Remembering Iraq: The Occupation Ten Years On (includes photo essay)
By T.J. Coles. Axis of Logic
Axis of Logic
Monday, Mar 18, 2013
Editor's Note: This is the first of a mini-series written by Axis of Logic Columnist, T.J. Coles as we approach the 10th anniversary of the US/British invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. On October 17, 2011 the New York Times cleverly began calling the war on Iraq, "The Forgotten War." We are among those who are working to make certain that the invasion and destruction of Iraq and the western state murders of more than a million Iraqi people will not be forgotten - not now, not ever. T.J. Coles writes about Iraq today. We begin this series with quotes and photos from the invasion taken, 2003.
- Les Blough, Editor
"So far, the liberators have succeeded only in freeing the souls of the Iraqis from their bodies"
- George Monbiot, The
Guardian, April 1, 2003
"We had a great day. We killed a lot of people. We dropped a few civilians, but what do you do? I'm sorry...but the chick was in the way."
- U.S. Marine Sgt. Eric Schrumpf,
New York Times, March 29, 2003
"Some 15 vehicles including a minivan and a couple trucks blocked the road to the bridge in Nasiriya. The vehicles were riddled with bullet holes. Some had caught fire and turned into piles of black twisted metal. Others still burned. Mark Franchetti of The Times, counted 12 dead Iraqi civilians. The civilians had fled over the bridge and run into a group of shell-shocked young American marines. They fired. Corporal Ryan Dupre later expressed the satisfaction felt by some of his fellow marines. He said, 'The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy. I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him'."
- Mark Franchetti, "US Marines Turn Fire on Civilians
at the Bridge of Death," The Times, March 30, 2003
"At 33,000 feet, a F/A-18E, Super Hornet pilot hears only his own breathing -- a complete disconnect between the carnage he creates on the soil below and his senses. On April 2, 2003, one such flyer, helmet in hand, with the hose from his oxygen mask draped around his neck like a scarf, was asked by a fellow pilot on the USS Abraham Lincoln, "hey, how'd it go? You Drop?" The answer, "Kaboom!" He hears nothing when his bombs explode, rarely even sees the blast. He lives in the virtual reality of psychic insulation. The men mostly in their late 20s and early 30s don't talk about killing.
"Lt. Stan Wilson 33, a barber's son from Iowa, said 'we don't talk about it, don't worry about it. I don't know how this sounds, but we're more selfish than that. I worry about my car payments; the other guys worry about their girlfriends and wives.' Kaboom! The pilots rationalized their rain of bombs by hiding behind the piety of 'precision bombing', seeking consolation by repeating this is not Dresden or Tokyo. 'Since only 85 Iraqi civilians died on April 2nd (sic), yes, this is not Dresden or Tokyo. Lt. Stephen Doyle, 29, reflected, 'I have faith in the way we're doing things...I don't think that's deluding myself'."
Slain mother and child (L). Mother holding the body of her dead son (R)
Old woman trying to get into a food truck
Elderly Iraqi woman digging in garbage heap for food in Baghdad.
January, 2013 - Iraqis protesting the occupation and the US-installed regime.
Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf
George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Ariel Sharon
“With weapons of evil, they conspire against the place of light.”
- The Ginza
March 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Contrary to reports by the authorised Western media, the US has not withdrawn from the country. Permanent military bases, most notably camp al-Balad, have been erected;1 British and other mercenaries continue ground occupations in place of national armed personnel;2 and most of the country’s major oilfields have been 100% bought out by foreign (mostly Western) companies.3 Nearly a decade after Britain and America “brought democracy” to Iraq, UNICEF issued the following statement:
“Unremitting violence not only sets the backdrop of daily life in much of Iraq, it has also weakened governance and crippled the ability of the country to feed, protect and educate its citizenry … Political and economic turmoil has led to the great vulnerability of women and children, who are threatened by poverty, undernutrition, lack of safe water and sanitation, insufficient educational resources and the prospect of personal violence and abuse … Iraqis must contend with threats of drought, decimated infrastructure and a large population of refugees and internally displaced people.”4
A Gallup poll released in 2012 suggests that for Iraqis, “daily emotional wellbeing has deteriorated along with the recent drop in life ratings” (i.e. quality of life). The poll found that “The percentage of Iraqis experiencing stress has doubled from 34% in 2008 to 70% in September 2011, and the percentage experiencing anger has increased from 38% to 60%”. Seventy per cent said they felt “stress”, sixty per cent “anger”, forty-six per cent “sadness”.5
“Life expectancy at birth in 2010” under Anglo-American occupation “was 58 years, down from 65 years in 1980” under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.
