April 04, 2006

Get Out Before You Kill Them All

Further to that post about Michael Schwarz's article in TomDispatch, this today from Informed Comment:
The UN oil for food program has continued to provide staples to most Iraqi families, but will be phased out by the end of 2006 as a "socialist" legacy. Despite the talk of staples "stabilizing," the price of foodstuffs has skyrocketed. Nor is a share for Iraqis in some of their oil wealth socialism. The Alaskans get a direct dividend from their petroleum, and the food aid was the closest thing the Iraqi public had to that. If the end of the program produces, as is likely, hardship and even hunger, there will be big urban disturbances. I lived through one such in Cairo in January of 1977. The gloaming was polluted with the bottles and stones thrown at government buildings by angry crowds chanting against the International Monetary Fund. That will be the final indignity, if the Americans actually manage to starve Iraqis to death with their policies.
Cole also links today to Peter N. Kirstein's argument for immediate withdrawal from Iraq:
The Iraq war, with its torture and killings of defenseless detainees, has disgraced the reputation of the U.S. and created an intense global anti-Americanism that is unprecedented. The U.N. Convention Against Torture condemns, “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The Uniform Code of Military Justice makes “maltreatment” of prisoners a crime. The War Crimes Act of 1986 prohibits any American from inflicting torture, death or inhuman treatment upon a prisoner. The Geneva Conventions also have the force of law in the United States and have been violated. Torture of non-resistant detainees is the reality of Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and Camp Nama . The images of beatings, of humans tied to dog leashes, of smiling American soldiers inflicting pain and suffering on nude prisoners piled on pyramids and chained to ceilings and cell doors, has erased the image of imperial benevolence and revealed a hypocritical nation that emulated the same tactics that Saddam used against his own people.

Iraq is worse off than under Saddam. The country is in chaos, civil war between Shi’a and Sunni is beyond the point of reconciliation; the Kurds in the north will never accept a unified Iraq unless given de facto independence with its Pesh Merga militia. The Sunni, in the oil barren center, will resist a Shi’a government that is allied with Iran. There is no unitary government but only a periphery with armed sectarian militias such as the 1,000-strong Mahdi Army.

Fewer Iraqis, than before the invasion, have safe drinking water and have electricity about four hours a day. Iraq oil exports have plummeted due to sabotage and war, and citizens wait up to two days to get gasoline. The United States did not calculate the war’s impact on the civilian population—other than Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion that Americans would be greeted as liberators

So where do we go from here? Toward an immediate disengagement with no more American deaths, no more American wounded, no more Americans kidnapped, no more colonization of Iraq, and no more unconscionable wasting of our nation’s resources with $350 billion already spent on this crusade...

The architects of preemptive war insist withdrawal must be deferred until the insurgency has been defeated by Iraqi military and police forces. This fantasy presupposes nation building can be effective. In Vietnam, a U.S. trained and equipped million-person Army of the Republic of Vietnam could not defeat the Vietcong or North Vietnamese. America cannot create an Iraqi army, that would predominately recruit Shi’a and Kurds, to prevail in a remorseless sectarian-communal war. Like the Diem, Ky and Thieu governments in South Vietnam, no Iraqi government has legitimacy to govern, much less defeat an insurgency, while under foreign occupation. Iraq must resolve its own affairs. Yes we should provide assistance for infrastructure repair, education, health care and third-country debt forgiveness but remove its soldiers, avoid permanent military bases and terminate counterinsurgency warfare.


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