Part I of this article explained that the US was always a warrior, imperial nation, building it in steps and addicted to its madness. First we took it from its original inhabitants; then we expanded it beyond our borders by seizing the half of Mexico we wanted; later we established colonies abroad; and now, our method of choice is to rule the world through compliant leaders in client states everywhere serving our interests. We began doing it gradually following WW II when we emerged as the only dominant nation left standing, unchallengeable as the world's only economic, political and military superpower. Even before the war ended, we planned to take full advantage of that indomitable status once it did. We pursued it throughout the "cold war" and in the 1990s when it was over. Then came 9/11, the gloves came off in the Bush administration, and top officials in it ended any pretense of what our real aims are. The rest, as they say, is history, and the nations we target in our quest for world dominance and our own people at home pay a dreadful price. Below is a case study of our imperial madness in Iraq documenting how painful that price is.
A Case Study In Imperial Mayhem and Madness and Its Disasterous Consequences - First the Victims
If the US had a slogan or motto on how best to fight wars it might be "all's surely fair in war as well as love." The only rules we observe are the ones we make up as we go along. With that code of conduct and with total disregard for the rule of domestic or international law, designated targets can only expect their earth scorched followed by a living hell delivered in the name of democracy and liberation. Iraq, like Southeast Asia in the sixties and seventies and Nicaragua and El Salvador in the eighties, is a classic example with Afghanistan being more of the same. The people on our receiving end of our gunsights know democracy American-style is none at all.
For anyone paying attention to events unfolding in Iraq from the few credible sources available (meaning unembedded journalists, reports from our disillusioned military and leaks including high level ones), there's little doubt the situation on the ground is disastrous and getting worse - for us as well as the Iraqis. From these reports on the ground, we continue learning more of what the Pentagon and administration try to suppress, always with the full cooperation of the corporate-run media. But the truth can't be hidden, the lies are unravelling, and the charade of progress is being seen as a shamless myth.
For 26 million Iraqis, liberation American-style is none whatever. For them it's an endless living hell nightmare since the US first attacked and invaded in January, 1991. At that time we deliberately and illegally destroyed essential infrastructure like power generating stations and clean water facilities vital to the health, welfare and safety of the people. We also wontonly slaughtered many thousands of defenseless civilians and Iraqi military who had given up the fight they wanted no part of in the first place. The likely toll was at least 100,000 killed in just a few weeks of brutal one-sided combat mostly inflicted from the air against a target country we knew was defenseless. Our initial cost was modest for an operation involving 580,000 military personal - 146 killed (including by friendly fire) and 467 wounded. A far greater cost to US forces would show up later that's discussed below.
What followed Operation Desert Storm was a dozen years of continued air-assault bombings along with oppressive and unjustifiable economic sanctions. Combined they destroyed all the institutions of a modern civil society which Iraq was prior to 1991. They left in their wake an epic humanitarian disaster by every measure imaginable including median Iraqi income creating mass poverty. Because of the country's oil wealth, Iraq was once the most advanced and developed country in the Middle East with a per capita income of $2,313 in 1979. By 2003, that income had declined to $255 per capita and in 2004 it had fallen further to about $144. It's easy to understand why based on a study by the college of economics at Baghdad University that estimated the unemployment rate to be about 70%. Even the so-called "oil for food" program did little to relieve the crisis prior to the current invasion and war. It wasn't intended to as the US plan was to inflict the greatest possible hardships on the people hoping it would encourage them to rise up and topple Saddam. In fact, it had the opposite effect despite the severity of the toll. Instead of blaming Saddam, Iraqis relied on him for whatever relief they could get. It wasn't much or nearly enough because the US allowed him little to give.
The combination of war and economic sanctions likely caused the death of at least one million by even conservative estimates including 500,000 children. Other estimates put the number as high as 1.5 million in total by the end of the nineties. When Denis Halliday resigned in 1998 as UN head of Iraqi humanitarian relief he said he did so because he "had been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over one million individuals, children and adults." He went on to say 5,000 Iraqi children were dying needlessly every month.
Conditions got far worse following the US illegal aggression beginning in March, 2003. The daily toll of death and destruction from the ongoing endless conflict is unknown precisely, but even honest conservative estimates are appalling and shocking despite efforts by the Pentagon to suppress them. The British Lancet reported in October, 2004 by their "conservative assumptions" an Iraqi toll of about 100,000 "excess deaths" post March, 2003. They then updated their earlier estimate in February, 2006 to a likely 300,000 that seven months later is considerably higher. Other assessments suggest an even greater number, up to 500,000 according to one estimate a few months ago. Whatever the true number, the US inflicted disaster on Iraq and its people is one of epic proportions in all respects.
