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American arrogance at its finest

20 Dec 2011 - 10:40

Islam Times - Last week as the US announced the alleged end of the Iraq war and the apparent success of creating a stable and sovereign country I couldn’t help but wonder whether Mr Obama was referring to a different Iraq than the one I saw on the news day in day out...

Islam Times: Like a man in denial of his own weaknesses and failures, Obama rather unconvincingly spoke of how the soldiers leaving would do so with their “heads held high”, the words echoing his predecessor’s ‘mission accomplished’ drivel.

After a total of eight years, eight months and 26 days, $823.2bn, and the loss of 4,500 US military personnel, Leon Panetta told the soldiers:

“You came to this land between the rivers again and again and again, you will leave with great pride – lasting pride.”

Had that been the total loss of life perhaps these words would have been acceptable, but in reality 4,500 is but a fraction when compared to the loss of Iraqi lives, most of them civilians. According to the UK-based Iraq Body Count civilian deaths are currently estimated at around 113,770, this figure could increase by up to 15,000 after complete analysis of the Iraq War Logs leaks. However the IBC concedes that this figure may still be considerably below the actual number of fatalities, since many deaths will have gone unreported.

In 2006 a controversial report in the Lancet Medical Journal, estimated the the number of Iraqi deaths as a result of the US-led invasion to be around 655,000. Even if this report had exaggerated the number of deaths, it shows extreme discrepancies in the number of Iraqis killed since 2003.

This inconsistency as mentioned earlier is largely due to many deaths going unreported, therefore estimates of civilian deaths based on household surveys are significantly higher than the official line.

A fine example of US failure to record and report civilian casualties caused by them comes in the two major battles fought in 2004 in Falluja. Despite numerous buildings being reduced to rubble by US air strikes, tank shells and howitzers, and well-attested deaths of hundreds of civilians, the leaked US internal field reports showed no record of civilian deaths. At other times when the mention of Iraqi deaths was inevitable, all corpses would be identified as ‘enemy’.

In truth, the exact number of Iraqi deaths since the Bush-Blair invasion will probably never be known. What is known is that the figure is almost certainly higher than the one provided by ‘official’ sources, many more have been injured, millions have been displaced and Iraq is struggling with a wide range of issues.

Amongst the Iraqi population there seems to be a feeling of contempt towards the US soldiers and a degree of scepticism over their apparent departure from the country.

Mundhar Kamel, 65, said the so-called departure would change little. “This move is them exiting from one door and entering from another,” he said.
“In the embassy they still have 15,000 people and there is talk about 3,000 more [military] trainers. This is not a withdrawal, this is an act on a stage. We haven't gained anything from the country. They destroyed the country and now they are leaving.”

Others feel the American presence fuelled the sectarian violence of recent years, and there is hope this exit will be the first step in reuniting the people of Iraq.

No matter what political affiliation or views people on the ground have, one thing is crystal clear, the Americans have nothing to be proud of and hollow words and symbolic ceremonies can do nothing to transform this reality.

© Islam Times