Iraq is broken
hard to believe that supposedly intelligent people like Senators Joseph Biden
(DE), Hillary Clinton (NY) and John Kerry (MA) call for “staying the course” in
Iraq and acting responsibly by sending more U.S. troops with more fire
power over there. Don’t they understand that American soldiers break, not fix?
The more U.S. soldiers in Iraq, the more damage they will do and the more
enemies they will make. To limit damage, to act morally and responsibly, remove
the cause of violence and chaos in Iraq: the U.S. military presence.
the early 1950s, U.S.
Presidents have used troops and the CIA to break other countries, not fix them.
In 1953, the CIA shattered Iran’s integrity by overthrowing the elected
Mossadegh government. Twenty-six years later, Iranians overthrew the U.S.-backed
Shah. In 1979, Iranians showed the depth of their rage by also seizing scores of
officials as hostages. The Ayatollah’s regime labeled the United States “The
Great Satan” – for screwing their country.
1954, the CIA smashed
by overthrowing a democratically elected government and replacing it with a
military gang that killed and looted for forty years. Embraced by the Pentagon,
these gangsters in uniform slaughtered as many as 100,000 Guatemalans (mostly
indigenous peasants) and stole their land. The country has not yet recovered.
September 11, 1973, Richard Nixon helped rupture Chile by “destabilizing” its
elected government. For seventeen subsequent years, Washington supported a
bloody military dictatorship led by General August Pinochet, a specialist in
assassinating, disappearing and torturing his opponents at home and abroad. In
1991, the civilian government’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission
listed Pinochet’s crimes: 3,197 people assassinated or disappeared, tens of
thousands tortured, hundreds of thousands forced into exile.
March 2003, George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to break Iraq. The U.S.
arsenal destroyed the electricity and water supply, damaged sewage treatment and
other vital sanitary facilities and pulverized bridges, other public places and
thousands of homes. On May 1, 2003, dressed in a jump suit, Bush landed on the
USS Abraham Lincoln and announced: “Mission Accomplished.”
critics, myself included, laughed at such braggadocio. We misunderstood him. He
had accomplished the standard post-WWII US military mission: He broke another
U.S.-led Coalition has not restored what it demolished in Iraq, nor
reestablished services to the level of Saddam Hussein’s regime. They imprisoned
tens of thousands of Iraqis, subjecting many of those to systematic torture.
prisoner Ali Abbas told journalist Dahr Jamail that to break the will of Iraqi
guards at Abu Ghraib “used electricity on us” while millions of homes lacked
electricity for hours each day. “They also shit on us, used dogs against us…and
starved us.” As Abbas told Jamail, “the Americans delivered electricity to my
ass before they brought it to my house” (Jamail testimony at the
World Tribunal on Iraq, June 25, 2005, Istanbul). Estimates of Iraqis in prison
range as high as eighty thousand, most of whom have not been charged.
1991, during the first Gulf War, the breaking began. U.S. planes and artillery
delivered more than 300 tons of uranium tipped bombs and shells to targets in
southern Iraq alone. Residue from these weapons turned into particles that
people – including U.S. troops – inhaled. In 2003, more U.S. toxic material
rained down on the Iraqi environment.
September 2002, I saw dying kids in the Baghdad Children’s Hospital. Iraqi
doctors had already surmised that only the presence of depleted uranium could
have caused such a profound spike in the cancer rates among children.
June 2005, Dr. Thomas Fasy of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine concluded that
data from Iraqi hospitals indicated that depleted uranium’s effect had shown up
dramatically in a more than 400% rise in children’s cancer in just over a decade.
Uranium ions bond with DNA and this, he said, has also caused a notable leap in
children’s leukemia rates along with sharply elevated incidences of congenital
birth defects. The United States literally released cancer-causing material into
Iraqi air, soil and water.
toxic metal had performed the coup de grace to the Iraqi health system, already
devastated by US bombing and embargo, Fasy said. The cost of such breakage:
human life (World Tribunal on Iraq, June 26, 2005).
November 2004, U.S.
soldiers carried out punitive action in Falluja, a city of some 300,000
residents, an operation that surpassed the 1936 Nazi bombing of Guernica in
Spain. Falluja was reduced to rubble. Thousands died.
