The Heartbreaking Irony of the Charade in Iraq

So now the exodus begins. The crusaders who supposedly brought freedom and democracy to Iraq are coming home, “mission accomplished” at last. After nearly seven years of bombs and bullets, blood and tears, the doughboys or dogfaces or leathernecks, or whatever they call them these days, can come marching home again – the first wave of them, anyway. Trumpets will sound triumphantly and drums will beat a welcome. The streets will be lined with cheering crowds and patriotic bunting will flutter from utility poles.

troopsAnd while that might make your spine tingle, it makes my stomach sick. For one thing, more than 4,300 of America’s brave fighters won’t be marching anywhere ever again. Flag draped coffins bear testimony to that.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq were built on lies and sustained by ignorance. Those weapons of mass destruction the Bush-Cheney propaganda machine warned Americans about? Why, they turned out to be non-existent. As all the world knows by now, the Iraq invasion was sold to Americans by a lying administration. And the chimera of democracy in Iraq was founded on ignorance.

Apparently, the Bush foreign affairs “experts” didn’t realize that Iraqi society is divided by voting blocs based on religious affiliation. They obviously didn’t know that the election of a Shia government was never in doubt because the vast majority of Iraq’s voters are Shia.

The hundreds of thousands of slaughtered Iraqis, the murdered and mutilated children, the thousands of soldiers and insurgents died in vain – all of them.  Before the invasion, Iraq was ruled by a despicable dictator, but there was order. An ancient culture survived, and thousands of years of history were documented in museums… museums that were bombed and looted in the invasion.

After the occupation, what is left? Apparently, another dictator. Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Nation by Robert Dreyfuss:

malikiAs we pull back, we’re leaving Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (photo at right) in charge. Increasingly, Maliki is taking on the trappings of a dictator. He’s established a network of security agencies that report directly to him. He’s built a countrywide patronage system to bribe and pay off tribal allies, in anticipation of 2010 elections. He’s shown no compunction against using the army, the police and the secret agencies he controls to eliminate rivals. He’s used divide-and-conquer tactics to outflank the Sunni-led sahwa movement, known as the Awakening or the Sons of Iraq, driving some of them back into armed resistance and others into sullen resentment or fear for their lives.

And Maliki, despite his protestations that he is a born-again “nationalist,” has close ties to Iran. With Iran now revealed as a fundamentalist-run, naked military dictatorship, I expect Iran to act ruthlessly vis-a-vis Iraq, and if he wants to stay in power Maliki will pretty much have to go along.

And the same ancient culture survives, but without many of the priceless relics from thousands of years of history… The traditions that subjugate women persist. The order is gone – there is violence in the streets – utilities are disrupted and the infrastructure is destroyed. The economy is in disarray. The society is in conflict.

And the power structure has changed. Before, it was the Sunnis that ruled. Now it’s the Shia.  I suppose you could argue that because the majority of Iraqis are Shia, it’s a democratic government. But I am sure the Sunnis don’t see it that way. And the Sunnis have been America’s traditional allies. It was America that provided Saddam Hussein with doomsday weapons to kill Iranians and oppress the Shia and the Kurds. The dominant Muslim faction in Saudi Arabia and other “friendly” Mideast states is the Sunni. The Shia faction has close ties to Iran, and by handing over Iraq to the Shia, America, in effect, handed it over to the Iranian ayatollahs and that unspeakable Ahmadinejad creature.

According to the Dreyfuss article:

Maliki sits atop a conspiratorial little party called Al Dawa, a fundamentalist Islamist grouping, and he is reliant on a small, secretive clique that surrounds him. During the February election, in order to appeal to Iraqi voters, Maliki posed as a nationalist of sorts, but in fact he is dependent on two outside powers. First, he’s dependent on the United States, for despite his bravado about the US withdrawal from Iraq’s cities, Maliki desperately needs American backing to remain in power, to build up his armed forces. And second, Maliki is dependent on the good will of Iran, which could topple him instantly if he crossed Tehran.

But, as usual, Big Business is making out like bandits – and not only through the repugnant war profiteering you must have heard about. Here’s more from the Dreyfuss piece:

While Iraq’s Shia population celebrated in the streets and Iraq’s Sunni population crouched in fear, another group got right to business. “The long-awaited auction of licenses to develop Iraq’s huge oil reserves began Tuesday amid unusual contentiousness,” reported The New York Times on Tuesday, “as multinationals demanded far more revenue from every barrel of increased production than the authorities were willing to allow. Scores of Chinese, Russian, American and British oil executives, representing eight of the world’s top 10 non-state oil companies, gathered in a hotel meeting room in the Green Zone. They listened closely on headphones to translations as bids for six oil fields and two natural gas fields were read out and then rushed into consultations.”

But, at least, Johnny is marching home again – hurrah! hurrah!