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U.S. Leaves Iraq Much Worse Off

Posted on Aug 23, 2010
U.S. Navy / MC2 Ted Green

By Adil E. Shamoo

This article was produced by Foreign Policy In Focus. (CC-BY)

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Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq.

UN-HABITAT, an agency of the United Nations, recently published a 218-page report entitled State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011. The report is full of statistics on the status of cities around the world and their demographics. It defines slum dwellers as those living in urban centers without one of the following: durable structures to protect them from climate, sufficient living area, sufficient access to water, access to sanitation facilities, and freedom from eviction.

Almost intentionally hidden in these statistics is one shocking fact about urban Iraqi populations. For the past few decades, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent. Today, that percentage has risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers. In the past decade, most countries have made progress toward reducing slum dwellers. But Iraq has gone rapidly and dangerously in the opposite direction.

According to the U.S. Census of 2000, 80 percent of the 285 million people living in the United States are urban dwellers. Those living in slums are well below 5 percent. If we translate the Iraqi statistic into the U.S. context, 121 million people in the United States would be living in slums.


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If the United States had an unemployment rate of 25-50 percent and 121 million people living in slums, riots would ensue, the military would take over, and democracy would evaporate. So why are people in the United States not concerned and saddened by the conditions in Iraq? Because most people in the United States do not know what happened in Iraq and what is happening there now. Our government, including the current administration, looks the other way and perpetuates the myth that life has improved in post-invasion Iraq. Our major news media reinforces this message.

I had high hopes that the new administration would tell the truth to its citizens about why we invaded Iraq and what we are doing currently in the country. President Obama promised to move forward and not look to the past. However problematic this refusal to examine on the past — particularly for historians — the president should at least inform the U.S. public of the current conditions in Iraq. How else can we expect our government to formulate appropriate policy?

More extensive congressional hearings on Iraq might have allowed us to learn about the myths propagated about Iraq prior to the invasion and the extent of the damage and destruction our invasion brought on Iraq. We would have learned about the tremendous increase in urban poverty and the expansion of city slums. Such facts about the current conditions of Iraq would help U.S. citizens to better understand the impact of the quick U.S. withdraw and what are our moral responsibilities in Iraq should be.

Adil E. Shamoo is a senior analyst at Foreign Policy In Focus, and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He writes on ethics and public policy. He can be reached at:

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm Link to this comment

Finding a correct spelling book, for translating German
words into the English-American language is

The name of the little burg is spelled
with an Umlaut, which translates into “oe”, not"e”. If
you have found a dorf named Derlitzsch, about 25 KM SE
of Leipzig, congratulations. That is probably it. There
are numerous dorfs in that vicinity the endings of
whose names contain “itzsch”.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 7, 2010 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

Could it be, Delitzsch, near Leipzig?

One needs the proper spelling book.

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 6, 2010 at 11:53 pm Link to this comment

One needs the proper map.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, September 6, 2010 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment


“Why is “”“Doerlitschz”“”, Germany, no longer on the map?”

It never was.

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By Marshall, September 6, 2010 at 12:56 am Link to this comment

By RayLan, September 5 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

Whatever your belief about the intelligence, I disagree that the war rational
changed over time.  The ‘02 SOTU pre-invasion speech articulated several reasons
(WMD, regime change, prevention of Shiite genocide) as did other public speeches
before and during the conflict.  The WMD reason was a consistent theme until it
was finally proven wrong.

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By Marshall, September 6, 2010 at 12:50 am Link to this comment

By LocalHero, September 5 at 1:33 am Link to this comment

I’m trying to discern your argument, which seems to be that that the federal
government would decide to blow a couple of trillion dollars, a whole bunch of
global good will and republican political capital on a war whose purpose was to
cross its fingers that the new Iraqi govt. would award far less lucrative oil
drilling contracts to a variety of multi-national corporations, most of whom
aren’t based in the U.S….  all with the aim of speeding Iraqi oil production
(which is not yet up to pre-war levels) and lowering global oil prices (which are
now higher than they were) to the benefit of the U.S..  Sounds like a plan.  ... a
really bad one.

