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The Real U.S. Legacy in Iraq Ten Years Later: Death, Disease, Devastation, and Displacement.

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by Larry Everest

Ten years ago, on March 19-20, 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime, and then occupied the country for the next eight-and-a-half years. President George W. Bush said the U.S. went to war to liberate Iraq and "free its people." This March 19, President Barack Obama issued a statement saluting the U.S. military for their service and for giving "the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future...."

What did this U.S. war mean for Iraqis? What does it mean for their future? Here are the facts:

  • The number of Iraqis killed in military actions between March 2003 and December 31, 2011 (when U.S. military forces withdrew): at least 121,754.

  • The total number of Iraqi deaths resulting directly and indirectly from the war, including those due to the destruction of water and power systems, and disruptions to healthcare and food production: 655,000, according to a 2006 Lancet study; one million, according to a 2008 Opinion Research Business study; and by current estimate: 1.2 to 1.4 million.

  • Iraqis injured: 4.2 million.

  • Iraqis driven from their homes: 4.5 million.

  • The number of U.S. military personnel killed through 2012: 4,486.

  • The number of investigations by the U.S. military and government, or by American media, into how many Iraqis were killed, wounded, displaced or died as a result of the war and occupation: None.

  • Number of mentions of Iraqi suffering in Obama's statement on the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq: None.

  • The number of Iraqi women made widows by the war (many of whom were forced into prostitution): 2 million. 

  • Women's legal status: Now worse than under Saddam Hussein. Iraq's secular constitution has been replaced with one based on reactionary Sharia law, which prescribes separate and unequal laws for women. Women's rights advocates report "a spike in honor killings, forced veiling, and a growing tolerance for beating women into subordination." They note, too, that "violence against women has also been systematic...orchestrated by some of the very forces that the U.S. boosted to power." (Common Dreams.)

  • The U.S. used cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and depleted uranium against the Iraqi people, all of which are weapons of mass destruction suspected of causing cancer and birth defects. As disclosed in a November, 2005 broadcast of Democracy Now, "From 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II."

  • In November, 2005, U.S. Marines murdered 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha and then blamed it on "insurgents."

  • In 2006, in Ishaqi in central Iraq, "U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence." (Reported by McClatchy Newspapers.)

  • In July, 2007, a U.S. helicopter gunned down 11 civilians in Baghdad. Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar wrote that "From an Iraqi perspective it just tells a story of an average day under the occupation."

  • The U.S. military tortured and sexually degraded and abused thousands of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and other torture centers, stripping them naked and terrorizing and humiliating them with dogs. In 2008, more than 24,000 Iraqis were being held in U.S.-run prisons, most without charges.

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Larry Everest is the author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda (Common Courage 2004), a correspondent for Revolution newspaper (www.revcom.us) where this first appeared, who has reported from Iran, Iraq and Palestine, and a (more...)
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