By Professor Juan Cole, December 14, 2011
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Washington this week, in something of a commemoration of the withdrawal of all US troops from his country. As the American War on Iraq draws to a close, the Neoconservatives have been trying one last time to depict one of the modern world’s great catastrophes, the Bush Administration invasion and occupation of Iraq, as a shining success story.
They even allege that the Arab uprisings of 2011 were inspired by Iraq (though they seem at the same time to go back and forth about whether the uprisings are even a good thing). In fact, virtually no one in the Arab world wants their country to look like Iraq.
Because the US media focuses on personalities instead of on social realities, they find it easy to go on interviewing Dick Cheney (who should be in jail), rather than reporting on what exactly Iraq looks like. If we examine some basic social statistics, the reasons for which American Iraq is not considered a model by other Arabs becomes blindingly obvious. For one thing, Iraq still suffers from a steady drumbeat of violence, with regular bombings and other attacks. Indeed, the monthly death toll in political and guerrilla violence for Iraqis is broadly similar to that in Afghanistan, an active war zone!
Moreover, the American public still for the most part has no idea what the United States did to that country, and until we Americans take responsibility for the harm we do others with our perpetual wars, we can never recover from our war sickness, which drives us to resort to violence in international affairs in a way no other democracy routinely does.
Population of Iraq: 30 million.
Number of Iraqis killed in attacks in November 2011: 187
Average monthly civilian deaths in Afghanistan War, first half of 2011: 243
Percentage of Iraqis who lived in slum conditions in 2000: 17
Percentage of Iraqis who live in slum conditions in 2011: 50
Number of the 30 million Iraqis living below the poverty line: 7 million.
Number of Iraqis who died of violence 2003-2011: 150,000 to 400,000.
Orphans in Iraq: 4.5 million.
Orphans living in the streets: 600,000.
Number of women, mainly widows, who are primary breadwinners in family: 2 million.
Iraqi refugees displaced by the American war to Syria: 1 million
Internally displaced [pdf] persons in Iraq: 1.3 million
Proportion of displaced persons who have returned home since 2008: 1/8
Rank of Iraq on Corruption Index among 182 countries: 175