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U.S. occupation of Iraq brutal and corrupt

13 February, 2006

President George Bush keeps trying to sell the occupation of Iraq as a noble humanitarian effort, implemented effectively, worth its cost in U.S. and Iraqi lives and the enormous wealth it swallows up. But the truth is that the occupation is brutal, corrupt and a horrible waste of human and material resources. It is almost certain to end up with a defeat for the most destructive military machine humanity has known.

A new vicious side to the U.S. occupation these last few months has been the Pentagon’s air war against the Iraqi population. Little is seen or reported of this war. For one thing, the Pentagon doesn’t invite even “embedded” reporters to join the flights. For another, the brass provides only minimal information to the media.

What the Pentagon does provide is this: Up until last August, there were about 25 air strikes per month. By November it had risen to 120. By January it was 150.

The air strikes on the far western corner of Iraq during Operation Steel Curtain hit the town of Husaybah hard. One week into this assault, Dr. Zahid Mohammed Rawi from that region said that medical workers recorded the deaths of 97 civilians along with 38 guerrilla fighters. (Wash ington Post, Dec. 24)

This gives an idea of what increased air strikes will bring. Many U.S. military analysts and even alleged war opponents like Rep. John Murtha are advocating pulling out U.S. ground troops and increasing the air war. This may not enable U.S. imperialism to conquer Iraq, but is certain to kill lots of Iraqis.

A cesspool of corruption

The Bush administration had planned to work the Iraqi oil wells effectively enough to pay the expenses of the occupation. It hasn’t been able to go beyond the pre-war level of production. But it doesn’t mean that no one is making money from the occupation.

Robert Stein, a contractor with a 1998 conviction for fraud, nevertheless worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the body headed by Paul Bremer who ran Iraq for about a year after the U.S.-led invasion. On Feb. 2, Stein pled guilty to counts of conspiracy, bribery, money laun dering, unlawful possession of machine guns and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In his role as government official, Stein “admitted to stealing over $2 million in cash and taking enormous bribes from the businessman, Philip Bloom, in 2003 and 2004 in return for accepting rigged bids on construction contracts that Bloom was guaranteed to win,” according to the Feb. 2 New York Times.

An Associated Press story Jan. 30 made it clear that the corruption went far beyond the connivance between Stein and Bloom. A U.S. government audit showed that the CPA wasted tens of millions of dollars. Lots of the money just disappeared from the books. Some was stolen.

The U.S. had seized cash from the Iraqi government or got it from Iraqi oil revenues. The officials in the south-central region of Iraq—an area where the resistance has not been particularly strong—kept large amounts of cash, millions of dollars, in their foot lockers.

According to a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruc tion, “tens of millions of dollars in cash had gone in and out of the South-Central Region vault without any tracking of who deposited and withdrew the money, and why it was taken out.”

Other items in the reports stated that: Of $23 million earmarked for civilian and military project and contracting officers to pay contractors, only a quarter ever reached the contractors and the CPA paid one contractor $14,000 for the same job four times.

The audit reports on the other regions of Iraq have not been published yet. There is no reason to expect that these will show any less theft and overall corruption by the U.S. occupation force.

Infrastructure near collapse

There are many reasons the Iraqi infrastructure is in such poor shape. Twelve years of bombing and sanctions prevented real maintenance and repair under the Saddam Hussein regime. But it’s also obvious that U.S. rule not only has brought no improvement and the infrastructure has further deteriorated.

For the first time in winter there have been severe water shortages in Baghdad’s suburbs. Iraqis have running water only a few hours daily. Another item in short supply is cement, with 13 state-owned plants running at 25 percent capacity. The U.S. economic advisers suggest that the cement plants be privatized.

Any attempt to repair the oil infrastructure is hampered by the resistance, and now by a new kind of “corruption.” According to an article in The New York Times Feb. 5, “a sitting member of the Iraqi National Assembly has been indicted in the theft of millions of dollars meant for protecting a critical oil pipeline against attacks and is suspected of funneling some of that money to the insurgency.”