Of course that’s not even what the left was claiming when the war was going
badly.  It said we were there to steal Iraq’s oil.  This despite the fact that Iraq’s
oil fields remain 100% state owned and its OPEC membership means the world
buys every drop it gets and the U.S. has no special benefit.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, September 5, 2010 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

Would that the war could be attributed to bad intelligence - I have enough intelligence to know that the disinformation was deliberate. The evidence was simply missing - though, before going to war, it should have proved beyond the shadow of a doutg. But it didn’t end there- one rationale was shifted for another like a political shell game. It became ‘getting the Sadam/Hitler’ and then it became ‘nation building’ blah blah… The US was in bed with Saddam for years - not to mention the total lack of connection with 9/11

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 4, 2010 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment

Truthdig posted a new article, “BLACKWATER USED
brief glance of the dishonesty that is spawned by
elected “leaders” of whats left of the U.S. of A.

Their pimps can puke up some interesting “fairy
tales” to conceal their dishonest endeavors and shell companies.

ENRON was verified to have had over five hundred and
fifty accounts in “offshore banks.” And guess how
many of them were fronts for elected U.S. “leaders,”
the “company” they represent,
and company mercenaries ?

I wonder how much U.S. citizens are bilked annually for
only keeping their books?

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm Link to this comment

“The US derives little income from this arrangement
so if the purpose of the war there was “all about
oil” then we executed pitifully and Bush should
should be flogged for screwing it up.”

Agreed. The U.S. only paid and continues to pay the
bill. The income went and goes to a double hand-full
of mercenaries and the “company” they represent.

As for Junior Bush, rather than flogging, more
appropriate U.S. Constitutional modalities are
applicable to not only him, but rather the entirety
of the offspring of a Herr George H.W. Bush, Sr.

Why is Doerlitschz, Germany, no longer on the map?

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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, September 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment

Sorry Marshall, your information, while partially correct, isn’t the truth and I suspect you know it.

While a contract has, technically, only gone to one “US company” (whatever that is) they have certainly been awarded to the big multi-nationals like Exxon-Mobil, Royal Dutch shell, BP and (surprise, surprise) Haliburton. In addition, some of the other consortiums have US companies as junior partners.

Makes for a great excuse though. A country is sitting on a lake of oil reserves that the corporatocracy doesn’t believe is being pumped fast enough so we send in the troops to rape, er, “utilize their resources” more efficiently. What an ingenious (and ultra-profitable) scam!

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, August 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Again, well said Marshall.

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By Marshall, August 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

By Malcontent, August 25 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

Your link is out of date and from a self-described “anti-globalization activist”
website.  Not exactly objective fact.

Fact is, Iraq’s oil industry is currently all state owned.  Iraq doesn’t have the
infrastructure to extract all its oil which is why the Iraq Oil Services Contracts
were put up for bid in 2009.  And notice I said “extract” because this has
nothing to do with selling the oil.  A US company won only one of them; China,
UK, Malasia, Russia, etc… got the most with Iraq receiving huge revenue from
its 25% of all field shares.  All of this allows Iraq to exploit its own reserves
(which it currently can’t do) and become self-sufficient in the energy sector.  I
assume you’d support that.  The US derives little income from this arrangement
so if the purpose of the war there was “all about oil” then we executed pitifully
and Bush should should be flogged for screwing it up.


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By josephe.marshjr, August 26, 2010 at 4:12 am Link to this comment

The real surprise about this is that anyone is at all

What else could anyone have ever expected? The exact
same pack of vandals and thieves has for long been busy
at the same sort of work in the US.

