Tuesday, December 20, 2011

War Is Over? Nine Ongoing Legacies of the War in Iraq

A friend forwarded this email she received the other day.
From: Barack Obama democraticparty@democrats.org
Date: Sun, Dec 18, 2011 at 12:19 PM
Subject: Iraq
Dear P,
Early this morning, the last of our troops left Iraq.
As we honor and reflect on the sacrifices that millions of men and women made for this war, I wanted to make sure you heard the news.
Bringing this war to a responsible end was a cause that sparked many Americans to get involved in the political process for the first time. Today's outcome is a reminder that we all have a stake in our country's future, and a say in the direction we choose.
Thank you.


We have not brought the war to a "responsible end."  A responsible end might mean making a payment schedule for massive reparations to the Iraqi people.  At the least, it would mean taking responsibility for repairing some of the damage we have done.  Here's a short list of what we accomplished in Iraq.

1. Refugees:
On the one hand, the government is proudly proclaiming the end of the war. On the other, the assessment of Iraq’s internal and external security situation remains bleak. Once the troop withdrawal – scheduled for December 31 – is complete, it’s anyone’s guess how safe Iraq will be for its own people. A report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction concluded in July that “Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” and that it is “less safe… than 12 months ago.”
Since the war began in 2003, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled the country, to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey, and two million more have been internally displaced. Iraqis who worked with the U.S. government or military were among those groups targeted with harassment, violence, or murder – along with journalists, scholars, religious minorities, LGBTI people, and tens of thousands of others….

Human Rights First urges the U.S. government not to abandon the tens of thousands of vulnerable Iraqis displaced by the war, and to honor its commitments to refugee protection more broadly. Specifically, we urge the government to:
Wars do – ostensibly – have start dates and end dates. Refugee protection does not. The Iraqi refugee crisis will not be over on December 31. As President Obama affirmed in 2009 at Camp Lejeune, the United States has “a strategic interest – and a moral responsibility” – not to walk away.
Source:  http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/2011/12/09/u-s-withdraws-troops-from-iraq-but-must-not-abandon-its-refugees/

2. The Human Cost

  • Number of Iraqis who died of violence 2003-2011: 150,000 to 400,000.
  • Orphans in Iraq: 4.5 million.
  • Orphans living in the streets: 600,000.
  • Percentage of Iraqis who lived in slum conditions in 2000: 17
  • Percentage of Iraqis who live in slum conditions in 2011: 50
  • Number of the 30 million Iraqis living below the poverty line: 7 million.
Source:  http://www.juancole.com/2011/12/post-american-iraq-by-the-numbers.html
Conventional wisdom in American politics focuses only on American costs in the war in Iraq: the casualties to U.S. soldiers, the financial costs, and sometimes the strategic costs. But the human cost to the Iraqis themselves are nearly ignored in political discourse, the news media, and intellectual circles. This site is a corrective to those oversights. We present empirical reports, studies, and other accounts that convey and assess the consequences of war for the people of Iraq.
Human trafficking reports fault Iraqi state: Among the consequences of war is the corrosion of social and institutional barriers to crime, and none is sadder than the rise of human trafficking. Iraq is apparently undergoing a spell of increasing trafficking, or at least more noticeable violations of sexual and labor trafficking….
New Analysis: Iraq Body Count missing 60-80% of fatalities: Iraq Body count records only about 20 percent of the fatalities listed in the U.S. military "after action" reports. This suggests that actual, violent deaths of Iraq civilians is likely to be close to 400,000 at a minimum.
Source:  http://mit.edu/humancostiraq/

3. Women’s Rights:
In October 2002, Saddam Hussein released criminals from Iraqi prisons. This, and the soon-to-follow 2003 US-led assault on Baghdad, created conditions for bloodletting, for a sharp increase in organized-crime trafficking in drugs, stolen cars, and women and girls; and for the ascendancy of armed Islamist conservatism. Saddam’s tightly controlled violence and reign of terror was replaced by unpredictable, widespread violence against Iraqi women. The immediate consequences for women: hijabs worn by Muslim and Christian women alike (and abayas in some regions) to avoid being harassed and beaten in public; an epidemic of women killed in the city of Basra by fundamentalist men who leave them in the street as a lesson to other women; increased rape, including of women in detention; abduction into prostitution; and a dramatic rise in “honor” killings, the murder of women and girls by male family members to restore family honor. Muta’a – Sharia law-permitted exploitation of women by men in so-called temporary marriages, which serve as fronts for prostitution – rose after the war began with men targeting desperate, penniless widows and the Shia militia targeting single girls….