“The chance of an adult dying before the age of 60 has increased almost 40% since 2000”, wrote the Pentagon-led Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The year 2000 being a peak year of Anglo-American sanctions that killed over a million. Iraq’s “maternal mortality rate—84 per 100,000 live births—is twice as high as Jordan’s”.6
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
It was understood by the invaders that the oil-rich country would not be allowed to develop its own resources its own way, but rather, that the Saddam Hussein regime would be replaced with a similar proxy.
“Iraqi security forces … could present a plausible façade of stability, at least in the short-term, and appear to guarantee the independence of the state from regional intervention”, wrote government advisor Charles Tripp (an Oxford academic) prior to the invasion. “The fact that it would look remarkably like one of the precursors to the regime which produced Saddam Husain [sic]—and would emerge out of similar circumstances—might only cause a momentary twinge of concern”.7
That “momentary twinge of concern” continues to be prolonged agony for Iraqis. The choice of “democratic candidates” offered by the occupation forces included: Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord, who had close MI6 ties; the London-based, CIA-funded Iraqi National Congress led by the West’s puppet and Bilderberg Group attendee, Ahmed Chalabi; and Parliamentary records show links between the UK and Kurdistan’s Jalal Talabani dating back to at least 1991, and Al-Dawa’s leader, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who became the Prime Minister in 2005. Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, explained the essence of democracy promotion in December 1998: to “marshal all of the opposition groups and get them to work in some concert”.8
Three months before the invasion in 2003, hundreds of opposition groups met in the Metropole Hotel, London. The meeting included “mullahs, along with some 350 assorted Kurdish leaders, intellectuals, and members of the Iraqi diaspora,” writes Patrick Cockburn.
“The driving force behind the conference was the so-called group of four”, namely the Iraqi National Union, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic of Iraq. Chalabi also attended, and contrary to media disinformation about fears that Iranian influence would spread in Iraq, the US and UK fostered collaboration with Iranian Ayatollah Sayid Majid al-Khoie, the son of the Grand Ayatollah al-Khoie who was murdered two years later."9
For years, there has been no discernable difference between Iraq’s Western-approved puppets and their previous collaborator, Saddam Hussein. Around 1,000 people are on death-row across Iraq, most of whom are journalists, activists, union leaders, etc. They are hanged after mock trials in kangaroo courts. The al-Maliki regime and its predecessors have a multitude of secret prisons. Practices by the Anglo-American-trained and armed Iraqi police in the open prisons are bad enough. Amnesty reports:
“Rape or the threat of rape. Beating with cables and hosepipes. Prolonged suspension by the limbs. Electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body. Breaking of limbs. Removal of toenails with pliers. Asphyxiation using a plastic bag[s] over the head. Piercing the body with drills. Being forced to sit on sharp objects such as broken bottles. These are just some of the torture methods used against men, women and children by [Anglo-American-trained] Iraqi security forces.10
“International investigators have repeatedly documented the persistence and widespread nature of torture in Iraq in recent years; little has changed in response to those reports”, Human Rights Watch documented a few years ago. Human Rights Watch’s “findings show that as of 2010, the practice [of torture] remains as entrenched as ever, failing even to draw a critical response when evidence is produced by the Iraqi government itself”.11
Blood & Oil
The need to establish a Saddam Hussein-esque regime in post-invasion Iraq was predicated upon the lust for Iraqi oil. The reasons for controlling Iraq’s oil are manifold: to manipulate global prices; to make a growing China and India dependent upon Anglo-American controlled prices; to prevent socialist, Chavez-style development; to control supply-and-demand to “developing” nations; to rely on more stable supplies for domestic use; and, most important of all, to prepare the region for its role as an oil spigot in the New World Order—the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative.