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By Malcontent, August 25, 2010 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

By Marshall, August 25 at 4:46 pm

” As the main
criticism of “it’s all about oil” proved baseless”

“In the new setting, with Washington running the show, “friendly” companies expect to gain most of the lucrative oil deals that will be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in profits in the coming decades. The Iraqi constitution of 2005, greatly influenced by US advisors, contains language that guarantees a major role for foreign companies. Negotiators hope soon to complete deals on Production Sharing Agreements that will give the companies control over dozens of fields, including the fabled super-giant Majnoon. But first the Parliament must pass a new oil sector investment law allowing foreign companies to assume a major role in the country. The US has threatened to withhold funding as well as financial and military support if the law does not soon pass. Although the Iraqi cabinet endorsed the draft law in July 2007, Parliament has balked at the legislation. Most Iraqis favor continued control by a national company and the powerful oil workers union strongly opposes de-nationalization. Iraq’s political future is very much in flux, but oil remains the central feature of the political landscape.”


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Peter Knopfler's avatar

By Peter Knopfler, August 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Question, How do wars contribute to population control. Also how do natural disasters contribute to population control, put them both together as in Pakistan, “never let a disaster go to waste”  notice the same people who make money on wars also make money on population control, have you got your flu shot yet? Americans attacking Yemen, drone your way through, “Oh hey can you see the drones by the sea”. Not to feel left out, USA, drones to be used on the Texas Mexico border. All wars end in a Mess, of mass destruction, Denial leads to more wars! “See yourself in others, then whom can you harm, be harmless.”

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, August 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

Well said Marshall.

And, of course, Obama doesn’t give a damn about the Iraqis either, else he’d have conditioned his withdrawal timetable on more concrete political, security and infrastructure benchmarks being met. But he, like his supporters, sees Iraq in a vacuum, victims of a Bush Jr temper tantrum, and withdrawal as soon as possible as one of his electoral mandates.

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By Marshall, August 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

By RayLan, August 25 at 8:05 am

It wasn’t just “people” that believed this, but Congress itself.  What’s interesting is
to see the anti-war left without an explanation for the Iraq war.  As the main
criticism of “it’s all about oil” proved baseless, they are left with the inescapable
realization that perhaps the war was initiated for the reasons articulated at the
start: our belief, based on faulty intelligence, that Iraq had WMD, thus his
intransigence with the UN along with being fed up with continued enforcement of
expensive no-fly zones and Saddam’s support for terrorism abroad and ongoing
genocide at home.  But in the process we lost a bulwark against Iran’s emerging
regional ego and this is probably the most dangerous outcome and one we’ll be
forced to confront all too soon.

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By ejreed, August 25, 2010 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Iraq’s Dark Age
Eight hot summers after American troops entered Iraq, one of the most basic needs, electricity, remains unreliable.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, August 25, 2010 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

Like they do in the USA political campaigns, you have to ask the average Iraqi is he better off now or under Saddam Hussein.  I wonder what the answer would be?!

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crashbigtime's avatar

By crashbigtime, August 25, 2010 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

“War is the blackest spot on the human character…
War retards social progress; both the first and
second world wars retarded social progress… War is
always fought in futility… We must teach our
descendants to do all they can to avoid this
mistake.” - remarks of P.R. Sarkar made in Fiesch,
Switzerland, 1979, as heard and recalled by the

So, here we have evidence that the war in Iraq has
also retarded social progress.

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By Igloo, August 25, 2010 at 4:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

America in the 1930’s was a saner place, building infrastructure and not trying to run the world. No one would think of throwing bombs at the US embassies overseas. Now everywhere we go the American presence is in the shape of a fortress. We have a whole nation under siege with no end in sight .....

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, August 25, 2010 at 4:05 am Link to this comment

People in the US were gullible enough to believe that Iraq had WAMDs and that meant they might attack us - because of 9/11 - It’s hard to really put together any coherent rationale for the war - because there isn’t one. For years I kept hearing people talk about how the soldiers were ‘protecting’ us from…
It was initially supposed to be shock and awe - a quick in and out. Everything about this so-called war was a lie.

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By MeHere, August 24, 2010 at 10:41 pm Link to this comment

Most people in the US don’t care at all whether Iraq is in better or worse shape
after the invasion. And that’s the big issue.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, August 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

US Stupditiy against Iraqi sovereignty- Gee the stupdity isn’t winning.

