Sunday, October 23, 2011

Troops to Exit Iraq, Pricey Contractors to Replace Them

photo from "Violations Of Iraqi Children Rights Under The American Occupation" by Souad Al Azzawi

Why Bring Our War $$ Home has seemed to me a more compelling demand than bring the troops home: it's not that I don't want the troops home with their families, healing, finding employment (good luck with that), and getting on with life. A lot of kids will look forward this winter to getting their parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters home for the holidays. A lot of National Guard soldiers who joined up with no intention of invading and occupying a foreign country will finally get to come home. Yay!

But what is the withdrawal of military personnel and their replacement by State Dept. private security contractors actually going to cost, we, the taxpayers -- will bringing the troops home bring the war $$ home, too?

From "The Iraq War Ain’t Over, No Matter What Obama Says" by Spencer Ackerman in Wired:

So far, there are three big security firms with lucrative contracts to protect U.S. diplomats. Triple Canopy, a longtime State guard company, has a contract worth up to $1.53 billion to keep diplos safe as they travel throughout Iraq. Global Strategies Group will guard the consulate at Basra for up to $401 million. SOC Incorporated will protect the mega-embassy in Baghdad for up to $974 million. State has yet to award contracts to guard consulates in multiethnic flashpoint cities Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as the outpost in placid Irbil.
And if we were to fix all that we broke in Iraq, the price tag would be enormous!

Infrastructure that was once in place to provide clean water, sewage disposal, electricity would need to be rebuilt. The National Museum in Baghdad would need to get back the unique artiifacts of earliest civilization in Mesopotamia that were looted under our watch.
How could we even go about making reparations for all the people and lives we destroyed?

Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis "Only ‘Success’ in Iraq is that US Troops are Leaving" at
The US invasion of Iraq itself resulted in the violent deaths of no less than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, according to the most conservative estimate. A 2006 study by the British medical journal Lancet found that up to that point there had been more than 650,000 “excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war,” factoring in the lack of medical supplies and the civil war the invasion set off. Polling firm Opinion Research Business estimated in 2008 “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens” died as a result of the conflict.

More than 4.7 million Iraqis were forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, with 2 million forced to leave the country entirely. Many Iraqi women, three million of whom are now widows according to their government, were forced into lives of prostitution, with one refugee telling the New York Times that if “they go back to Iraq they’ll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available.”

More than 4,400 US soldiers also needlessly died in a war based on lies, from bogus tales of Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda to claims about non-existent weapons of mass destruction that were easily debunkable at the time – had anyone in a position of power been interested in doing so.
How about we bring the war $$ home and use some of them to fund prosecuting the war criminals?

I am oddly comforted today by my belief that the people surging in to Occupy Wall St, Chicago, the Los Angeles Unified School District, Augusta, Maine and elsewhere will not for a moment be fooled into believing that the Iraq troop withdrawal solves any of the problems that concern them.

Corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater grew wealthy on contract work in Iraq. They rewarded their fat cats, and taxpayers footed the bill. Problem not solved.

See you at the occupation.

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