“If the United States leaves Iraq things will really get bad.”
This appears to be the last remaining, barely-breathing argument of that vanishing species who still support the god-awful war. The argument implies a deeply-felt concern about the welfare and safety of the Iraqi people. What else could it mean? That the US military can’t leave because it’s needed to protect the oil bonanza awaiting American oil companies as soon as the Iraqi parliament approves the new written-in-Washington oil law? No, the Bush administration loves the people of Iraq. How much more destruction, killing and torturing do you need to be convinced of that? We can’t leave because of the violence. We can’t leave until we have assured that peace returns to our dear comrades in Iraq.
To better understand this argument, it helps to keep in mind the following about the daily horror that is life in Iraq: It did not exist before the US occupation.
The insurgency violence began as, and remains, a reaction to the occupation; like almost all insurgencies in occupied countries — from the American Revolution to the Vietcong — it’s a fight directed toward getting foreign forces to leave.
The next phase was the violence of Iraqis against other Iraqis who worked for or sought employment with anything associated with the occupation regime.
Then came retaliatory attacks for these attacks.
Followed by retaliatory attacks for the retaliatory attacks.
Jihadists from many countries have flocked to Iraq because they see the war against the American Satan occupiers as a holy war.
Before the occupation, many Sunnis and Shiites married each other; since the occupation they have been caught up in a spiral of hating and killing each other.
And for these acts there, of course, has to be retaliation.
The occupation’s abolishment of most jobs in the military and in Saddam Hussein’s government, and the chaos that is Iraqi society under the occupation, have left many destitute; kidnapings for ransom and other acts of criminal violence have become popular ways to make a living, or at least survive.
US-trained, financed, and armed Iraqi forces have killed large numbers of people designated as “terrorists” by someone official, or perhaps someone unofficial, or by someone unknown, or by chance.
The US military itself has been a main perpetrator of violence, killing individually and en masse, killing any number, any day, for any reason, anyone, any place, often in mindless retaliation against anyone nearby for an insurgent attack.
The US military and its coalition allies have also been the main target of violent attacks. A Department of Defense report of November 2006 stated: “Coalition forces remained the target of the majority of attacks (68%).”
And here is James Baker, establishment eminence, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, on CNN with Anderson Cooper:
Cooper: And is it possible that getting the U.S. troops out will actually lessen that violence, that it will at least take away the motivation of nationalist insurgents?
Baker: Many people have argued that to us. Many people in Iraq made that case.
Cooper: Do you buy it?
Baker: Yes, I think there is some validity to it, absolutely. Then we are no longer seen to be the occupiers.
In spite of all of the above we are told that the presence of the United States military has been and will continue to be a buffer against violence. Iraqis themselves do not believe this. A poll published in September found that Iraqis believe, by a margin of 78 to 21 percent, that the US military presence is “provoking more conflict that it is preventing”.
Remember that we were warned a thousand times of a communist bloodbath in Vietnam if American forces left. The American forces left. There was never any kind of bloodbath.
If the United States leaves — meaning all its troops and bases — it will remove the very foundation, origin, and inspiration of most of the hate and violence. Iraqis will have a chance to reclaim their land and their life. They have a right to be given that opportunity. Let America’s deadly “love” embrace of the Iraqi people come to an end. Let the healing begin.
WILLIAM BLUM is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.
He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com