The war ended with the toppling of Saddam’s statue, the Iraqis want them out, and now the occupiers, having destroyed much of Iraq, have the arrogance to ask Iraqis to pay for the occupation and reconstruction.
The Iraq war began with lies – weapons of mass destruction, mushroom cloud, Al Qaeda, and it ended with more lies.
Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent for the Independent, wrote: “a statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down on Wednesday, in the most staged photo-opportunity since Iwo Jima.”
David Zucchino, writing in the Los Angeles Times on July 3, 2003, added: “As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel – not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images – who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking.”
The war ended on April 9, 2003. What followed is a brutal occupation fiercely resisted by Sunnis and Shias alike – as they struggle amongst themselves because of the power vacuum created by the disbanding of the Iraqi army, and the decapitation of Iraq’s government by elimination of its Baath party members.
And Iraqis want the U.S. out of Iraq. Ibrahim Khalil, who took part in the toppling of Saddam’s statue five years ago, told reporters this Wednesday: “If history can take me back, I will kiss the statue of Saddam Hussein which I helped pull down.” Polls by the State Department and independent researchers show that Iraqis favor an immediate U.S. pullout.
ABC News reported on September 27, 2006 that according to a poll released by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, “Six in 10 Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, . . . Nearly eight in 10 say the U.S. presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it’s preventing”.
Karen DeYoung, writing for the Washington Post on December 19, 2007, stated: “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of “occupying forces” as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.”
But the U.S. refuses to leave or even provide a timeline for leaving, and it keeps changing the goal posts.
Following testimony by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, the Bush administration is convinced that “actions by Iran, and not al-Qaeda, are the primary threat inside Iraq” from which Iraq must be protected.
Americans are fed up with this war that has cost the lives of 4000 plus U.S. military men and women, maimed and wounded many more, the final bill for which is estimated to be over $3 trillion (that’s about $10,000 for each U.S. citizen), but the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Senator John McCain, says the U.S. could be in Iraq for a 100 years.
Now after the illegal U.S. invasion – the “supreme international crime,” Senator Carl Levin, during the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on the Situation in Iraq with Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus, said Iraqis should pay for the U.S. occupation and reconstruction.
Anne Penketh, diplomatic editor for the Independent, wrote on October 27, 2006, that the Kuwaitis were still getting payouts for the deaths and destruction caused by the 1990 Iraqi invasion.
“The latest payments, totalling $417.8m (£220m), were made yesterday to governments and oil companies for losses and damages stemming from the Kuwaiti occupation, bringing the total paid out to more than $21bn (£11bn). The total claims that have been approved run to $52bn (£27.5bn) and will take many more years to complete.”
Aren’t Iraqis, like the Kuwaitis, owed reparations by the aggressor?
The U.S. should be paying compensation for the 1.2 million Iraqis killed, countless others wounded and maimed, for the 1.6 million who have fled or been made refugees within their own country, and for the destruction it has caused.
And these numbers do not include the “500,000 children and old people killed by the US-UN anti-civilian sanctions in the 10 previous years.”
Nor does it include the Iraqis killed during the first Gulf War in which the U.S. enticed Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, and lied to the American public and the UN to sanction the war.
John R. MacArthur, then publisher of Harper’s magazine, describes the role played in the deception by Representatives Tom Lantos and John Edward Porter.
Retired General William E. Odom, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 2, 2008, said: “The surge is prolonging instability, . . . nay sayers insist that our withdrawal will create regional instability. This confuses cause with effect. Our forces in Iraq and our threat to change Iran’s regime are making the region unstable. Those who link instability with a US withdrawal have it exactly backwards.”
Iraqis are owed reparations by the U.S. It is the height of arrogance to ask them to pay for the continuing U.S. occupation which most Iraqi’s understand is for the purpose of controlling their energy resources, and forestalling a move from dollars to Euros for oil payments.
The U.S. should just get out.[Enver Masud is the founder of The Wisdom Fund — www.twf.org]