I mention Iraq in the title since it isn’t too much of a stretch for readers to think that I am talking about the situation here in the US as well. And while it is fairly obvious that the situation in Iraq is horrific, we generally only get blurbs about the violence and a ton of effort focused on our troops, contractors or other similar angles.
I don’t want to do that, at least not today. What I want to talk about here is the Iraqi civilians.
I have written before about the plight of Iraqis in the past, but not nearly enough. How there are thousands of additional refugees every day, how the middle and professional classes have long since fled. How water, jobs and electricity are all scarce. How it would only take around $100 million to put over 150,000 Iraqis back to work at the state run businesses...
There has been much “buzz” about how republicans are finally admitting that the “surge” was a complete unmitigated disaster and a drawdown of troops is something that should be considered, not to mention words of “I can no longer support a failed approach”. And while that is nice to hear on one hand, and way too late on the other hand, it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how much worse things have gotten in Iraq lately.
After a while, numbers have less of an impact. A few weeks ago, I was told in a diary I wrote about violence in Afghanistan that it was no big deal that there were some bombings and killings because a few dozen every week wasn’t all that much. We see stories every day how “dozens of tortured bodies were found in the streets of Baghdad”, or that “four troops were killed by an IED” or that “three suicide bombers killed 50 and injured 100 more” – the numbers are too much to even fathom.
Imagine if only one suicide bomb or car bomb went off here in the US. Now picture 4 of them. Every single day. For five years. And getting worse.
Lists like this come out every single day, and have been getting longer, more grizzly and more telling of the chaos. But that only talks about those who have died, been killed, tortured or whatever other horror awaited. Stories like this one from CBS News last Friday talk about those who are still around – those who are living without hope:
CBS News has learned that on July 15, they [Iraq leaders] plan to ask for a no-confidence vote in the Iraqi parliament as the first step to bringing down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Even those closest to the Iraqi prime minister, from his own party, admit the political situation is desperate.
"I feel there is no strategy, so the people become hopeless," said Faliy al Fayadh, an MP from the Dawa Party. "You can live without petrol, without electricity, but you can't live without hope."
So much for liberation, spreading freedom and bettering their lives after Saddam’s regime was taken out. How Iraqis could be longing for the days when Saddam was in power is a testament to just how so completely fucked this administration has made that country. Just about the only thing that the Iraqi Parliament has been able to agree upon is the fact that they want our troops out and out as soon as possible. And even with the outward support for Maliki, it is rumored that this no confidence vote got the approval of Cheney himself.
It was also reported over the weekend that pretty much NONE of the security and political goals set out in January will be met. No worries of course, the Iraqi people don’t need to worry about there being no security (as the escalation has backfired and can be described in a best case scenario as “whack-a-mole”). They don’t need any form of government either or jobs, electricity, food, water because those aren’t really the Bush administration’s goals in Iraq either:
In a preview of the assessment it must deliver to Congress in September, the administration will report that Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province are turning against the group al-Qaeda in Iraq in growing numbers; that sectarian killings were down in June; and that Iraqi political leaders managed last month to agree on a unified response to the bombing of a major religious shrine, officials said.
Those achievements are markedly different from the benchmarks Bush set when he announced his decision to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Iraq. More troops, Bush said, would enable the Iraqis to proceed with provincial elections this year and pass a raft of power-sharing legislation. In addition, he said, the government of President Nouri al-Maliki planned to "take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November."
Of course, these benchmarks were put into law, and are not even remotely related to other arbitrary and temporary signs of “improvement” which really have no material long term impact on Iraqis lives. But even this is, well, bullshit, frankly, to Iraqis lives, as lawmakers have now told them to just arm themselves and defend themselves from the ongoing carnage:
During a news conference Sunday in Baghdad, Abbas al-Bayati, a Shiite Turkmen lawmaker, criticized the security situation in Armili. In the absence of enough security forces, al-Bayati said authorities should help residents "arm themselves" for their own protection.
The call for civilians to take up arms in their own defense was echoed by the country's Sunni Arab vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi.
"People have a right to expect from the government and security agencies protection for their lives, land, honor and property," al-Hashimi said in a statement. "But in the case of [their] inability, the people have no choice but to take up their own defense."
As if there needed to be an excuse for more violence – the “leaders” in Iraq have basically thrown up their hands and told the already-hopeless Iraqis that they are on their own, grab a gun and good luck to you.
Because, you know, that will really make the situation less volatile and give the Iraqis more hope for a better future.