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Even Lost Wars Make Corporations Rich
Posted on Jan 10, 2011
By Chris Hedges
“When Obama was elected in 2008 the majority of the country had turned against the Iraq War,” he said. “You could not be a Democrat running for office without giving lip service to being against the Iraq War. The reason people were against the war is because there was a constant, senseless death of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. It was a squandering of our resources. This has not changed, despite the rebranding of the occupation. U.S. soldiers are still being killed, wounded and psychologically traumatized, especially those on their third, fourth and fifth deployment who were traumatized in previous deployments and are being re-traumatized. There were two U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq a few days ago. The reasons that led people to oppose the war in 2003 are still in effect. All that has changed is that the U.S. has been able to recruit enough Iraqis to put in the forefront and take the brunt of the combat operations with U.S. soldiers a few steps behind. U.S. soldiers are still involved in combat. One of our members [of March Forward!], who joined our group about a month ago, is in Iraq now. He told me yesterday that he was hit harder than he has ever been hit on his nine months of deployment. Combat is still a reality. People are still being killed and maimed.”
“The war is still going on,” he lamented. “It is still bad for U.S. soldiers, and Iraq is completely destroyed. It is a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. To call this current operation ‘New Dawn,’ like this is a new day for the Iraqi people, ignores the fact that Iraqis have no electricity, live with constant violence, have no functioning government, have occupying forces still in their country and suffer rampant birth defects from the depleted uranium and other things. Iraq’s ‘New Dawn’ is a horror. It will remain that way until Iraq is given justice, which is a complete and immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces and heavy reparations paid to that country.”
Iraq, despite the brutality of Saddam Hussein, was a prosperous country with a highly educated middle class before the war. Its infrastructure was modern and efficient. Iraqis enjoyed a high standard of living. The country did not lack modern conveniences. Things worked. And being in Iraq, as I often was when I covered the Middle East for The New York Times, while unnerving because of state repression, was never a hardship. Since our occupation the country has tumbled into dysfunction. Factories, hospitals, power plants, phone service, sewage systems and electrical grids do not work. Iraqis, if they are lucky, get three hours of electricity a day. Try this in 110-degree heat. Poverty is endemic. More than a million Iraqi civilians have been killed. Nearly 5 million have been displaced from their homes or are refugees. The Mercer Quality of Living survey last year ranked Baghdad last among cities—the least livable on the planet. Iraq, which once controlled its own oil, has been forced to turn its oil concessions over to foreign corporations. That is what we have bequeathed to Iraq—violence, misery and theft.
It is not as if the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have popular support. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows that 63 percent of the American public opposes U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. And the level of discontent over the war in Iraq is even higher. Yet we continue to accept the duplicity of bankrupt liberal institutions and a corrupt political process that year after year betrays us. Public opinion is on our side. We should mobilize it to fight back. When I and the other protesters were arrested outside the White House on Dec. 16, several of the police officers who had been deployed as military members to Afghanistan or Iraq muttered to veterans as they handcuffed them that they were right about the wars. The anti-war sentiment is widespread, and we must find the courage to make it heard.
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“We supposedly elected the most progressive president we have seen in a long time and the Democrats took control of the House and the Senate, but the wars have only expanded and intensified,” Prysner said. “The wars are now going into other countries, especially Pakistan and Yemen. The Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority in Congress. We had a seemingly progressive president. But all we got was more war, more military spending, more bombing of innocent people abroad and more U.S. troops coming home in coffins. This should eradicate and shatter the idea that convincing the Democrats to be on our side will accomplish anything. Left to its own devices Washington will continue its war drive. It will continue to dominate these countries and use them for staging grounds to invade other countries. There has been no real change in our foreign policy. If we are hurting the Democrats at this point, then fine. We need to build an independent political movement that is outside of the Establishment. This is the only way we have ever won real victories in our history.”
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”
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