Iraq Watch: Costs of War, Ambassador Negroponte, Reconstruction Myth

New Study on the Costs of Iraq War, Negroponte as US Ambassador to Iraq, “Reconstruction” of Iraq a Myth, US Stops Effort to get War Crimes Immunity, O’Reilly: Iraqis a Primitive Group

New Study on the Costs of the War on Iraq

The Institute for Foreign Policy Studies has released a new study described as the “first comprehensive accounting of the costs of the war on the United States, Iraq, and the world.” The study, titled Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War, examines the human costs, security, economic costs, and social costs of the war. Among the key findings:

Human Costs to the United States: 835 soldiers killed, 5,134 wounded, 8 journalists killed, and 36 civilian contractors killed.

Humans Costs to Iraq: Between 9,436 and 11,317 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the invasion, an estimated 40,000 civilians have been injured, between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers were killed during ?major combat operations,? and the use of Depleted Uranium weapons by the United States and Britain are expected to result in long-term health effects.

Security Costs to the United States: Al-Qaeda membership is believed to have grown since the start of the occupation, 52% of soldiers in Iraq report low morale, and the United Staes suffers from low credibility as a result of pre-war lies and military mistakes.

Security Costs to Iraq: There has been a dramatic rise in crimes such as murder, rape, and kidnapping since March 2003.

Economic Costs to the United States: The total cost of the war is $151.1 billion through this year and it is estimated that the bill will add up to an average of at least $3,415 per household.

Economic Costs to Iraq: Most of the reconstruction effort has been contracted out to United States companies that have failed to complete the process and unemployment has doubled from 30 to 60% in summer of 2003.

Social Costs to the United States: The $151.1 billion spent on the war could have been used for close to 23 million housing vouchers, health care for over 27 million uninsured Americans, 20 million Head Start slots, or health care for 82 million children.

Social Costs to Iraq: Hospitals suffer from a lack of supplies, and school attendance is well below pre-war levels both due to “security concerns” and as a result of the destruction of an estimated 200 schools during the invasion.

CPA Gets Ready to Disband, John Negroponte Takes Top Spot in Iraq

John Negroponte, a United States diplomat who has a record of ignoring human rights abuses during his tenure as a diplomat to Honduras, is set to take over as United States Ambassador to Iraq. During his time as ambassador to Honduras (1981-1985), which was ruled by a military dictatorship, military aid grew from $5 to $100 million and economic aid to $200 million, as part of former President Ronald Regan’s “war on terror” designed to crush leftist governments?a campaign condemned by the International World Court. Negroponte helped to initiate United States support of the contras who were backed by the Regan administration in an attempt to undermine Nicaragua’s Marxist-leaning Sandinista government.

Moreover, Negroponte knew of the kidnappings, rape, torture, and killing of suspected dissidents inside Honduras by Battalion 316, a secret Honduran army trained and supported by the CIA (worth noting is that General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, head of Battalion 316, was trained at the School of the Americas).

Prior to his appointment to Ambassador to Iraq, Negroponte was an ambassador to the United Nations and at the time of his nomination to that job, there was considerable scrutiny of his dubious record with his nomination held up for six months concerning his knowledge of death squads, yet he managed to get the job. Some have cynically pointed out that John Negroponte is exactly who the Bush administration needs in Iraq–he has long been able to avoid being held accountable either legally or in the media for his record of human rights abuses. Noam Chomsky has also used the occasion of Negroponte’s nomination to offer his own reflections on Negroponte’s career and parallels between his Honduran mission and Iraq mission.

The “Reconstruction” of Iraq

David Enders, a Grand Rapids resident reporting from Iraq, has been investigating the status of Bechtel’s reconstruction of Iraqi schools. According to Enders, “rarely, rarely do I set out to write an article and find that the reality is considerably worse than what I expected to find.” Ender reports that schools are “coming apart at the seams”–paint washes off with the rain, missing windowpanes, bad wiring, and worst of all, Bechtel largely refuses to answer questions about the school reconstruction.

It is also being reported that little of the $18.7 billion allotted for reconstruction is being used. This money was set aside as part of the $87 billion Iraq package passed last fall by the United States Congress. As it turns out, only $3.7 billion of this money has been spent while the United States is spending $2.5 billion of Iraqi oil revenues to pay for US ordered reconstruction projects.

A new study, The Iraq Jobs Crisis: Iraqi Workers Seek Their Own Voice, by the Education for Peace in Iraq Center has found that the United States has failed to improve employment for most Iraqis. Out of a workforce of 7 to 8 million, two million Iraqis are unemployed. While the Bush administration promised the creation of 850,000 jobs, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) only created 395,000.

US Stops Effort to Get War Crimes Immunity in Iraq from United Nations

As is being reported in the corporate media, the United States has withdrawn a United Nations Security Council Resolution to exempt US soldiers from war crimes prosecutions. According to the United States ambassador to the UN, they did this to avoid a “prolonged and divisive debate,” as it had become clear that the many opposed the move. Of course, the United States already has agreements from 90 countries not to prosecute Americans. In addition, one of Paul Bremer’s last acts as head of Iraq will be to extend Order 17 which provides exemption from Iraqi law to all foreign personnel, most notably US military forces.

United States to be in Violation of International Law Once Again

The United States is positioning itself to once again be in violation of international law in Iraq with its recent announcement that it will continue to hold prisoners without charges after the June 30 “transfer of sovereignty.” According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, the United States’ holding of 4,000 to 5,000 detainees after June 30 will be a violation of international law. The Geneva Conventions allow detentions without charges only during an occupation or an international armed conflict between governments. By the United States own admission, neither condition will exist in Iraq after June 30.

Bill O’Reilly: Iraqis are “a Primitive Group”

Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor claimed on his radio program on June 17, 2004 that Iraqis are “a primitive group.” In the same program, O’Reilly advised that in the future the United States military should “bomb the living daylights” out of nations when they intervene in the Middle East, and in the case of Fallujah where there is a strong anti-occupation resistance movement, the military should “just go ahead and level it.” These statements, shocking as they may be, are consistent with Fox News’ lack of concern for civilians throughout Bush’s “war on terror” and O’Reilly’s view of that Iraqis are not deserving of any “respect,” which apparently means there is nothing wrong with killing over 9,400 civilians in Iraq.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org