By Robert Silvey
Everyone’s looking for someone to blame for Iraq. Republican warmakers are especially desperate: their latest scapegoat is those bad Iraqis and the incompetent government they foolishly chose after George Bush granted them the wonders of democracy. Ungrateful wretches! We may have to give up on them!
The Iraqi government is a huge disappointment.â€¦
So far, they’ve not been able to do anything they promised on the political side. The oil revenue bill, not passed. Local elections, not passed. The de-Baathification effort, not passed. It’s a growing frustration.
Republicans overwhelmingly feel disappointed about the Iraqi government.â€¦
I don’t know what their problem is but this country has made an enormous investment in giving the Iraqis a chance to have a normal government after all of these years of Saddam Hussein and his atrocities.
McConnell certainly wouldn’t want to point a finger at anyone who started the war or failed to provide security or tortured innocent victims or killed noncombatants. American atrocities? Does not compute. Cognitive dissonance. Oxymoron. So McConnell is paving the way for guiltless departure: “I want to assure you, if they vote to ask us to leave, we’ll be glad to comply with their request.” Bad, bad Iraqis.
The people of Iraq did not choose to be ruled by Saddam Hussein, and most of them were certainly happy when he was defeated. After that, not so much. Those fingers of blame should be pointing directly at the American leaders who ignited civil war and created chaos:
- 800,000 Iraqis killed. The Lancet cluster sample surveyâ€”published last year by researchers from Johns Hopkins and Baghdad’s Al Mustansiriya Universityâ€”estimated that about 655,000 Iraqis died as a result of the war from March 2003 to July 2006, an average of 533 per day. At the same rate of excess mortality (an optimistic assumption), the toll is now probably over 800,000.
- One in eight Iraqi children killed. The child mortality rate in Iraq has increased by 150 percent since 1990, as a result of two wars, intervening sanctions, and the occupation. Save the Children reports: “Some 122,000 Iraqi children died in 2005 before reaching their fifth birthday. More than half of these deaths were among newborn babies in the first month of life.” Tony Blair actually justified the invasion on the basis of child deaths caused by sanctions. The statistics are now even worse.
- Two million refugees and 1.7 million internally displaced persons. The total population of Iraq is about 27 million; 7.4 percent have fled the country, and 6.3 percent have had to move within Iraq. Equivalent disruption in the United States would affect 40 million Americans. The middle class is especially affected: about 40 percent have left Iraq. The US has admitted a grand total of 68 Iraqi refugees in the last seven months.
Republicans like McConnell are so averse to accepting responsibility for these atrocities that they have begun to blame the victims. Burn down someone’s house, take away his job, kill his first-born, and then accuse him of insufficient alacrity in creating a new life. That’s the Republican bootstrap way.
Unfortunately, I hear hints of such displaced guilt in the statements of some Democrats too. There is no need for such moral calisthenics. It’s time for all Americans to accept our share of the blame, pledge billions for real reconstruction, and leave Iraq. Now.
[Cross-posted at Rubicon]