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  • Published in Opinion

Generals, politicians and broadcasters appear to be forgetting what a human, social and political catastrophe war in Iraq has created. Joe Glenton reminds them.

US leaves

Someone’s been murdered! Who? Two million Iraqis since 1991! Somebody call the authorities. Oh wait, the authorities killed them?

You hear those guns boom? Listen to those IEDs function? Hear those Kalashnikovs chatter over Baghdad? That’s the sound of freedom. That’s the sound of a better, cleaner Iraq… and look, we’re all home by Christmas. Eight Christmases later.

Leon Panetta didn't mention the Iraqi dead in the leaving speech and little was made of 4500 dead Americans, or over 30,000 wounded, or those driven mad by war.

No mention of the British deaths either. Why would there be? The Brits don’t complain; they just tag along.

More British soldiers who served in the Falklands war have killed themselves than died in it. The military’s pathetic response to mental trauma does not bode well for veterans of Iraq. And do you know how many tens upon tens of thousands served in Iraq?

There is a generation - mostly young men - who will never, ever get the sand out of their eyes. They will come home and one day some of them will kill friends, themselves, their partners, their children because they can’t shake off what they saw or did.

When they close their eyes, or get drunk, or get angry at their wives or miss their medication it comes to the fore of their consciousness: dust, fear, anger, gunshots into brown bodies. That’s the legacy of Iraq and they have the audacity to tell us it’s over.

America’s latest final withdrawal leaves only 4,000 troops in the country, an army of spooks and mercenaries helping prop up foreign control of oil and a despotic government whose savaging of protestors has been carefully stashed in the back of newspapers.

In the Guardian’s clever map of where people died – each violent ending marked with a red spot - cities look like leprous sores, so stacked are these little red marks. What other colour could they be? Zoom out and it looks like Iraq is drenched by arterial spray.

These deaths derive from war - directly or indirectly. Those dots would be people if the invasion hadn’t happened.

Even the ones killed by insurgents can be traced back to the invasion. Iraq had a lot of problems - Saddam high among them - but do you recall an insurgency pre-intervention? The insurgency came about because the US stripped Iraq of anything like a civil society, dissolved the army and tinkered dumbly amid the religious divides.

Each death belongs to Bush and Blair and the agenda they espoused; as much as if they had pulled the trigger, dialled the airstrike or dug the IEDs into the roadside themselves. And the vacuum they created allowed others to do the rest. Flip excuses like ‘its war, people die in wars’ fall flat. Don’t give me that guff about Iraq; it was always going to be a disaster.

Be it insurgents, water-borne disease, irradiation, sanitary conditions, trigger-happy foreign mercenaries; all of the deaths are in one sense ours. Some people applauded, ape-like (Hitchens among them), some stood dumbfounded and other people acted to prevent them.

We know exactly what these invasions do. And now they squeal and jab their chubby fingers at Iran.

Tagged under: Middle East
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