Five years after the US invasion and occupation of Iraq,
corporate media is once more making the topic an object of intense scrutiny.
The costs and implications of the war are endlessly covered from all possible
angles, with one notable exception -- the cost to the Iraqi people themselves.
Through all the special coverage and exclusive reports, very
little is said about Iraqi casualties, who are either completely overlooked or
hastily mentioned and whose numbers can only be guesstimated. Also conveniently
ignored are the millions injured, internally and externally displaced, the
victims of rape and kidnappings who will carry physical and psychological scars
for the rest of their lives.
We find ourselves stuck in a hopeless paradigm, where it
feels necessary to empathise with the sensibilities of the aggressor so as not
to sound "unpatriotic," while remaining blind to the untold anguish
of the victims. Some actually feel the need to go so far as to blame the Iraqis
for their own misfortune. Both Democratic presidential candidates Hillary
Clinton and Barack Obama have expressed their wish for Iraqis to take
responsibility for the situation in their country, with the former saying,
"We cannot win their civil war. There is no military solution."
It would have been helpful if Clinton had reached her astute
conclusion before she voted for the Senate's 2002 resolution authorising
President Bush to attack Iraq. For the sake of argument, let's overlook both
Clinton's and Obama's repeated assertions that all options, including military
ones, are on the table regarding how to "deal" with Iran's alleged
ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. But to go so far as blaming the ongoing
war on the Iraqis' lack of accountability is a new low for these
Is it still a secret, five years on, that the war on Iraq
was fought for strategic reasons, to maintain a floundering superpower's
control over much of the world's energy supplies and to sustain the regional
supremacy of Israel, the US's most costly ally anywhere?
Of course, there are those who prefer to imagine a world in
which a well-intentioned superpower would fight with all of its might to enable
another smaller, distant nation to enjoy the fruits of liberty, democracy and
freedom. But it is nothing short of ridiculous to pretend that Iraqis are
capable of controlling the parameters of the ranging conflict, that a puppet
government whose election and operation is entirely under the command of the US
military is capable of taking charge and assuming responsibilities.
Equally absurd is the insinuation that the civil war in Iraq
is an exclusively Iraqi doing, and that the US military has not deliberately
planted the seeds of divisions, hoping to reinterpret its role in Iraq from
that of the occupier to that of the arbitrator, making sure the
"good" guys prevail over the "bad."
The idea of the US making an immediate exit from Iraq or
taking full financial and legal responsibility for the devastation and genocide
-- yes, genocide -- that occurred in the last five years is simply unthinkable
from the viewpoint of the corporate US media, which still relates to the war
only in terms of American (and never Iraqi) losses.
There are very few commentators who are actually arguing
that the reasons for war were entirely self-serving, without an iota of
morality behind them. Would Bush employ the same logic he used to justify
Saddam Hussein's execution -- suggesting this was warranted by the Iraqi
president's violence against his own people -- when dealing with those
responsible for the deaths of over a million Iraqis as a result of this war?
And indeed Iraqis are dying in numbers that never subside
regardless of the media and official hype about the "surge." Just
Foreign Policy says the number of dead Iraqis has surpassed one million, while
a survey by the British polling agency ORB estimates the number at over 1.2
million. But the plight of Iraqis hardly ends at a death count, since those
left behind endure untold suffering: soaring poverty, unemployment rates
between 40-70 per cent (governmental estimates), total lack of security in
major cities and, according to Oxfam International, four million in need of
"Baghdad has become the most dangerous city in the
world, largely as a result of a US policy of pitting various Iraqi ethnic and
sectarian groups against one another. Today, Baghdad is a city of walled-off
Sunni and Shia ghettoes, divided by concrete walls erected by the US
military," reports Dahr Jamail, one of the few courageous voices that
honestly relayed the horrendous outcomes of the war.
Indeed, there seem to be no promising statistics coming out
of Iraq. Even under the previous regime and the debilitating sanctions imposed
by the US and the UN, Iraqis were much better off prior to the war. Now, Iraqis
are relevant only as pawns of endless US government propaganda. From the
viewpoint of Bush, McCain and Cheney, they are the victims of Al-Qaeda, which
must be fought at all costs. From the viewpoint of Clinton and Obama, they need
to fight their own wars and take responsibility for them, as if Iraqi
"irresponsibility" is the main problem.
In yet another "surprise visit" to Iraq by a US
official, Vice President Dick Cheney declared that Iraq was a "successful
endeavour." Considering the exorbitant contracts granted to selected
corporations, the war has indeed succeeded in making a few already rich
companies and individuals a lot richer.
Meanwhile, Shlomo Brom, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv
University's Institute for National Security Studies and former head of the
Israeli army's Strategic Planning Division, sees things from a slightly
different angle. "Any Iraq will be better than Iraq under Saddam, because
the Iraq of Saddam had the ability to threaten Israel," he was quoted as
saying in the Christian Science Monitor.
In considering such skewed logic, one can only hope that
Cheney's successful experiment will end soon, and that Israel's desire for
security is now sated. The people of Iraq cannot tolerate any more
Baroud is a Palestinian-American author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has
been published in numerous newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People�s
Press, London). Read more about him on his website: ramzybaroud.net.