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By Audrey Leff, August 24, 2010 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Now George W. Bush can truly say “Mission Accomplished”. Misery is what he wanted to create and it has come to it.

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Peter Knopfler's avatar

By Peter Knopfler, August 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

Did anyone really think that the USA ARMY would leave anything in a better place, Iraq was and is just a spring board to the rest of the Tribal areas, all part of the ENDLESS war machine, out source jobs an economic draft into the military machine, 900 bases need men, abroad not at home, cut down the options for young people, make it look like it`s voluntary military service, give your body to science while your still alive- A patriot, they will say. Chin up boys a “marching we will go”, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, now Somalia the War machine is on the move, people dieing, so what, who cares, too many people anyways, Just another face of population control.Never let a disaster go to waste, lets make a disaster like IRAQ! not to worry, afghanistan will do too.“Oh Hey, Can You See, by the light”, “I used to be lost, now I`m just blind”, America please wake up!

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, August 24, 2010 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

“-wouldn’t surprise me if the CIA or NSA opened the
corridor for Bin Laden to escape Tora Bora to
facilitate the case for war—“.

Osama was not in Tora Bora, or even the area. He was
undergoing a second kidney transplant, in a famous
hospital in occupied Palestine. It was the 2nd
transplant, neither of which worked. He died in
Winter 2003/2004. Several former CIA folk will soon
reveal the details. Plus additional “insider” information,
similar to Chip Tatum´s chronicles.

The Tora Bora was all PR bullshit, created by CIA
types, while Osama bin Laden was dying. Thanks to
the US National Guard, non-pilot, who deserves to be
investigated for association with the Brownsville
cult-murders, 1984, including his “poppy,” and a few
of his associates, also. All of whom are now very
rich, and “aloof” from all accountability. (perhaps)

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By Ed, August 24, 2010 at 8:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Q. What do you get when you combine ignorant, cowardly Americans hysterical over 9-11 with a swaggering idiot leader from Texas surrounding himself with a greedy corrupt administration?

A. The invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It was the perfect U.S. Treasury swindle done in broad daylight. Haliburton and Blackwater were enriched and billions of dollars go unaccounted in Iraq (they were shipping that cash into Iraq by the pallet load). It wouldn’t surprise me if the CIA or NSA opened the corridor for Bin Laden to escape Tora Bora to facilitate the case for war in Iraq.

And the lily-white American public gets their desire for revenge satisfied. Iraqi, Saudi, Afghani ... what’s the difference?

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, August 24, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

The U.S. Army/military is departing Iraq ?
For the second time ?
Yet, is still there ?
Preparing to depart a third time ?
While mercenaries and US Gov employees
remain there ? (100,000 ?)
Is Barack Hussein Obama Barry Soweto still an
operative of the CIA ?
Or is he only taking orders from the higher-level,
NAZI/Zionist types that make the decisions ?  A
continuation of the good PR dishonesty game ?

“- - new government of Iraq should issue arrest
warrants through Interpol for Bush, Cheney, Rice,
Gonzales, et al, for war crimes.” 
Neat thought !!! 
However, Interpol seems to be an extension
of the MOSSAD/CIA/MI6, all in their back pocket ?

Also, it was reported last year that GHWBSr had
an agreement with “La Hague” that they would not
prosecute the Bush oligarchy for war crimes. 
So much for the La Hague puppetry.

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By Jim Yell, August 24, 2010 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We were not intended by the founding fathers to abdicate the power to make War without a clear idea of “does it need to be done?” “Is it really necessary?”

We watched as Bush/Cheney lied and bullied a half baked permission for action and then turned it into permission for all our destruction of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and to distroy a dictator that was empowered not just by the U.S.A, but by Republican administrations, as always claiming they knew best.

The Bush admistration should all be in court charged with treason, abuse of their offices and distruction of American Democracy, but then the Democratic Party members seem to be on the pay roll to the same corporations that control the Republican Party.