Reader Comments:

re: U.S. occupation of Iraq brutal and corrupt

The very fact that you do not mention Saddam Hussein's murderous regime makes your comments completely illegitimate. If you wish to pursue *serious* commentary upon this war then you need to get some *serious* minded perspective and context.

Until that time you are just a silly propoganda piece.

It's your choice..

Seattle, WA, USA

Bruce, United Kingdom - 13 February, 2006

Bruce Almighty

your imperialist dork, if the article had began with "Sadam was a real murderous as.....but now that he is gone look at the chaos that prevails under the reign of `freedom` " would that have made you happier!
It is you who is subjected to the ruthless propaganda machine of a corrupt and lying administration!

N. John, Pakistan - 14 February, 2006

Re: U.S. occupation of Iraq brutal and corrupt

Each time I read where somebody suggests that Saddam's regime was murderous has me chuckle aloud.

Saddam reacted to any attempt to dethrone him in exactly the same fashion that the U.S. is doing now.


Calm, Pakistan - 14 February, 2006


Hey bruce, Just cause Saddam was evil and murderous doesn`t mean you have to mention him everytime you mention Iraq. We`ve been there for a long time now and we need to take responsibilty for what we have done and are doing. How does mentioning Saddam make this a "*serious*" piece? You suck, peace.

Bruce, United Kingdom - 14 February, 2006

I will be hosest with you I think Bruce is right

Noel, Iran, Islamic Republic Of - 14 February, 2006

re: Bruce

Bruce's comments are of course typical of the Bush sycophants. Commentary does not rise to the level of seriousness unless it is in praise of the 21st century's leading war criminal, George W Bush.
Frank, Somers, MT USA

Frank, Pakistan - 14 February, 2006

This is what Americans have come to: defending the occupation of Iraq by comparing themselves to Saddam Hussein. Sure, innocent Iraqi civilians are being bombed daily, by terrorists and by the U.S. army, but hey - at least they're a little better off than they were under Saddam Hussein, right?

Because the author of the article did not thank the U.S. for deposing Saddam Hussein, Bruce thinks this makes his entire article "completely illiegitimate".

The Iraqi people have had a greater evil replaced with a lesser one, but that does not mean they should tolerate the lesser evil because "things could be worse".

Brian, Canada - 14 February, 2006

Bruce, you need to know, this is a Pakistani paper. American media from Fox news to CNN fanned the “Operation Iraqi Freedom” slogan, which came from the worlds #1 terrorist W. Bush and his criminal gang. Portraying the rape of Iraq as freedom, many people like you got all confused to what this all this war is about. Your friend Saddam whom your governments supported in the past outlived his usefulness and had to be taken out. No one in Islamic world shade a tear over his demise, in fact it is a good lesson for Qadaffi, Husni Mubarak, Kings of despot in oil rich countries that their service to the U.S. may not be rewarded if and when there is an alternative. Oppressed people in Islamic world need to see the fight between the oppressors and their masters from a distance. America came a little late in Iraq, it would have been easier in 1991, where the Shiites were rising to overthrow Saddam, but America let them down and the mass killings started while H.W. Bush shrugged the promise he made for the Shiites. You can talk about your man Saddam, or listen it from CNN if you like, but they will never tell you the crimes he committed is all monitored and wasn’t a concern for American leaders at that time; but instead they overthrow him when he wasn’t committing atrocities.
Who is listening to the propaganda and belie
ve it too? That is you Bruce.

tirusew, Pakistan - 14 February, 2006

I must shield my eyes---Bruce's brilliance will blind me!

Illegitimate? Wow, 5 syllables. Too bad you failed to produce a legitimate argument for your claim.

Serious? Silly? Pot? Black?

Your last name doesn't happen to be Cheney, does it?

Martin, United Kingdom - 14 February, 2006

US Occupation Brutal & Corrupt

Pity Bruce from Seattle, WA, USA. No one seriously contests the brutality of Saddam Hussein's rule. Is he saying that Amreica's actions are to be judged solely in the context of that rule, that America's actions, whatever they may be and however barbaric, are nevertheless less despicable because they do not "measure down" to Saddam's behavior? So if Saddam killed ten thousand and america kills five thousand, both recklessly and with a casual disregard for human life, then america's actions are better and more benign? Is he mad or is he just a simple-minded, parochial American, ignorant of both the outside world and filled with disgusting hubris? The bombing is cruel and careless, regardless of the so-called "smart weapons" used. And for Americans, so long as the tru horros of such actions are kept from their TV screns and their so-called independent newspapers, then all the suffering and death inflicted by their forces are meaningless.

