The outcome is doubtful at best. Recently,
President Obama declared, "A war is ending," a curious choice of words. Imagine
that, after eight years and nine months, POTUS simply says the war is over
because all American combat troops will be home for Christmas.
This is a very cheery thought suitable for the Christmas season. However, as a modest war historian I have some very serious doubts. No one has surrendered. There is no truce. Sunni insurgents, Al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), the Shiite militias, and the Kurdish militants are still there and they have given no indication of giving up the fight. The jealousies remain. The thirst for power amongst the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds remains while AQI still wants to wreak havoc in this forlorn land.
Nearly nine years after the U.S. illegally invaded Iraq this war may finally be coming to end. As the reader will soon see emphasis is on "may." At what cost this war? What was gained? What was lost? Those questions will be answered in conjunction with the dubious future of Iraq.
The U.S. death toll was over 4,500 soldiers while over 32,000 were wounded. The short-term cost of the war is nearly $1 trillion and counting. The long-term cost of the war will be double or triple that and this is assuming Obama's optimism prevails and Iran behaves.
Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor reports, "The human toll on the Iraqi side is virtually unquantifiable [sic] and unimaginable, with estimates of the number of people who perished in the years of insurgency and sectarian civil war reaching into the hundreds of thousands."
So, what Christmas cheer is in store for Americans as the remaining troops packed their toothbrushes, shaving kits, and uniforms in duffel bags and left Iraq to neighboring Kuwait on Dec. 18th? Put a different way, what is the current condition of Iraq? The answers to that question cast grave doubts that this war is at endgame or will be for the foreseeable future. This is said with all due respect to President Obama and his eternal optimism.
Contrary to Obama's optimism and the assessment of generals -- the top US commander in Iraq, Gen. Lloyd Austin, says he expects "turbulence" in the last days of US forces being here, but adds that Iraqis now "approach the ability to manage themselves" -- the situation in Iraq is not good.
Yas Khudair al-Khafaji lost his daughter, Rousel, age 11, wife and nephew to an attack carried out by Iraqi insurgents in Nov. 2005. Khafaji blames his searing loss on the United States as an occupying force. Protecting Iraqis, he says, was the responsibility of American troops, and they didn't do it. He also blames Iraqi politicians who, he says, "fight for power and forget the Iraqi people," according to Peterson. The CSM reporter adds, "A complicated mix of similar complaints echoes across Iraq nearly nine years after one of the most defining and destructive wars in the modern history of the Middle East. While some fault America for starting the war, others blame "terrorists' for Iraq's years of chaos, or meddling nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Still others absolve US forces and accuse their own leaders of fueling intra-Iraq violence."
Also contrary to the optimism of U.S. officials Iraq is not Disneyland. In November of this year the enemy carried out more than 100 targeted killings in Baghdad Province alone.
That is only the beginning of the deplorable conditions Iraqis face today as a direct consequence of the American invasion.
The United Nations estimates that 23 percent of the population lives below the poverty line on less than $2.20 a day. Children are "chronically malnourished" and school attendance is down. Baghdad is currently in a two-year old political deadlock. Maliki's cabinet is still incomplete, with key portfolios, such as defense and national security, remaining in his hands. Worse is the pessimism Iraqis feel toward the Maliki government as they are concerned over whether Iraq's ever-bickering politicians can lead the nation to a better post-US future or not. An influential Iraqi stated, "People go to parliament for their own profit and their power, not to do their best for the Iraqi nation." Transparency International, a Germany-based watchdog group, ranks Iraq 175 out of 182 in a global corruption index, ahead of such countries as Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), and Somalia.
Then there are the more tangible concerns as Iraqis still struggle with perennial problems such as a lack of electricity. While power production has risen from 8 to 18 hours per household per day in the past four years, US auditors report that electricity shortages still affect 80 percent of the population and that the Ministry of Electricity "has been unable to close the supply-demand gap." Peterson reports, "Since 2003, this problem has particularly galled Iraqis, who regularly ask why the world's sole superpower, which has spent some $62 billion on reconstruction, couldn't overcome chronic security issues and provide the basic electricity they need. An upbeat 2004 US government reconstruction overview, called "Our Commitment to Iraq,' stated that restoring electricity was "critical to the establishment of all facets of Iraqi society.'" In addition potable water, a matter we Westerners take for granted, is in short supply.
President Obama recently proclaimed, that US troops would depart Iraq "with their heads held high, proud of their success." Yet, as Peterson reports, "The colorful advertisements are now a regular feature in Iraqi newspapers. In half-page spreads, often on the front page, they depict Shiite religious or Iraqi nationalist symbols, superimposed with slogans that decree: "The sun of freedom burns the darkness of the occupation' or "The government and people are one hand to kick out the occupiers.' The date of the final US departure blares in bold print.
"So much for a brass band exit for American troops."
At least Obama didn't declare victory. The troops are not fools. They know better, mission failure.
Now we come to Iran. A decidedly bad situation just got a whole lot worse. It is assumed that the reader is knowledgeable of the controversy over whether or not Iran is developing nuclear weapons. That is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg in a manner of speaking. In point of fact the nuclear weapons issue is, at present, relatively unimportant according to many observers. This is due to the unalterable fact that there is virtually no proof that Iran is doing any such thing. The most recent IAEA report offers substance to that conclusion because it offered no proof of Iran's deviousness and did not say Iran was making a nuke; only that Iran is suspected of doing so. There are far more concrete matters that concern Washington vis-Ã-vis Iraq.
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