The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Six Years of Iraq War:
Catastrophe for Iraqis
– and Americans

Mar 9, 2009

March 19 marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S. war on Iraq, with no end in sight. President Barack Obama has said he’ll pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011. That’s almost three years from now – and even that’s not certain, considering how he has hedged this promise.

But even if it’s “only” three years from now, the U.S. war will severely worsen the catastrophe already inflicted on Iraq.

The war has killed 1.3 million Iraqis and displaced 4.5 million, or more than one in six people in the country. Last year, only five% of these refugees chose to return to their homes – one proof that Iraqi people find their country anything but safe these days!

Several political factions, and armed militias tied to them, continue to fight for power. For example, the Shiite-led Baghdad government, in alliance with remnants of the Sunni-led Saddam Hussein regime, is engaged in a bloody fight to drive out the Kurdish rulers of Mosul, the largest city in the oil-rich North. And that’s supposed to be in the “calmer” part of the country! In Baghdad, Shiite militias fight against Shiite militias.

The U.S. policy mostly has been to let these different warlords fight it out, backing up certain ones of them. The consequence – attacks on civilians and ethnic cleansing – means total disaster for the population. When U.S. officials say their aim is to establish a stable Iraqi regime, that means setting up a dictatorship that can control the population. In other words, a dictatorship like Saddam Hussein’s is the best the U.S. has to offer the Iraqi people!

American workers continue to pay a huge price for this war, waged by the U.S. ruling class to control Iraq and its resources. Even a Congressional committee admitted that war costs would total 1.6 trillion dollars by early 2009, reaching perhaps 3.5 trillion by the end of 2017. That’s 2017!

And then there is the human cost – or, rather, catastrophe – of war: 4,256 troop deaths acknowledged so far by the military; severe injuries estimated at over 100,000. Mental injuries increase these figures several times, adding up to an enormous human and social cost to be paid by several generations.

An earlier generation of soldiers faced a similar catastrophe in Viet Nam. Many of those soldiers expressed their opposition to the Viet Nam war openly, some in mutiny against their officers. Some soldiers have come forward to publicly oppose the Iraq war. Their opposition needs to be supported by a population that won’t let itself be misled by a new administration’s lies.