“The issue is not whether the Iraqi people will greet U.S. soldiers as their liberators, but what will they do six months after that.
I find it naive and disingenuous to claim that you can create democracy in Iraq any time soon.
The administration has already assured us that the U.S. will not stay there for very long, and, if that is the case, then the goal of establishing a constitutional system in Iraq is a joke.”
– Gen. William Odom, February 2003
The late Gen. Odom was my most-favorite commentator on the whole messed-up adventure in Iraq — he pulled no punches and was a welcome sight on PBS.
Of course, the network and cable news outlets wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole — they had the Pentagon’s generals to provide biased-color commentary on the Iraqi business.
Odom called the real deal: “The invasion of Iraq I believe will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.”
An ugly joke with one long, asshole-of-a-punchline.
(Illustration found here).
The latest bit of shit to come out of Iraq — beyond President Obama’s phoney-baloney announcement that ‘all’ US troops will be out of that destroyed country by this year’s end — is a report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) on another disaster within the greater disaster.
The lede graph in the CNN story tells the tale:
As the U.S. military heads towards the exits in Iraq, a new report released Sunday on a major reconstruction project there reads like a critique of the war in general — poorly planned, unexpectedly costly, years behind schedule and with an uncertain future.
The project in question is the Fallujah Waste Water System, an operation that should have raised alarms at its very conception, but back in those days, no one with any sense at all was in charge.
Another example of wasted lives and treasure — the system was supposed to handle 100,000 Iraqi homes, but up to last month, only 6,000 have been connected, and the project was suppose to cost $35 million, but now its cost is $100 million with no end in sight.
“In the end, it would be dubious to conclude that this project helped stabilize the city, enhanced the local citizenry’s faith in government, built local service capacity, won hearts or minds, or stimulated the economy.”
“Coupled with the fact that the outcome achieved was a wastewater treatment system operating at levels far below what was anticipated, it is difficult to conclude that the project was worth the $100 million investment and the many lives lost.”
Gen. Odom would turn over in his grave with shame.
As the so-called last of US troops get ready to depart, they will leave in their wake a country that’s not only dangerous, but completely screwed.
Also included in that SIGIR report was comments from Lt. Gen. Babakir Zebari, Iraq’s defense chief, who says that the Iraqi military won’t be able to operate on its own until sometime between 2020 and 2024.
Until then what happens?
Gen. Odom underestimated the horror — beyond the US tragedy (4,481 GIs killed, more than 32,000 wounded, and more than 30 percent of all US armed forces have some form of PTSD) the death and destruction to the Iraqi nation is near impossible to grasp.
From The Nation last week:
The Brookings Institute estimates that 115,250 Iraqi civilians were killed during the war.
Iraq Body Count puts the figure at between 103,158 and 112,724 people.
Other estimates of excess deaths from the war, such as the Lancet survey and the Opinion Research Business survey, are substantially higher, but it is enough here to grapple with the most conservative estimates.
But that comparison understates how devastating the war has been to Iraq, because it ignores Iraqi combatants who’ve been killed, and neither does it address displaced persons.
By a conservative estimate, 3,700,000 Iraqis have been displaced from their homes by the war.
By way of comparison, a year after Hurricane Katrina, the population of a devastated New Orleans had shrunk by 378,000 people.
Or put another way, if you cleared every last person out of Los Angeles, you could fill the city back up to its current population with displaced Iraqis.
And further to inflame an out-of-control fire, 40 percent of Iraqi professionals have left the country since 2003, and Iraq had 34,000 physicians before the invasion, now have about 12,000.
A shitty life there, and it’s George Jr.’s fault — why isn’t he in jail?
The financial cost of the Iraqi war keeps piling up — for a never-ending dial, see Cost of War — the amount this morning is $801,234,070…and climbing by the second.
The Christian Science Monitor remembers this: When President George W. Bush launched the war, charging incorrectly that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Pentagon estimated its cost at $50 billion to $60 billion. Economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey got in hot water at the White House when he guessed in public the war could cost as much as $200 billion.
I’m not joking — If I was joking, it’d go something like this: Horse walks into a bar, bartender asks, “Why the long face?”