The Disastrous Iraq War Is Over (Officially)

This is what “remarkable progress” in Iraq actually looks like, as the war officially ends, per David Dayen, who gets the information from Juan Cole, who in turn has documented support for all these statistics:

Population of Iraq: 30 million.
Number of Iraqis killed in attacks in November 2011: 187
Average monthly civilian deaths in Afghanistan War, first half of 2011: 243
Percentage of Iraqis who lived in slum conditions in 2000: 17
Percentage of Iraqis who live in slum conditions in 2011: 50
Number of the 30 million Iraqis living below the poverty line: 7 million.
Number of Iraqis who died of violence 2003-2011: 150,000 to 400,000.
Orphans in Iraq: 4.5 million.
Orphans living in the streets: 600,000.
Number of women, mainly widows, who are primary breadwinners in family: 2 million.
Iraqi refugees displaced by the American war to Syria: 1 million
Internally displaced persons in Iraq: 1.3 million
Proportion of displaced persons who have returned home since 2008: 1/8
Rank of Iraq on Corruption Index among 182 countries: 175

This is the reality of Iraq in 2011. It’s a dangerous place in a low-level state of internal war, a desperately impoverished place where basic services still do not regularly get to those in need. It’s a place where society has been shattered and millions of lives upturned. It’s a tragedy by any metric. And most important, none of these consequences were truly necessary.

“Officially over,” of course, is something different from “really over.” Marcy Wheeler explains how, as long as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was used to justify invading Iraq, is still in force, the war is not over — neither the one against Iraq nor the one the Obama administration is conducting against all Americans:

The fact that the Iraq AUMF remains on the books matters. It matters because no matter how many times we wax eloquent about Iraqis controlling their own destiny, Nuri al-Maliki knows that little prevents Obama from bringing in troops again–or dropping drones in his country. Maybe that’s why Maliki is doing unfathomable things like laying a wreath at the military cemetery of the country that has occupied and ravaged his country for 8 years.

And, as I keep noting, the Iraq AUMF serves another purpose. That AUMF’s general language on “terrorism” has been used to authorize the use of “war powers” against people the Executive Branch claims are terrorists who have nothing to do with al Qaeda. The Iraq AUMF has been interpreted by the Executive Branch to authorize a war against all so-called terrorists, not just the terrorists who hit us on 9/11. And based on that argument, it was used to authorize the wiretapping of American citizens in the US.

Finally, Barbara O’Brien has some thoughts on Thomas Friedman’s recent column about Jewish Americans’ complicated feelings about, and relationship to, Israel, and the right’s reaction to what Friedman has to say.

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Filed under Breaking News, Foreign Policy, International, Politics, Religion, War

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