similar source.
Yes, conditions will likely be bad after the United States leaves, but they are already bad (the country is in the middle of a civil war), and we are only making the situation on the ground worse by staying there.