I’m sharing a few items that I found worthwhile, on the occasion of the putative end of direct U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
Unfortunately, much of the American populace has long since started experiencing “Iraq fatigue,” and just wants to not be faced with even having to think about it. Nor do they want to dwell on how they were suckered into supporting this heinous, disastrous crime. So it’s unlikely to change, that the war criminals will not only continue to not be bothered, but will even be allowed to thrive. You all know what Karl Rove does, these days, right?
Corporate media has done its best to downplay, or just ignore, many of the most awful realities of the war, and they’ve gotten away with it. One of the most flagrant examples of that is the behavior of “private security contractors.”
In Iraq, Blackwater’s “protective services” consisted in large part of preemptively shooting any car that drove near its convoys. Page after page of the reports feature drivers (and occasionally boat pilots) who were fired upon simply because they drove “aggressively,” attempted to pass, or didn’t heed warnings to keep their distance. There was no routine mechanism for following up with the drivers to determine if they were injured or were actually hostile. Blackwater (and DynCorp and Triple Canopy) guards roamed Iraqi cities and highways, ignoring traffic rules and shooting at other drivers literally at will, and driving on. According to a 2007 investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [pdf], between 2005 and 2007 Blackwater operatives fired on Iraqis at least 195 times, or an average of 1.4 times per week. That included an infamous Baghdad firefight at Nisour Square that killed 17 civilians.
This item indicates that about 10,000 contractor personnel will remain in Iraq. I’ve seen estimates of up to about 15,000, in other sources.
But when weighing those possible benefits against the costs of the Iraq intervention, there is simply no conceivable calculus by which Operation Iraqi Freedom can be judged to have been a successful or worthwhile policy. The war was intended to show the extent of America’s power. It succeeded only in showing its limits.
For some reason, even a lot of items from generally non-conservative sources, marking the end of the war, have been noting the number of Iraqis killed as something like “at least 100,000.” Maybe they don’t want to argue. I, like many, consider that number to be lowballed, probably by half a million at least. Here is a good discussion.
This is about apparent disagreements between U.S. and Iraqi leadership, regarding “the way forward.” It is very much worth reading.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat carried an article on December 15 about the behind the scenes conflicts between US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. My guess is that a Maliki staffer leaked these conflicts. The piece was translated by the USG Open Source Center and I’m using their rendering when quoting in English below.