‘Just a cost of doing business’

December 16, 2011

Opened with a big bang — ‘shock and awe’ — and closed with a deceitful shudder.

The US ended its military misadventure on Iraq yesterday awash in bullshit.
Leon Panetta has got to be one of the most disingenuous and hypocritical assholes this side of Newt Gingrich, claiming the Iraqi debacle was worth the price in blood and money because it set Iraq on a path to democracy.

“You will leave with great pride – lasting pride,” Mr Panetta told the troops.
“Secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to begin a new chapter in history.”

No wonder the US is disliked by so much of the planet.

(Illustration found here).

Worth it, Leon?

The UK’s The Guardian has a good overview this morning of the ‘worth’ in the Iraqi horror story:

  • The US has lost 4,484 military personnel since 2003 in Iraq – the vast majority of the 4,802 coalition casualties. This year has seen casualties too – 54 people have been killed, although that is much lower than the 2007 peak of 904. (Reportedly, my state, California, seemed to carry a big burden — 388 of the state’s people were killed).
    Thousands more have been wounded in Iraq – 32,200 at last count, 22,490 of them in the Army, followed by 8,622 US Marines.
  • The war in Iraq has cost the US $823.2bn since 2003 – and in 2011 cost $49.3bn, only $4bn less than 2003 when the invasion happened.
  • Civilians have suffered enormously in Iraq — the data above comes from Iraq Body Count, which monitors reported deaths and reckons up to 113,728 Iraqis have died.
    Recently, IBC reported that at least 1,003 suicide bombings caused civilian casualties in Iraq from 2003 to 2010.
    The Wikileaks data showed how many died, particularly in the violent sectarian aftermath of the war, with murders as the main cause.
    That database recorded 109,032 deaths , 66,081 of them civilians, 23,984 insurgents and 15,196 Iraqi security forces.
    The worst place for deaths was Baghdad, with 45,497.

And that’s just a quick look — a closer view makes for a grim read.

One of those is a small slice of the horror — the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in Anbar Province.
From TruthOut:

“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq.
At times, he said, deaths were caused by “grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians.”
The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq.
Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad.
An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.
Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.
But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand.
In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine.

And from the testimony of Major Gen Steve Johnson, then-commander of US forces in Anbar Province:

“There were other — this was November — so we had been at it since March.
And examples of many civilians being killed at a given time were precedent for that.
It happened all the time, not necessarily in the west all the time, but throughout the whole country.

But at that point in time, I felt that that was — had been, for whatever reason, part of that engagement and felt that it was just a cost of doing business on that particular engagement.”

Killing a guy in a wheelchair, and babies?
Cost of doing business…

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