It's destroyed a once prosperous nation and left in its wake today a surreal lawless armed camp wasteland with few or no essential services like electricity, clean water, medical care, fuel or most everything else needed for sustenance and survival. It shows up in Baghdad's morgue that can't cope with the number of corpses it gets daily while those still living can't get desperately needed care at hospitals unable to provide it. It's also there in the US-run torture-prisons where anyone can be brutalized in a kind of a ritual foreplay for no reason at all. Thing's aren't improving. They get steadily worse as the occupation grinds on and death squads room at will including the US "Salvador option" ones modeled after the types used in the Reagan era against the leftist guerrilla resistance in El Salvador in the 1980s that murdered many thousands. This is what life in most of Iraq is now like, and it clearly warrants the label genocide. It also makes all US officials at the highest levels responsible for it guilty of egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity. Will they ever be held to account for what they've done? Never, as long as the US occupier lives by the rules of victor's justice that insures none at all for the victims.
A notable sign of US-style justice happened at the end of July when the Pentagon awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) to retiring General Geoffrey Miller who supervised the infamous US torture-prisons at Guantanamo and later Abu Ghraib. The DDSM was established by Richard Nixon's 1970 Executive Order so the Secretary of Defense could award it to officers of the US Armed Forces "whose exceptional performance of duty and contributions to national security or defense have been at the highest levels." Clearly generals or other officers in charge of torture now qualify for the award.
The Toll of Mayhem and Madness On Our Own Military Forces On the Ground and Reporters
No one should ever believe anything from government sources, especially our own. We practically invented and defined the art of disseminating lies and practicing deceit. We're at it daily, particularly in how and what we report on the war in Iraq. The military holds update briefings at its media nerve center for the war - CentCom. It's a worthless exercise there and whenever else US officials report on the war. Anyone expecting to get a true picture of conditions on the ground won't ever because the most important information known is censored or suppressed. In times of war, the first casualty is truth, and the corporate-run media is always willing to oblige to keep it that way.
The Pentagon is also ready to use its muscle to censor, shut down, or destroy any news source in the country that may reveal what it wants suppressed. It repeatedly harasses and assaults Al-Jazeera closing it down and in 2003 attacked its Baghdad offices by air killing one of its correspondents and injuring another. Previously in Afghanistan in November, 2001, Al-Jazeera's Kabul offices were destroyed by a US missile in a deliberate attempt to stop unfavorable news reports from coming out. Another time a US tank with no provocation fired point blank at the Palestine Hotel in the capitol where most non-embedded international journalists are based killing reporters from Reuters and the Spanish network Telecino. These are just a few examples of the deadly effects of US efforts to silence honest news reporting from the country. The International Press Institute (IPI) keeps a journalist death watch count and reports that including all of 2003 76 journalists have been killed in Iraq by all assailants making this country by far the most dangerous venue in the world for members of the fourth estate. That number has now been updated by other sources that report since March, 2003 to the present 107 journalists and other media workers have been killed in this most dangerous of all places for them to work.
In spite of the danger and toll its taken, much of what Washington and the corporate-run media conceal is being reported from unembedded journalists and a growing number of unofficial accounts emerging or leaking out. They show what conditions are really like on the ground and the effect the conflict has had on US ground forces in the country. They're being increasingly stressed and terrified out of their minds, most are physically and/or psychologically traumatized or ill, many quite seriously from the deadly effects of depleted uranium (DU) poisoning and other toxins that have already disabled as many as 350,000 or more Gulf war veterans according to what can be pieced together from the little information the Veterans Administration (VA) reports (they don't explain from what or make a serious effort to find out). The psychological toll is also growing from witnessing or obeying orders to participate in the daily barbaric slaughter of Iraqi civilians including women, children, the elderly and infirm. The result is the rate of suicides is believed to be rising to alarming levels as is the number of desertions the Pentagon reports to be about 40,000 since 2000 from all branches of the military, half of them from the Army. Over 5,500 of them are Iraq related (the Pentagon keeps this very quiet) with many dozens more joining their ranks each month. In addition, many others are refusing to return to Iraq for another tour of duty after serving there one or more times. Those who do it unannounced are being quietly discharged in most cases, while the ones going public to denounce the war saying they won't serve in it any longer face courts martial, dishonorable discharge and possible prison terms.
Little of the above information has been reported, but most disturbing of all is the true unreported daily death and injury toll of US military personnel that's far higher than the official numbers. Department of Defense (DOD) reports are now being quietly circulated indicating over 12,000 dead, not the current announced total approaching 2,700. That figure includes thousands of previously unreported deaths of US military personnel who died en route to German or other hospitals or after arriving there. There's also evidence from Military Air Transport Service (MATS) manifests that show many more bodies shipped to Dover Air Force Base than are officially reported when there are any reports at all.