Watching the military parades held in Iraq’s cities earlier today to celebrate the departure of the US troops and noting the deaths of four more Americans during the withdrawal it was all too easy to think that the wheel has turned full circle. Iraq is headed by a strongman who intends to stay in power come what may, not unlike Saddam though representing a different constituency. The country continues to be one of the most corrupt in the world and electricity and water are in short supply, worse even then during Saddam’s latter days.
US interests have hardly been served by the six year occupation. Apart from defense contractors and a few oil companies it is hard to imagine that anyone sees any benefits. 4319 Americans and at least 90,000 Iraqis killed violently since 2003. At a cost of maybe as much as $5 trillion when all the bills are paid by our grandchildren. Saddam’s secularism has been replaced by a Shi’ite dominated power structure and Iraq’s role as an Arab bulwark against Iranian hegemony is just a memory. The Christian minority, protected under Saddam, has more-or-less fled the country. Iran has benefited most from America’s takedown of Saddam. And yet there are 130,000 US troops remaining in their fortress-bases outside the cities, there to help maintain order, apparently. Bring them home and tell the Iraqis to use their oil money to hire more police. The whole Iraq adventure made no sense when it started and makes even less sense now. Cheney is getting a $2 million advance for his memoirs.