In 1997, the US Space Command’s “Vision for 2020” explained that the goal of world domination—Full Spectrum Dominance—is “to close the ever-widening gap between diminishing resources and increasing military commitments”.12 In his April 2002 term paper, US Army War College Lt. Col., William J. Bender, was more specific:
“Since the time the United States became the principle [sic] industrialized foreign power in the Persian Gulf, US vital interests in the region have not changed. A primary US interest has been to maintain access to the vast supplies of inexpensive and readily available oil from the Gulf, a critical commodity to the economies of all industrialized nations. A second, related interest has been to preserve regional stability by preventing the emergence of a regional power unfriendly to US interests.12
“[T]he role of Iraq’s oil income will be decisive. It constitutes the prize for those competing for power, under American protection or otherwise”, wrote UK government advisor Charles Tripp, prior to the invasion. “It also reinforces the centralising, authoritarian aspects of the economy”—meaning that the UK government intended to nurture a Saddam Hussein-type regime—“as well as the development of forms of patronage which grant to those disbursing the oil revenues enormous political power”.14
By 2010, the British Foreign Office spoke openly of a “bonanza of contracts for western companies”.15 As one can deduce from the above figures on declining life expectancy and general misery, Iraq’s one-in-three who have no access to safe water, 2 million internal and over 2 million external refugees, and 3 million or so war injured, do not get to share in their own resource-wealth.
British taxpayers continue to finance the “training” of Iraqi “security forces” and subsidise arms shipments to the country. The UK is turning Iraq into a hi-tech, militarised police-State. From 2008 to 2010 alone, the UK exported the following weapons (just a small sample), worth tens of millions of pounds sterling annually:
"…tanks, turrets, tank transporters, and tank destroyers, naval electronic warfare equipment, electronic warfare equipment, fragmentation rockets, large calibre artillery ammunition, anti-armour ammunition, anti-armour rockets, 2564 assault rifles, 215 “general purpose” machine guns, 668 semi-automatic pistols, 6 shotguns, weapon sights and mounts (including NIGHTVISION), thermal imaging equipment, incendiary hand grenades, stun grenades, illuminators, all-wheel drive vehicles with ballistic protection, military transport aircraft…"16
The weapons are used to murderous effect. At the refugee camp Ashraf, in Diyala governorate, Amnesty International reports,
“Following months of rising tension, Iraqi security forces forcibly entered and took control of the camp … Video footage taken as Iraqi security forces entered the camp showed them deliberately driving military vehicles into crowds of protesting residents. They used live ammunition, apparently killing at least nine refugees, and detained 36 others who they subsequently tortured”.17
Amnesty reported that “the new regulations” of Iraq’s Constitution “introduced on 25 June 2010 impede Iraqis from staging lawful protests”. It requires organisers to obtain the “written approval of both the Interior Minister and the provincial Governor” before they submit an application to their local police department, and “not less than 72 hours before a planned event”.18 Human Rights Watch reported:
“Iraq still remains one of the most hazardous places in the world to work as a journalist. Murders, assaults, and threats continue against writers for doing their jobs. Government officials, political party figures, and militias may all be responsible for the violence, intended to silence some and intimidate the rest.”19
All of the above is of great interest to the authorised, mainstream British media: which is why it is suppressed. Part of living in the “information age” is the illusion that the public is well-informed, with up-to-date news about David Bowie’s latest single release, how competently medallist Tom Daley dived from a board into a swimming pool, how many people are stranded on icy roads, and a myriad of other data designed to deflect attention from Britain’s State-crimes and equalise all news to the same level of (un)importance. This is “info dominance.”20
By keeping the public fixated on the “eternal present” of gossip, sports, and national news, the public’s sense of history, personal responsibility, and with it humanity, is diminished. As David Cameron’s favourite singer Morrissey 21 put it, writing about Northern Ireland, though it could just as well be about Iraq:
“We’re old news, all’s well
Say BBC Scum
One child shot, but so what?”
1. Joseph Stiglitz and Lind Bilmes, 2008, The Three-Trillion Dollar War, London: Penguin.
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