I wish people like Bruse would just shut the hell up unless they have something intelligent (wow!) to say.


Ray, Canada - 14 February, 2006

US out of Iraq

Right, Bruce. No matter what the US does to Iraq, it's OK because obviously Saddam was worse. Yeah, right. I'm sure this unique perspective brings much joy to the Iraqis. Just how would you feel about a foreign power occupying YOUR homeland? This sad, illegal war is just another in a long line of arrogant US imperialist idiocies and it shames me to see what my country has sunk to. But gee, Saddam was worse! So everything's OK. Iraqis feel better being killed and tortured and beaten and oppressed by the Good Guys.

Kevin, United Kingdom - 14 February, 2006

US occupation of Iraq . .

Most Iraqis say that life is 100 times worse now than even under Saddam.
The point that Bruce chooses to miss is that his country has no damned right to attack and invade other people's lands. Such activity is a war crime, in fact the most serious of all war crimes and maybe Bruce needs to go clean up his own country and learn a bit about international law - because the international reputation of his country has never been lower. Is this what the US is reduced to, the most powerful country on Earth, bombing and killing poor defenceless people in their own lands? Outrageous and Pathetic !

Andy, United Arab Emirates - 14 February, 2006

re: U.S. occupation of Iraq brutal and corrupt

Bruce is apparently unaware that the U.S. supports murderous regimes whenever it's in its strategic and economic interest to do so. The USA has supported Saddam himself. The occupation IS brutal and corrupt - far too many of the soldiers and other US citizens believed Bush when he implied over and over that Saddam was responsible for 9/11 - but unfortunately most citizens of the worlds only super-power are quite uninterested in foreign policy and only pay minimal attention when the US gets involved in yet another conflict. Then there are the Halliburtons,the KBR's, the Custer Battles who rushed over to Iraq to make some big money.

BJ, United Kingdom - 14 February, 2006

Oh, Bruce

Oh, Bruce. You silly little man.

Samoht Drahcir, Norway - 14 February, 2006

I am deeply ashamed to be an American. Please know that there are many Americans who hate Bush. He has overthrown our democracy and now rules virtually as a dictator. Someday he and all his Administration will burn in hellfire for what they are doing: torturing in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, poisoning Iraqi farmlands for all time with depleted uranium and killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians during the sanctions and then during the war. May God help us all.

Romi Elnagar, United Kingdom - 14 February, 2006

Hey Bruce

The very fact that you do not mention the bankrolling of Saddam Hussein by the Reagan administration *while* he was committing genocide makes your comment completely illegitimate. If you wish to pursue *serious* commentary upon this war then you need to get some *serious* history lessons.

Until that time you are just a silly jingoistic conservative.

I'd say it's your choice, but being stupid isn't usually optional.

Nashville, TN, USA

Thomas, United Kingdom - 15 February, 2006

completely illegitimate?

The fact that the only response Bruce can offer is that omitting mention of Saddam's regime renders this essay "completely illegitimate" suggests that Bruce needs to sharpen his argumentative skills.

JR, United Kingdom - 15 February, 2006

To Bruce in Seattle

To quote a fellow traveler"you are just a silly propoganda piece".
Have a great day!

noelj, United Kingdom - 15 February, 2006

Bruce is silly

How on earth does the failure of a commentary on US incompotence in Iraq to critisize the deposed dictator prove the invalidity of the criticism?

richt, United Kingdom - 15 February, 2006

You should mention Hussein's regime, the West's arming that regime, and the fact that the same Rumsfeld and Cheney who pushed this war and occupation supported Hussein and his murderous regime two decades ago. That should put the U.S. government's concern for the Iraqi people in proper perspective and context.

aaron, United Kingdom - 15 February, 2006

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