Iraq as well – of its socialist habit. U.S. colonial administrator J. Paul
Bremer forced a constitution down Iraqi throats – to break their statist
economic system. He planned to privatize some 200 state-owned enterprises.
Management of port facilities at Umm Qasr went to Stevedoring Services of
America, a U.S. company. “Bremer studiously ignored the rapidly rising
unemployment and social disorder that arose from the destruction of a social
order.” “If privatization isn’t halted,” wrote Naomi Klein, ‘free
will be the most sold country on earth” (The Nation, April 28, 2003).
Iraqis resist. They continually sabotage the oil pipeline. Indeed, such tactics
have caused major oil companies to lose enthusiasm for owning Iraqi oil. Besides,
they do well under the current OPEC arrangement – $60 a barrel – and have no
wish to change it.
workers also have not welcomed the selling of state-owned factories to
foreigners. Some work forces have even threatened to assassinate prospective
buyers. This does not make investors feel as if modern Iraq provides a welcome
climate (Naomi Klein, speech at Cal Poly Pomona, November 2004).
chaos that engulfs
Iraq does not
improve from the presence of
troops. Iraqis who testified in the Istanbul World Tribunal on Iraq told about
intense hatred of their people for the occupiers. The Iraqis feel abused by far
more than the publicized incidents at Abu Ghraib. On routine U.S. patrols and
raids, trigger-happy young soldiers gun down innocent Iraqis. Pilots drop bombs
on coordinates where people live. The 2004 documentary
resembles scenes from the TV show Cops. GIs bash down doors, charge into
homes with fingers on rifle triggers shouting “on the floor motherfucker,” while
women scream and children cry. The humiliated and handcuffed men go to prison.
The soldiers then return to their posh living quarters and count the days
remaining before they can go home. Like the GIs in
Vietnam three plus decades
ago, those in Iraq sacrifice lives, limbs and psyches. But as the film makes
clear, most don’t know the purpose of their military mission.
Iraqis recall well how U.S. troops watched passively while massive looting took
place of their national, historic treasure [How does one fix a broken
A crime wave swept the country and Armed Americans shrugged. Women can no longer
walk the streets in safety as they once did.
occupations have also pitted Sunnis against Shiites, Kurds against Turkmen.
Some Iraqi Christians have fled in fear to Syria. Bush omitted these facts
and ignored the violence and chaos that define daily life. US personnel avidly
train young Iraqis into constabulary form – those that survive the regular
suicide bombings and other attacks aimed at the police.
scenario – reality – does not penetrate the heads of key Democrats who continue
to talk about “our obligation” to fix Iraq. Words don’t fix broken lives or
property. Commitment to democracy calls for more than the United States
appointing an Iraqi government and calling it democratic or forcing an Iraqi
election in which millions bravely voted, but for what never got reported. The
media and the White House ignored the startling fact that the majority of Iraqis
voted against the U.S.-chosen Iyad Allawi and for the United Iraqi Alliance,
which demanded “a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from
Iraq” (The Nation, February 11, 2005).
Instead of picking up on the withdrawal demand, before more breakage occurs,
foolish Democratic Senators demand that Bush send in more troops. Bush
ironically appears as more moderate as he appeals for patriotic unity in the
form of flying the flag on July 4.
must Iraqis feel at the sight of that flag on July 4? In its name, the U.S.
military has destroyed their cities, tortured their people, shot many of them
for no reason at checkpoints or wherever the troops happened to be patrolling.
Iraqis have scarce electricity, food and water and no secure jobs. Yet, Bush
keeps repeating that he “liberated
June 28, addressing the Special Forces at Fort Bragg, Bush asked implying that
“our” people had given up a lot to wage his war : “Is the sacrifice worth
it?” He quickly answered his own question. “It is worth it…”
Iraq war has cost him nothing – perhaps a few hours of missed video golf. “We
have more work to do,” he stated. Yes, Bush stands as a national model of
sacrifice and hard work! And Iraqis must think that those Democrats who ask for
more troops are either crazy or stark opportunists. It will take them that much
longer to restore some integrity to their broken society.
Landau testified before the World Tribunal on Iraq June 24-27,