One thousand Iraqi Army soldiers refused to fight in and around Basra leading many to wonder why we continue to fight for them. If the Iraqis have no desire to stem the violence, no wish for a democratic state why are we dying for this on their behalf? Even worse, those who did fight also engaged in executions of captured Shiites.
In Washington, as the release of Justice Department memos illustrated the pattern of war crime behavior by America, the political spin is beginning in advance of General Petraeus' report to Congress on the progress of the war. This got intense last September as the spin and lies escalated to a ridiculous level. The decrease of violence in Iraq is primarily due to al Sadr's decisions and not much else. Meanwhile reports say he was ordered to cease the most recent violence on orders from Tehran. Those who still believe the myth that the surge has been effective need to comprehend who is really making policy and who is really in control of things in Iraq: Moqtada al Sadr.
Between the presidential election and our economic troubles it's easy to forget Iraq. The war continues however, the death and destruction know no abatement, both Americans and Iraqis continue dying and the corruption goes on with no accountability. Soldiers are being electrocuted in showers, companies continue making billions of dollars in profits providing services the Pentagon used to perform at no profit and no one is being prosecuted for war profiteering.
The idea of this series has been to remind us of Iraq and remember what is going on there and why. No one has yet explained to my satisfaction why we invaded the country. I think voters are owed an explanation when Petraeus reports to Congress. Is it not time the country received an honorable answer to this question?
Friday and Saturday saw 72 Iraqis killed and 65 wounded. Fighting between the Iraqi Army and the Mahdi Militia (Sadr's private army) is resulting in civilians killed, including some by U.S. air strikes. 21,000 Iraqis have been released from prison in some good news. Of course the bad news is how we have arrested thousands of Iraqis for no reason, rounded them up, sent them to Abu Ghraib and elsewhere with no due process, then tortured them. Then we wonder why they hate us and become
It might mitigate feelings if we actually were aiding the refugee situation. The chaos we brought to Iraq has caused about 20% of the population, primarily the professional and middle class, to flee. These refugees are mostly in Jordan and Syria. They fled the sectarian "cleansing" being carried out by militias bent on eliminating Sunnis from Baghdad. Now, as their visas and funds are running out they are returning to Iraq. We have contributed almost nothing in aid to these people and have refused to allow all but a trickle to emigrate here.
Health services inside Iraq are abysmal. Since so much of the professional class fled the country there are severe shortages of medical personnel. The lack of electricity and clean, potable water has caused epidemics. The constant violence, abated but not eliminated, result in more medical care needs. According to the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes:
"At least four million people do not have enough food while around 40 percent of the 27.5 million population do not have access to clean drinking water, and 30 percent do not have access to reasonable health services. Most of the increasing number of internally displaced people have little or no access to proper health care, food assistance, sanitation and other services, he said."
This entire Iraqi debacle has greatly increased Iranian influence and stature in the region and diminished ours. This is the complete opposite of what George W. Bush intended. Every time I see a bumper sticker on an American car saying "we cannot afford to lose" it reminds me why, since it was so important, President Bush made no attempt to win this war. Once he made the bad decision to invade it was imperative upon him to insure we were successful. Instead almost every decision made was designed to lose the war and the peace. Worse, no one has been held accountable for these failures. No one in Washington wants to play the blame game so no one has paid the price for the death and destruction, the trillions it will cost, or the loss of our position in the world community of nations.
You can change that in November.