[News] Why Bush's Iraq is Worse Than Saddam's
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 22 13:48:10 EDT 2006
June 22, 2006
"Just Tell Me One Thing, Are You Glad that Saddam Hussein is Out of
Power?" And I Say, "No."
Why Bush's Iraq is Worse Than Saddam's
By WILLIAM BLUM
National Public Radio foreign correspondent Loren Jenkins, serving in
NPR's Baghdad bureau, met earlier this month with a senior Shiite
cleric, a man who was described in the NPR report as "a moderate" and
as a person trying to lead his Shiite followers into practicing peace
and reconciliation. He had been jailed by Saddam Hussein and forced
into exile. Jenkins asked him: "What would you think if you had to go
back to Saddam Hussein?" The cleric replied that he'd "rather see
Iraq under Saddam Hussein than the way it is now."
When one considers what the people of Iraq have experienced as a
result of the American bombings, invasion, regime change, and
occupation since 2003, should this attitude be surprising, even from
such an individual? I was moved to compile a list of the many kinds
of misfortune which have fallen upon the heads of the Iraqi people as
a result of the American liberation of their homeland. It's
depressing reading, and you may not want to read it all, but I think
it's important to have it summarized in one place.
Loss of a functioning educational system. A 2005 UN study revealed
that 84% of the higher education establishments have been "destroyed,
damaged and robbed".
The intellectual stock has been further depleted as many thousands of
academics and other professionals have fled abroad or have been
mysteriously kidnapped or assassinated in Iraq; hundreds of
thousands, perhaps a million, other Iraqis, most of them from the
vital, educated middle class, have left for Jordan, Syria or Egypt,
many after receiving death threats.
"Now I am isolated," said a middle-class Sunni Arab, who decided to
leave. "I have no government. I have no protection from the
government. Anyone can come to my house, take me, kill me and throw
me in the trash."
Loss of a functioning health care system. And loss of the public's
health. Deadly infections including typhoid and tuberculosis are
rampaging through the country. Iraq's network of hospitals and health
centers, once admired throughout the Middle East, has been severely
damaged by the war and looting.
The UN's World Food Program reported that 400,000 Iraqi children were
suffering from "dangerous deficiencies of protein". Deaths from
malnutrition and preventable diseases, particularly amongst children,
already a problem because of the 12 years of US-imposed sanctions,
have increased as poverty and disorder have made access to a proper
diet and medicines ever more difficult.
Thousands of Iraqis have lost an arm or a leg, frequently from
unexploded US cluster bombs, which became land mines; cluster bombs
are a class of weapons denounced by human rights groups as a cruelly
random scourge on civilians, particularly children.
Depleted uranium particles, from exploded US ordnance, float in the
Iraqi air, to be breathed into human bodies and to radiate forever,
and infect the water, the soil, the blood, the genes, producing
malformed babies. During the few weeks of war in spring 2003, A10
"tankbuster" planes, which use munitions containing depleted uranium,
fired 300,000 rounds.
And the use of napalm as well. And white phosphorous.
The American military has attacked hospitals to prevent them from
giving out casualty figures of US attacks that contradicted official
US figures, which the hospitals had been in the habit of doing.
Numerous homes have been broken into by US forces, the men taken
away, the women humiliated, the children traumatized; on many
occasions, the family has said that the American soldiers helped
themselves to some of the family's money. Iraq has had to submit to a
degrading national strip search.
Destruction and looting of the country's ancient heritage, perhaps
the world's greatest archive of the human past, left unprotected by
the US military, busy protecting oil facilities.
A nearly lawless society: Iraq's legal system, outside of the
political sphere, was once one of the most impressive and secular in
the Middle East; it is now a shambles; religious law more and more prevails.
Women's rights previously enjoyed are now in great and growing danger
under harsh Islamic law, to one extent or another in various areas.
There is today a Shiite religious ruling class in Iraq, which
tolerates physical attacks on women for showing a bare arm or for
picnicking with a male friend.
Men can be harassed for wearing shorts in public, as can children
playing outside in shorts.
Sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent previously, has become a serious issue.
Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims have lost much of the
security they had enjoyed in Saddam's secular society; many have emigrated.