We have sowed the wind and we will reap the whirlwind and most of the country is ignorant of what is going wrong. Suppose they will notice when their children starve?4

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By richard, August 24, 2010 at 5:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You miss the point. Look at all the money that was mede. Vice-President Cheney alone saw his already cushy net worth increase multifold. No-bid contracts for the friends of the Administration were the order of the day. The Iraq war was an enormous success.It all depends on your point of view.

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By ofersince72, August 24, 2010 at 12:18 am Link to this comment

The Iraqi are already screwed,  now it’s our turn
to be screwed.


  A CounterPunch special….anneMcClintock

  Slow violence in the Gulf, and BP coverups

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By Hammond Eggs, August 23, 2010 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment

Imagine the comeuppance the United States will experience for committing the crimes of invading and occupying Iraq and Afganistan.

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By eir, August 23, 2010 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

The Republican Party is one head of the beast, and the Democratic Party is the other head.  Pull the blanket, and you will see one body with “Property of the Oligarchy” branded into it’s repulsive hide.  But, you’re not entitled to lift that cover.  Just look at the two heads, and be mesmerized by the small differences, and rejoice that you’ve got a “choice.”

I’ll vote for those opposing the interests of the beast.  Rare though they may be.

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By Geoffrey Shaw, August 23, 2010 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is sad what has happened to Iraq but I think it is
time for the Arab nations to start using their oil
wealth to take care of their own.  They have the
resources to rebuild and they need to get started so
these conditions don’t fester.  They don’t need to
replicate western society but they do need to find a
way to take care of their brothers and sisters.  I
can’t understand for the life of me why they tolerate
the decadence of Dubai while so many Islamic people are
living in poverty with no hope.  They can’t blame the
west forever.

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By purplewolf, August 23, 2010 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

Rollzone: Bush Sr. and Ronny were behind putting Saddam in power in the first place. And don’t forget that Bush Jr. build the worlds biggest embassy in Iraq, subinferior workmanship compliments of Dicko and Haliburton.

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By rollzone, August 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

hello. it is true we do not know what it is like in
Iraq today, any more than what we knew before Bush,Sr
invaded. was Hussein a big crook? was Hussein only
testing weaponry for us on his own people? was it about
stolen UN relief funds? was it about oil? was it
because we had built the fourth largest military in the
region, and we had to dismantle it? full disclosure
covers the past, as well as establishing parameters of
formulating new policy. why would we embrace a policy
today we should have implemented before human slaughter
became an option? what was all the slaughter about?

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By gerard, August 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Like this is news???
  Every war always has the same results.  Battle grounds virtual open-air charnal houses.  Destruction everywhere and no money or will to rebuild it. A sickness and death of the soul that requires years and years to de-awaken, whether victim or victor no matter.
  War will destroy us all if we don’ot destroy it. Now’s our chance.

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By the worm, August 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Wait ‘til you see Afghanistan ....

After we’ve brought “Democracy to Afghanistan”, we will be poorer, the
Afghanistan people will be poorer (and many will be dead). They will have
to rebuild their primitive economy and begin again from where they
were ten years ago.

America is truly blind and truly without a memory.

Greed without end,  Amen.

May God forgive us.

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By martin weiss, August 23, 2010 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

The new government of Iraq should issue arrest warrants through Interpol for Bush, Cheney, Rice, Gonzales, et al, for war crimes, violations of the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg agreements, and the US Code of Military Justice.

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By Shift, August 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

The idea was never to help the Iraqi’s; but instead, to enrich the economic elites.  The losers are the American and Iraqi Peoples.

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By Sodium-Na, August 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Iraq is occupied by Iran through American soldiers and Blackwater wars profiteers.

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By Malcontent, August 23, 2010 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment


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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, August 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

This is what America will look like unless we de-militarize and reassess our priorities in an ever shrinking world.

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By Steve E, August 23, 2010 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Democracy, you gotta love it. Mix it with religion and presto, you have debauchery
and a full blown fiasco, mission accomplished. The human race is the worst thing
to ever happen to this paradise planet. The sooner the human species dies out the
better the chance for the innocent animal kingdom to revive. Long live Mother

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, August 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

You might want to poll the Kurds and Shiites about that.

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