The United States owes reparations to the people of Iraq for this unsanctioned war of aggression, most of all to the women and girls who have lost their future. An international agency such as the UNIFEM-Iraq office, in consultation with Iraqi feminist organizations, could assess the cost of war reparations to Iraqi women and girls. Funding would come annually from the U.S. defense budget beginning in 2011, for eight years – the length of the Iraq War. It could be dispensed through a board comprised of Iraqi NGOs working for girls’ and women’s freedoms, including education and job training; health care and widows’ pensions; shelters for sexually exploited women and girls; the promotion of secular law and women’s equality; training of judges, police, and media in preventing violence against women; and high profile law enforcement against sexual exploitation. All for the cost of a handful of Predator drones per year.
Source:  http://www.peacexpeace.org/2011/03/the-iraq-war-and-women-a-case-for-reparations/

4. Cost of War to U.S. People

Most of these stats are old:
  • Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.
  • Lost and Reported Stolen - $6.6 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, reported on June 14, 2011 by Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen who called it "the largest theft of funds in national history." (Source - CBS News) Last known holder of the $6.6 billion lost: the U.S. government.
  • Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)
  • Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings
  • Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion  
Source:  http://usliberals.about.com/od/homelandsecurit1/a/IraqNumbers.htm

5. Loss of Infrastructure
Electricity: Supply and Demand: Iraq’s electricity supply on the grid and estimated demand both reached record levels in July. Total supply averaged 175,580 megawatt-hours (MWh) per day, or 7,316 megawatts (MW). Each of the two components of current supply, power-plant production within Iraq and electricity imports from Iran, also achieved all-time highs. Demand, however, was almost twice the available supply— 336,900MWh per day, or 14,038MW— resulting in a 6,722MW supply-demand gap, the largest monthly shortfall to date….

Water and Sanitation: The GOI, UNICEF, and the European Union this quarter released the findings of a survey assessing the conditions of water and sanitation services in Iraq’s 18 provinces. The survey found that 79% of the population has access to the drinking water distribution network, leaving one in five Iraqis without access to safe drinking water. Access is worse in rural areas, where two in five Iraqis do not have access to drinking water networks. The survey also found that 17% of the population does not have access to adequate sanitation services.

6. Declining Literacy: 
“One in five Iraqis between the ages of 10 and 49 cannot read or write a simple statement related to daily life. While Iraq boasted a record low illiteracy rate for the Middle East in the 1980s, illiteracy jumped to at least 20% in 2010. Moreover, illiteracy among women in Iraq, at 24%, is more than double that of men (11%). As the Iraq Liaison for the international NGO Mercy Corps pointed out, "there are some locations-particularly rural locations-where the illiteracy rates are actually much higher. Illiteracy rates among women in some communities can be as high as 40-50%."…

UNESCO estimated that primary schools had nearly a 100% gross enrollment attendance rate in the 1980s and much of the 1990s.”
Source:  Sept. 28, 2010 Report, NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq 
  • Figures from the Iraqi Ministry of Education show that even before the escalation of sectarian violence in February 2006, one in six children did not attend primary school. Since the upsurge, that number is one in three.
  • Only one in five students at primary and secondary schools countrywide are girls. In the southern provinces, the ratio of girls attending school has dropped from two girls to three boys to one to four.
  • 92 percent of Iraqi children experience problems learning, primarily attributed to the overall climate of fear.
  • Many Iraqi refugee children have missed up to three years of school as a result of displacement and violence.
  • As of November 2007, 340,000 Iraqi school-age refugees in Syria are not in school.
  • Already overcrowded schools in Damascus now have up to 60 students per class. 
Source:  Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children
In spite of an Iraq war that began in 2003 and nearly constant news coverage, six in ten (63%) of those [Americans between the ages of 18-24] tested could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East. (Ten percent said Sudan was in Europe and 43% could not find New York on a map of the United States.)
Source:  http://technorati.com/lifestyle/travel/article/americans-lack-geographic-literacy-cant-find/#ixzz1h6xOOOyr

7. Sectarian and religious violence in Iraq
The sectarian violence that has swept across Iraq following last month's terrorist bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samara is yet another example of the tragic consequences of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Until the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation, Iraq had maintained a long-standing history of secularism and a strong national identity among its Arab population despite its sectarian differences.

Top analysts in the CIA and State Department, as well as large numbers of Middle East experts, warned that a U.S. invasion of Iraq could result in a violent ethnic and sectarian conflict. Even some of the war's intellectual architects acknowledged as much: In a 1997 paper, prior to becoming major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be "ripped apart" by sectarianism and other cleavages but called on the United States to "expedite" such a collapse anyway.