A gulag of prisons run by the US and the new Iraqi government feature
a wide variety of torture and abuse -- physical, psychological,
emotional; painful, degrading, humiliating; leading to mental
breakdown, death, suicide; a human-rights disaster area.
Over 50,000 Iraqis have been imprisoned by US forces since the
invasion, but only a very tiny portion of them have been convicted of
US authorities have recruited members of Saddam Hussein's feared
security service to expand intelligence- gathering and root out the
Unemployment is estimated to be around fifty percent.
Massive layoffs of hundreds of thousands of Baathist government
workers and soldiers by the American occupation authority set the
process in motion early on. Later, many, desperate for work, took
positions tainted by a connection to the occupation, placing
themselves in grave danger of being kidnapped or murdered.
The cost of living has skyrocketed. Income levels have plummeted.
The Kurds of Northern Iraq evict Arabs from their homes. Arabs evict
Kurds in other parts of the country.
Many people were evicted from their homes because they were Baathist.
US troops took part in some of the evictions.
They have also demolished homes in fits of rage over the killing of
one of their buddies.
When US troops don't find who they're looking for, they take who's
there; wives have been held until the husband turns himself in, a
practice which Hollywood films stamped in the American mind as being
a particular evil of the Nazis; it's also collective punishment of
civilians and is forbidden under the Geneva Convention.
Continual bombing assaults on neighborhoods has left an uncountable
number of destroyed homes, workplaces, mosques, bridges, roads, and
everything else that goes into the making of modern civilized life.
Hafitha, Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi ... names that will live in infamy
for the wanton destruction, murder, and assaults upon human beings
and human rights carried out in those places by US forces.
The supply of safe drinking water, effective sewage disposal, and
reliable electricity have all generally been below pre-invasion
levels, producing constant hardship for the public, in temperatures
reaching 115 degrees. To add to the misery, people wait all day in
the heat to purchase gasoline, due in part to oil production, the
country's chief source of revenue, being less than half its previous level.
The water and sewage system and other elements of the infrastructure
had been deliberately destroyed by US bombing in the first Gulf War
of 1991. By 2003, the Iraqis had made great strides in repairing the
most essential parts of it. Then came Washington's renewed bombing.
Civil war, death squads, kidnaping, car bombs, rape, each and every
day ... Iraq has become the most dangerous place on earth. American
soldiers and private security companies regularly kill people and
leave the bodies lying in the street; US-trained Iraqi military and
police forces kill even more, as does the insurgency. An entire new
generation is growing up on violence and sectarian ethics; this will
poison the Iraqi psyche for many years to come.
US intelligence and military police officers often free dangerous
criminals in return for a promise to spy on insurgents.
Protesters of various kinds have been shot by US forces on several occasions.
At various times, the US has killed, wounded and jailed reporters
from Al Jazeera television, closed the station's office, and banned
it from certain areas because occupation officials didn't like the
news the station was reporting.
Newspapers have been closed for what they have printed.
The Pentagon has planted paid-for news articles in the Iraqi press to
serve propaganda purposes.
But freedom has indeed reigned -- for the great multinationals to
extract everything they can from Iraq's resources and labor without
the hindrance of public interest laws, environmental regulations or
worker protections. The orders of the day have been privatization,
deregulation, and laissez faire for Halliburton and other Western
corporations. Iraqi businesses have been almost entirely shut out
though they are not without abilities, as reflected in the
infrastructure rebuilding effort following the US bombing of 1991.
Yet, despite the fact that it would be difficult to name a single
area of Iraqi life which has improved as a result of the American
actions, when the subject is Iraq and the person I'm having a
discussion with has no other argument left to defend US policy there,
at least at the moment, I may be asked:
"Just tell me one thing, are you glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power?"
And I say: "No".
And the person says: "No?"
And I say: "No. Tell me, if you went into surgery to correct a knee
problem and the surgeon amputated your entire leg, what would you
think if someone then asked you: Are you glad that you no longer have
a knee problem? The people of Iraq no longer have a Saddam problem."
And many Iraqis actually supported him.
William Blum is the author of
Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II,
State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and
Dissident: a Cold War Political
He can be reached at: <mailto:BBlum6 at aol.com>BBlum6 at aol.com
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