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[casi] Iraq: the next Afghanistan

This is a tirade against the Australian Government however:

Are these figures actually being suggested by some NGO's: "50,000
Iraqi troops and 10,000 civilians have been killed, with at least a
further 40,000 injured". It does seem a lot for such a short
conflict. CNN have now stopped adding to the bottom of their articles
the ridiculously low figures - I can't say that that's because I
wrote and complained to them!

What is the current state of drinking water in Iraq?

To what extent are hospitals still short of basic drugs and

Of even more concern is that our 'fully accountable democratic
governments' who are now controlling Iraq won't tell us.

05.12.2003 [17:05]

As George W. Bush sinks slowly in the West, let’s look at what he’s
achieved at other points of the compass. Afghanistan? The US-
appointed president, previously an associate of the Bush family in
the oil industry, needs a Praetorian guard of Americans to keep him
safe in Kabul.

Elsewhere in the country, the warlords are back in business, the
opium poppies are blooming, heroin sales are booming and the country
is returning to the same level of corruption and dysfunction that
brought about the rise of the Taliban in the first place. Little
wonder they’re regrouping in the south and south-east, preparing for
another tilt at power. And don’t be too surprised if many in
Afghanistan, embittered by America’s hit-and-run policy in regard to
their long-suffering country, welcome them back. Meanwhile, bin Laden
remains safe and well.

Iraq? The war-damaged sewerage system still oozes muck into the
drinking water, adding to the growing crisis in public health. The
looted hospitals remain desperate for the most basic drugs and
medical equipment. The oil pipeline, intended to provide cashflow to
rebuild the country, has been set ablaze time and time again. While
Washington has foisted on the Iraqis a wide-ranging program of
privatisations (allowing 100 per cent ownership by foreigners who are
free to repatriate 100 per cent of the profits), there’s no great
rush to claim these spoils of war.

Not with security deteriorating - with the UN, the Red Cross, Care
Australia, local religious leaders, members of the governing Council
as well as American and Italian troops being targeted.

The escalating attacks come from anyone - Saddam loyalists, Islamic
factions, al-Qa’ida blow-ins and other militant groups crossing the
borders. Anyone and everyone with a grudge against the US is
operating in Iraq. And Bush’s response? Increasingly desperate
manoeuvrings to bring some of his demoralised troops back home to
make things look better for his re-election campaign. The US never
released casualty figures after Gulf War I.

The death toll, this time round, is again being censored and talked
down. (Incidentally, US networks are no longer permitted to film
returning coffins.) However, respected NGOs in Europe and Britain
insist that 50,000 Iraqi troops and 10,000 civilians have been
killed, with at least a further 40,000 injured.

Lucky Australia - thus far, not one fatality. But we’ve been party to
a slaughter of the innocents that should make every one of us feel
deeply ashamed. Oh, and like bin Laden, Saddam Hussein is still alive
and kicking.

As for Iraq’s alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, we
have witnessed the biggest failure in intelligence in modern history;
or been misled with the biggest lies foisted on Western democracy. Or
both. It’s now clear that only one man was honest about WMDs in the
run-up to the war.

Not Bush. Not Blair. Not Howard. It was, of course, Saddam Hussein,
who denied having them. You’ll recall that he was backed up by many
among the weapons inspectorate, by those familiar with the
devastation in Gulf War I and by observers of the powerful effects of
ongoing sanctions. We now learn that there were desperate back-door
attempts by Baghdad to prevent the conflict. To cut deals on almost
anything and everything Washington wanted. But what Washington wanted
most of all was a war. The war in Iraq was guaranteed to lead to
political miracles throughout the Middle East. Having been welcomed
by cheering crowds, the Coalition of the Willing would inspire peace,
freedom and democracy everywhere from Syria to Iran. At least the
mess in Iraq has discredited the neo-Cons’ neo-imperial fantasies.

Meanwhile, countless new terrorists have been recruited. Saudi
Arabia, the principal provider of volunteers and finance for
September 11, is now a target of terrorism itself - as is Turkey. And
the promised outbreak of peace between Israel and the Palestinians
has failed to materialise. The “road map” is in ruins, and Sharon and
Arafat, the Tweedles Dum and Dee of that endless crisis, are
consolidated in power.

Iran? It’d be a stretch to say it’s behaving itself because of the
war in Iraq. In fact, the Iranian people have been involved in a
process of reform that owes nothing to the US and everything to the
courage of its own people.

The Bush administration - condemned by almost the entire membership
of the UN and supported only by Blair and, God help us, Howard - has
been revealed as dangerously delusional. The world is in no way a
safer place and Australia no way a safer nation.

Howard’s job is to protect Australians from terrorism. Instead, he’s
got us far, far higher on the terrorist hit list. Instead of
protecting Australians in Bali, instead of arresting Willie Brigitte
as he plotted to blow up a nuclear facility in a Sydney suburb,
Howard had us charging off to the other side of the world for a war
that was none of our business. At the same time, he was wasting
immense military resources rounding up a few desperate refugees
fleeing countries like, yes, Iraq and Afghanistan. Madness. All
Howard’s posturing at war memorials cannot deflect from the simple
fact that he’s put Australia, quite unnecessarily, at greater risk.

Though shouted down at the time by the Conservative chorus, this
column predicted much of what would happen in Iraq - as did the
writings of the like-minded. As did the millions who marched against
the war. Yet Howard still talks as though the Coalition of the
Willing has been entirely successful. If this is success, try to
imagine failure.

The Australian, Australia

Mark Parkinson

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