One of the long-standing goals of such neoconservative intellectuals has been to see the Middle East broken up into smaller ethnic or sectarian mini-states, which would include not only large stateless nationalities like the Kurds, but Maronite Christians, Druze, Arab Shi'ites, and others.
Source:  http://www.antiwar.com/orig/zunes.php?articleid=8668

8. PTSD, Suicide and Unemployment in Iraq War Veterans
The number of suicides reported by the Army has risen to the highest level since record-keeping began three decades ago. Last year, there were 192 among active-duty soldiers and soldiers on inactive reserve status, twice as many as in 2003, when the war began. (Five more suspected suicides are still being investigated.) This year’s figure is likely to be even higher: from January to mid-July, 129 suicides were confirmed or suspected, more than the number of American soldiers who died in combat during the same period.
Source:  8/1/2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/us/02suicide.html?ref=posttraumaticstressdisorder
“One in five service members who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, but little more than half of them have sought mental health treatment, according to an independent study of United States troops.”
Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/us/18vets.html?ref=posttraumaticstressdisorder

“On Veterans Day in America, it’s sobering to realize just how badly the job market has turned against the men and women who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their rate of unemployment was 12.1 percent in October, vs. 9 percent for the U.S. overall. But that only scratches the surface of the employment picture for vets.
“Dig deeper into the pages of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data and it becomes apparent that while the job market is slowly improving for most Americans, it’s moving in the opposite direction for Gulf War II vets (defined by the BLS as those on active duty since 2001). The youngest of veterans, aged 18 to 24, had a 30.4 percent jobless rate in October, way up from 18.4 percent a year earlier. Non-veterans of the same age improved, to 15.3 percent from 16.9 percent. For some groups, the numbers can look a good deal worse: for black veterans aged 18-24, the unemployment rate is a striking 48 percent.”
Source:  http://www.businessweek.com/finance/occupy-wall-street/archives/2011/11/the_vets_job_crisis_is_worse_than_you_think.html

9. Sexual violence at home and abroad
“Iraqi female detainees have been illegally detained, raped and sexually violated by United States military personnel. Women who stay at home in traditional roles are more likely to be imprisoned as bargaining chips by US troops seeking to pressurize male relatives, according to the New Statesmen (UK) . In December 2003, a woman prisoner, “Noor”, smuggled out a note stating that US guards at Abu Ghraib had been raping women detainees and forcing them to strip naked. Several of the women were now pregnant. … Among the 1,800 digital photographs taken by US guards inside Abu Ghraib there were… images of naked male and female detainees; a male Military Police guard “having sex” with a female detainee; and naked female detainees. The Bush administration has refused to release photographs of Iraqi women prisoners at Abu Ghraib, including those of women forced at gunpoint to bare their breasts (although these have been shown to Congress). UK Member of Parliament Ann Clwyd (L) has confirmed a report of an Iraqi woman in her 70s who had been harnessed and ridden like a donkey at Abu Ghraib.”
Source:  psychoanalystsopposewar.org/resources_files/SVIW-1.doc
“As the war in Afghanistan passes its ten-year mark, sexual assault runs rampant within the ranks, with an estimated one in three female service members raped during their service, according to at least one peer-reviewed study. This is in a military where women comprise more 11 per cent of active duty service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and more than 15 per cent of the total military, with at least 200,000 active duty women currently serving. This epidemic also affects men: 60 per cent of women serving in the National Guard and Reserve, along with 27 per cent of men, are estimated to have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Perpetrators rely on a chain of command that appears to offer virtual impunity for sexual assaults committed against lower-ranking service members.” 
Source:  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/09/2011916112412992221.html 
“What does it tell us that female soldiers deployed overseas stop drinking water after 7 p.m. to reduce the odds of being raped if they have to use the bathroom at night? Or that a soldier who was assaulted when she went out for a cigarette was afraid to report it for fear she would be demoted — for having gone out without her weapon? Or that, as Representative Jane Harman puts it, "a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire."
Source:  http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1968110,00.html#ixzz1h85MacBK
“MADRE, a global women's rights organization, is accusing Iraqi government security forces of sexually assaulting women to break up pro-democracy protests and demanding that officials intervene to protect the peaceful demonstrators.
MADRE's partner group, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), reported that activists were beaten, violently groped, and sexually assaulted by thousands of men who were bussed into Baghdad's Tehrir Square on June 10.…According to MADRE's press release, they believe that the attackers "were organized by Iraq’s official security forces and were un-uniformed to keep them from being held accountable." Some of the assailants were even carrying police identification cards.”
Source:  http://news.change.org/stories/madre-denounces-sexual-violence-against-iraqi-women-protesters
“A University of Vermont fraternity has been suspended and could face further discipline after it circulated a survey asking members to name the person they'd like to rape, and the frat's national organization said he was shocked by the local chapter's behavior.”
Source:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/12/vermont-fraternity-suspended-rape-question-survey.html

Why 9?  'Cause I thought I had ten but counted wrong.  And it's enough.

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