Twenty Years Later, an Update From Iraq: ‘There Is No Future Here for My Children.’

Corruption, pollution, poverty, water shortages, and a climate of fear. Is this what democracy looks like?

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Twenty years after George W. Bush and his neocon cabinet moved forward with plans to invade Iraq, and more than a decade after Barack Obama promised to end the war, the US still maintains hundreds of troops in the country with no plans to leave.

Unsurprisingly, Iraqis aren’t exactly eager for the US to stay.

In 2019, a poll found seven out of ten Iraqis wanting Americans to withdraw from the country, with VOA News reporting 78 percent of Iraqis feeling the US military presence in their country “is provoking more conflict” than it is preventing.

The following year, Iraq’s parliament passed a resolution calling for the US to withdraw, prompting war-hungry American news networks such as CNN to condescendingly cover the move with headlines such as, “Iraq has voted to expel US troops. Whether they’ll actually be kicked out is far from clear”.

Despite the rhetoric we heard during the initial invasion in March of 2003 about bringing “democracy” to Iraq, twenty years later, the will of the Iraqi people and their government is being actively ignored in favor of US interests.

“There is no future here for my children,” Raghed Jasim, an Iraqi citizen, told the Associated Press back in March. “Of course I blame the corrupt Iraqi government. But I blame the Americans too. They replaced our leaders with thieves.”

Jasim is one of many Iraqis recently diagnosed with cancer, something he attributes to living near an oil production plant. For other Iraqis — such as those in the city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by an onslaught of depleted uranium during the US invasion — spikes in cancer and birth defects have exceeded those reported following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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“After 2003, more and more oil was exported, and we expected to benefit from this,” Bashir Jabir, an Iraqi from a small village told AP. “Instead, it hurt us.”

In late September, Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani met with representatives from dozens of US energy companies in New York to pitch potential investments. “My government is serious about investment in gas and to be an active and powerful player in the gas market,” he told Bloomberg.

Unfortunately, any wealth generated from these investments is unlikely to be enjoyed by Iraqi civilians, who continue to deal with cancerous pollution, crippling poverty, and widespread water and electricity shortages.

Meanwhile, voter turnout has reached historic lows and many Iraqis are afraid to speak out against their government.

In 2018, Iraqi protests were met with “swift crackdowns” by security forces, and “assassinations by armed groups” have created a climate of fear, reports AP. “The killings silenced many activists,” said Basra activist Ammar Sarhan, yet “business continues as usual.”

And so alas, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions in taxpayer dollars, America’s warped brand of “democracy” has been fully exported to Iraq. To the surprise of few, it isn’t looking very democratic at all.

* Jon Reynolds is a freelance journalist covering a wide range of topics with a primary focus on the labor movement and collapsing US empire. He writes at The Screeching Kettle at Substack. Reprinted with permission.

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