Iraq Has Two Virginia Techs Every Day
By Juan Cole04/17/07 "ICH"
-- -- I keep hearing from US politicians and the US mass
media that the "situation is improving" in Iraq. The profound
sorrow and alarm produced in the American public by the horrific
shootings at Virginia Tech should give us a baseline for what
the Iraqis are actually living through. They have two Virginia
Tech-style attacks every single day. Virginia Tech will
be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this
time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve
for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report
to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence.
And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars.
They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently,
perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal
and tribal violence, are just shot down. Shot down, like the
college students and professors at Blacksburg. We Americans can
so easily, with a shudder, imagine the college student trying to
barricade himself behind a door against the armed madman
without. But can we put ourselves in the place of Iraqi
on February 26,
' A suicide bomber with a bomb belt got into the lobby of
the School of Administration and Economy of Mustansiriya
University in Baghdad and managed to set it off despite
being spotted at the last minute by university security
guards. The blast killed 41 and wounded a similar number
according to late reports, with body parts everywhere and
big pools of blood in the foyer as students were shredded by
the high explosives. '
That isn't "slow progress" or just "progress," the way the
weasels in Washington keep proclaiming. It is the most massive
manmade human tragedy of the young century.
According to the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) actually
trying to help the estimated 8 million Iraqis in dire need of
aid . . .
things are not going that well in Iraq.
Thousands of persons demonstrated Monday against the governor of
Basra Province, complaining of poor social services and
collapsing security, and demanding his resignation. Among the
demonstrators were followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The Sadrists are not that numerous in Basra, so this
demonstration was probably joined by other disgruntled groups,
including the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that the number of
demonstrators totalled 20,000. Some Western wire services,
however, suggested that there were as few as 3,000.
Guerrillas killed 5 US GIs on Monday in Baghdad and al-Anbar
Province. The killings of 2 others on Sunday were announced
Sunni Arab guerrillas kidnapped 11 Shiite Turkmen from a town
south of Kirkuk on Monday night. Such Shiite captives are
McClatchy reports that police found 11 bodies in Baghdad on
Monday, down from Sunday's total of 30. Several persons were
killed by mortar attacks, roadside bombs, and sniping in the
capital on Monday.
Police found 6 bodies in the streets of the northern, mostly
Sunni Arab city of Mosul (pop. 1.5 million) on Monday. Also,
"police said that 13 Iraqi army soldiers from the second
battalion were killed and 4 others were injured when insurgents
attacked their check point in Al A’daya village south west Mosul
city today." Guerrillas also shot down a lecturer and a dean at
In Tikrit, north of Baghdad, guerrillas killed 3 policemen and
wounded 6 civilians with a suicide car bomb attack.
South of Baghdad at Mahmudiya, mortar shells killed 3 and
Iran condemned Sunday's murder of 5 Iranian oil tanker drivers
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that an official in the
Baghdad municipal council told it that there are hundreds of
thousands of orphans in Baghdad schools.* She said that no
steps have been taken to provide special services to this sector
of schoolchildren, for lack of resources, and that only 2,000
are receiving government aid. (The Lancet study published last
fall found 605,000 excess violent deaths in Iraq since the US
invasion. These were fairly evenly spread around the country,
and Baghdad is a fourth of Iraq, population-wise. So 150,000
excess deaths should have occurred in Baghdad. If we assume for
the sake of argument that 100,000 of those killed were
child-rearing adults, and if we assume 5 children per family and
assume that in most cases only one parent was killed violently,
that would be 500,000 orphans in Baghdad. Not all would yet be
in school. The official alleged 900,000 orphans,but that strikes
me as too high. I'm not a demographer, though, and would be
interested in knowing what the Public Health people think about
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-proclaimed "Islamic
State of Iraq" says that Iraq under American military
occupation is a "university for terror."
To illustrate the point, the architect of the three massive
bombings in Algiers, Algeria, last Wednesday says that he
wants to turn Algeria into another Iraq. Muslim fundamentalists
and the secular military government in Algeria fought a
devastating civil war in the 1990s and into the zeroes of this
century, which left an estimated 150,000 persons dead. The
radical Salafis (Sunni revivalists), now calling themselves
al-Qaeda in North Africa, are threatening to reprise that dirty
war, which they lost. Some Algerian jihadis are getting training
in Iraq, where they have gone as volunteers to fight US troops.
The Taliban in Afghanistan are also beginning to adopt the
tactics of Iraqi guerrillas which include attacks on
civilians in hopes of mobilizing them into the war on one side
or another, on the theory that civil conflict is always good for
growing an insurgency.
Fred Kaplan at Slate lays into Senator John McCain for
admitting that if he is elected president, he'd quite possibly
get out of Iraq, just as the Democrats he is now attacking
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking in Australia, said
he left it to Australia and the US whether to withdraw from Iraq
or not. He said that he did want to stress that if the US
and Australia withdrew, they should do so in such a way as to
retain their authority and preserve their gains in the region.
The problem with this advice is that it is impossible to follow
it. Any US withdrawal from Iraq will inevitably affect its
prestige. But then, the quagmire is a daily reminder to everyone
in the region of the limits of US power.
Olmert made a big deal about 'living in the region' and
therefore 'knowing something of its dynamics.' I think his war
on Lebanon last summer demonstrates the falsity of the latter
claim, and my advice to Canberra would be pretty much to keep
his track record in mind. Even in Israel,
he is at 14% in the polls.
Anyway, I think the implication of his statement, despite his
beating around the bush, is that he doesn't relish a US and
Australian withdrawal from Iraq because he thinks it will
adversely affect Israeli security. Olmert doesn't understand
regional dynamics and doesn't seem to see that the longer the US
and its two remaining major allies in Iraq try to stay there,
the worse the situation gets, which actually is the thing that
is threatening to Israel.
The Belgian Minister of Defense has demanded that Israel pay for
the clean-up of the 1 million cluster bombs Olmert ordered
fired into south Lebanon, mostly in the last 3 days of the war
last August. There was no military purpose to this act of
vicious sabotage, and it was clearly a war crime. The goal was
to injure Lebanese civilians returning to South Lebanon, and,
since they largely support Hizbullah, to weaken that group in
the south. Kudos to Andre Flahaut for daring stand up on this
issue. Israeli politician Shimon Peres has admitted that
deploying the cluster bombs was a "mistake."
So if the Australians know what is good for them, they won't pay
too much attention to Olmert, perhaps the most inept prime
minister Israel has ever had.
Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute.
Visit his blog
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