Iraq: Backward, Forward, And Beyond
- Pandora's Box Opened in Iraq:
Looking Backward, Forward, And Beyond
By Daniel Jordan and Neil Wollman
Al-Jazeerah, February 20, 2006
"She opened it and out flew all the terrible things like greed and
envy, hatred and cruelty, poverty and hunger, sickness and despair,
and more . . ."
The fable of Pandora's Box applies well to Iraq. War supporters wish
us to judge the invasion and war on the removal of the brutal Saddam
Hussein. A broad up-to-date analysis yields a disturbingly more
negative assessment, with implications reaching far into the future.
Are the Iraqi people better off today? No. A 2004 Lancet study based
on U.S. approved research methods puts the war's Iraqi death toll at
100,000. However, Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Les Roberts, who led
the study, said that the results were based on "conservative
assumptions." Deaths increased 1.5 times since the invasion, mostly
among women and children, and caused by diverse factors, like U.S. air
strikes and military interventions, devastated water and health care
systems, and militia or death squad activities. International news
sources cite studies pointing "to about 250,000 excess deaths since
the outbreak of the U.S.-led war" when deaths in Falluja are included.
Surviving Iraqis confront multiplying tragedies: Poverty rose to 20%;
A year-old UN report shows childhood malnutrition doubled; Minority
Rights Group International cites Iraq as the country where minority
rights are most under threat; the brain-drain of professionals leaving
Iraq takes away its future; a rampant "kidnap-and-ransom" industry
complicates security; inflation is skyrocketing; the U.S. backed Iraqi
constitution privatizes State industries, expatriating profits into
Western pockets; and the budget for the highly touted U.S. Iraqi
reconstruction has dried up. Iraq is a deadly mess.
Even if Iraq overcomes internal maladies, effects reaching beyond its
borders make this war a disaster for the world and the U.S.
Is the world (including the U.S.) safer? No. Ethnic cleansing in Iraq
is pushing the country closer to civil war, risking chaos in the
region. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (London)
stated "al-Qaeda's recruitment and fundraising was greatly boosted by
the U.S. invasion of Iraq." Militants expanded their influence across
the region, be it the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the growing
militant threat on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan (New York
Times), increased al-Qaeda influence in Afghanistan (noted by its
Defense Minister), the recent success by Hamas in Palestine, and the
hard-liners in Iran (now also influencing Iraq).
Iraq is now a breeding ground for terrorism. An embarrassed State
Department discontinued its annual terrorism report because
international terrorist attacks are at the highest level since the
first report in 1984. The U.S. sponsored National Memorial Institute
for the Prevention of Terrorism counted 3,991 global terrorist attacks
in 2005, up 51% from 2,639 in 2004. Ironically, a war intended to
produce freedom has, according to Amnesty International, lead to an
increase in worldwide human rights violations. Tyrants can
legitimately argue that since the U.S. waged pre-emptive war, so can
they. In 2003, North Korea stated "preemptive attacks are not the
exclusive right of the U.S."
U.S. foreign policy has also suffered, with our reputation at an all
time low. We found no WMDs. We just heard from a former CIA chief for
the Middle East that the Administration "cherry- picked" pre-war
intelligence. Britain's Downing Street memo stated that U.S.
"intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of
invasion. Western Alliances are in tatters, while our self-declared
"New American Century" has us creating a world empire, with Iraq being
the first step.
John McCain understands that torturing Iraqi prisoners puts our
soldiers (and even vacationing citizens) at greater risk. Besides the
hazards of combat, American military members are also at risk from
health impacts caused by depleted uranium (a UN declared WMD) and
mental health disorders (with 100,000 such diagnoses).
Domestically, the war has polarized the American public. Privacy and
democracy have also suffered In this so-called "War on Terror," which
the Administration irrelevantly centers In Iraq. President Bush's view
of executive privilege makes Nixon's "Imperial Presidency" and
COINTELPRO attacks on privacy and democracy appear quaint. Language
has devolved into Orwellian lunacy with war opponents labeled traitors
and the President and media calling spying on American citizens a
"terrorist surveillance program." Apparently everyone who questions
authority is a terrorist.
War expenses are diverting vast resources to corporate profits under
"starve the beast" economic policies that harm the needy among us.
Research by Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes puts
the eventual costs of the war at around two trillion dollars. About
$6,800 for every U.S. citizen is going to corporations like
Halliburton, whose stock and profits have doubled since the war began.
This Pandora's Box has spread destruction around the world, and the
blowback will hit the U.S. We must demand our government close this
box and never open it again. We must call our government, and
ourselves, to account and understand that just as empires rise, they
also fall, brought down by their own hubris. It is time to admit
mistakes and ask the world to work with us to rectify them.
Daniel Jordan, PhD; Instructor, Ventura College and research
consultant. 805-985-2852, drdanj @ adelphia.net .
Neil Wollman; Ph. D.; Senior Fellow, Peace Studies Institute;
Professor of Psychology; Manchester College, North Manchester, IN
46962; njwollman @ manchester.edu ; 260-982-5346;
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