Imperial Sunset?

The war against Iraq began not in 2003 but in 1991, when the U.S. attacked the country in order to recover Kuwait and ruin Iraq. U.S. aircraft flew 110,000 sorties between January 17 and February 28 1991, averaging one aerial attack every 30 seconds, and dropped 88,500 tonnes of explosives, which is the TNT equivalent of seven and a half Hiroshimas. No accurate figures are available but many sources, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), estimated that perhaps as many as two million Iraqis died during the six years between 1990 and 1997, including more than half a million children. Under the four years of occupation from 2003 to 2007, estimates endorsed by such sources as the prestigious British scientific journal The Lancet suggest that approximately 650,000 Iraqis have died; some two million refugees have left the country; almost an equal number have become refugees within Iraq; over half of Iraq’s 4.5 million children are malnourished; and unemployment stands at over 70 per cent. These numbers should be seen in the perspective of the total population of the country, which was considerably less than 25 million at the onset of the war. We are talking of perhaps as much as half the population killed, maimed and injured, driven out of the country, driven into starvation, malnutrition, epidemic diseases, despair, and even crime.

What has the U.S. achieved? The U.S. embassy in Baghdad is the largest any country has built anywhere in the world. There is a network of military bases, some of which are as large as any in the world. Some 170,000 military personnel are in place, backed by perhaps an equal number of mercenaries and contractors who do a variety of military duties and civilian jobs. A client regime is now in place, confected by the U.S. in close cooperation with Iran, and quickly recognised by such stalwarts of global peace as the U.N. Security Council, the “international community” and so forth. All sorts of new laws have been put on the books. For all that, the writ of the occupying power and the regime of its clients does not run beyond the narrow confines of the Green Zone in a portion of Baghdad where that ruling circle has garrisoned itself. All the Shia and Sunni factions, including those serving in the client regime, agree that the U.S. troops must leave. The question is, when and under what sort of arrangement. read more

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