Commentary | Comment: Bloody Iraq is no success

Ricky Kreitner was hacking pretty hard at the Piñata Diplomacy when this tasty morsel came flying: “After all the uproar about Bush’s surge – the Iraq War is well on the way to being a success.”

As evidence, Kreitner cited the recent provincial elections in Iraq that took place with only “scattered episodes of violence” and “a handful of assassinations.”

So, don’t worry, democracy is on its way. You’re not against democracy, are you?

Then never mind international law, which the 2003 invasion violated. Forget the 650,000 civilians who died because of the war by 2006, according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet. Please ignore data from the British company ORB that put the civilian death toll at over one million in 2007. And don’t ask about the refugees.

After all, people power is coming to Baghdad. And all it took was the deployment of 30,000 extra U.S. troops, a strategy known euphemistically as “the surge.”

George W. Bush painted a rosy picture of this military operation in his State of the Union address last year: “Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al-Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.”

But these claims are dubious to Nir Rosen, an American journalist who has reported extensively from Iraq.

In an interview with Amy Goodman last year, Rosen said that a major reason for the decline in violence was the systematic “removal” of Shiites from Sunni areas, and vice versa.

“The violence is down,” Rosen said, “because you have less people to kill.” Warlords and militias have effectively secured control over the country’s “fiefdoms,” he added.

Another dissenting opinion comes from Robert Fisk, a veteran Middle East correspondent for The Independent of London, who addressed a packed auditorium at Concordia last month.

When he sat down with a group of student journalists before the talk, I asked for his thoughts about the troop escalation, and the cheerful discourse reappearing about the war.

“The ‘surge’ hasn’t worked,” Fisk said. “You build as many walls as we’ve built in Baghdad, and nobody can talk to anybody.”

Fisk was referring to the “security walls” that U.S. forces constructed to quell sectarian violence. Rosen reported last March that these barricades effectively “confine people to their own neighbourhoods” in Baghdad.

“There’s no more discourse between people in Iraq,” Fisk said. “Don’t worry about your discourse in North America.”

But reporters and commentators give us cause for concern when, like ventriloquists’ dolls, they speak uncritically for the Pentagon and the Oval Office.

Recall, for example, how reports in the eminent New York Times bolstered the Bush administration’s false claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction prior to the 2003 invasion.

I am not nostalgic about the days of Saddam Hussein’s regime. But Kreitner’s assertion that the Iraq war “is well on the way to being a success” is untenable at best.

In his column, Kreitner begged forgiveness from readers because he had committed the “error” of opposing the war. But fault does not belong to the millions of protesters who set the world record for the largest anti-war rallies in history. It belongs to the architects and advocates of this bloody debacle.

David G. Koch is a frequent news and audio contributor, and a U3 Political Science student. Send him your thoughts of mass discussion to david.koch@mail.mcgill.ca.


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