Iraqis Who Sweated Out Hussein are Leaving Under Bush

Sherwood Ross

It’s not easy to create a situation where life is better under a dictatorship than in a democracy, but George Bush has succeeded in achieving this by invading Iraq.

Between 42,000 and 100,000 (depending on your source) Iraqis been killed in the past three years, with scores more murdered every day. Hospitals are overflowing with the wounded. What’s more, an estimated 1-million Iraqis have fled their homes to find sanctuary in Jordan, Syria and Egypt. Life apparently is worse now than before the invasion, as Iraqis, particularly middle-class families, who survived Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, are departing in droves.

According to Washington reporter Bill Blum, author of “Rogue State,”(Common Courage Press) “thousands of Iraqis have lost an arm or a leg, frequently from unexploded U.S. cluster bombs” and the air has been fouled by depleted uranium from U.S. shells, infecting the water, soil, and human genes, producing malformed babies.

Your chances of ending up in jail also are better under Bush. Fifty thousand Iraqis have been imprisoned since the U.S. occupation yet “only a very tiny portion of them have been convicted of any crime,” Blum writes. Mr. Bush’s architectural legacy will be the vast prison complex being built to house the men; his legal legacy will be his practice of holding men without charges, lawyers, or trials.

Meanwhile, American-backed militias kill, kidnap and torture people at random. According to The New York Times (May 22), “the corruption in Basra had gotten so bad that the 135-member internal affairs unit, set up to police the police, was operating as a ring of extortionists, kidnappers and killers, American and Iraqi officials said.”

Not only do U.S. troops stand accused of atrocities against civilians such as the Marines’ rampage at Haditha last November 19th, but the Pentagon’s own study found its Special Operations interrogators in Iraq engaged in torture techniques.

Pentagon “outsourcing” of prisoner “care” also results in abuse. Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, complained some military contractors in Iraq “stand accused of engaging in or supporting human rights violations such as sexual abuse and torture” and have fired at civilians “with devastating consequences.”

Even Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki June 1 denounced the U.S. military for attacks on civilians that have become a “daily phenomenon”. Underscore the word daily.

To add to their misery, every second Iraqi worker is unemployed, prices have soared and annual median incomes have tumbled since the invasion from $255 in 2003 to about $144 in 2004. Better off under Mr. Bush?

Writing in the June 15, Christian Science Monitor, reporter Peter Grier cites critics who point out “basic services have yet to be restored three years after the US invasion. Oil and electricity production have yet to return to prewar levels.” In fact, Iraq’s oil exports have plummeted in recent months and motorists wait for hours to buy gas.  Some 60 percent of clean water produced in Iraq is lost to leakage and contamination, Grier found.

Joe Carr of the Christian Peacemakers Team in Baghdad, (cited by Noam Chomsky in his essay “War Crimes in Iraq,”) says the U.S. in Fallujah “has leveled entire neighborhoods, and about every third building is destroyed or damaged.”  Fierce, destructive firefights have raged in other cities as well.

Violence is so commonplace 20 percent of U.S. funds marked for reconstruction go instead to pay security guards. In a recent study, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote half of the $22-billion America earmarked to develop Iraq’s economy has been wasted.

Thousands of Iraqis are dying of their wounds, lack of hospital care, or sickness caused by malnutrition.  Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, accused Anglo-American forces of “breaching international law by depriving civilians of food and water in besieged cities as they try to flush out militants.” That’s a violation of the Geneva Conventions, by the way.

“Iraq has become the most dangerous place on earth,” claims reporter Blum. “Civil war, death squads, kidnapping, car bombs, rape, each and every day.”

Is Iraq better off under George Bush than Saddam Hussein? Only the people of Iraq are entitled to answer that question. Given the appalling decline in their living standards, the death toll, the bombings, killings, abductions, crime, torture, civil war, the homes and businesses destroyed, generalized suffering, and the feeling no one is safe on the streets or even in the mosques, Iraqis who sweated out the Hussein Regime are bailing out. They are voting with their feet. Evidently, President Bush has achieved the impossible. By comparison to his "democracy," Iraq was better off under a dictatorship.

Sherwood Ross is an American who writes on politics and military affairs. Contact him at

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