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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
Iraq is rarely discussed in the mainstream media these days. Eight years after W’s “Mission Accomplished” moment, the American public seems to have finally accepted the false corporate narrative that the war is over and American forces have – to use the appropriate Bush terminology – prevailed. But the war isn’t over; the illegal 2003 invasion created lingering effects which persist to this day, and the occupation still continues, claiming the lives of civilians soldiers alike.
There are many aspects of the Iraq invasion and occupation that have been forgotten about or entirely ignored by the American public: the tens – hundreds – of thousands of dead civilians, the ongoing lack of access to water, electricity and adequate medical care, the complete lack of order in cities across the nation. And hidden away beneath countless layers of forgotten aspects of the war are children who lives were forever changed when American military action resulted in the deaths of their parents.
Al-Jazeera reported today that there are some 1 million orphans in Iraq now, whose parents were killed as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation. As if having one’s parents slaughtered at the hands of foreign invaders was not torturous enough, most of these children now appear to be homeless. Facing the reality of high unemployment and widespread poverty in a the midst of a war zone, many relatives are forced to abandon these orphans. But there are very few orphanages in Iraq, so the children often have no one to which they can turn.
One million orphans is a staggering number to consider; it is nearly the entire population of my home state of Maine. But this estimate may be far too low. Other sources place the figure as high as 4.5 million:
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs estimate that around 4.5 million children are orphans. Nearly 70 percent of them lost their parents since the invasion and the ensuing violence. From the total number, around 600,000 children are living in the streets without a house or food to survive. Only 700 children are living in the 18 orphanages existing in the country, lacking their most essential needs.
Regardless of the cause, the prospect of 4.5 million orphans, most lacking even the most basic necessities, is utterly devastating. But consider the fact that the majority of these children face such dire circumstances because of the actions of our government, funded by our tax-dollars. As citizens of the U.S. we are, albeit indirectly, responsible for the massive suffering endured by the weakest and most defenseless segment of an already impoverished nation.
Our elected officials – virtually all of them – support the actions that have brought this tragedy into existence, and we should remember this as the election cycle begins to move into full swing. Even pushing all moral reasons aside, is this really how we wish our hard-earned tax dollars to be spent? And do you truly feel comfortable supporting a politician who feels comfortable supporting the ongoing occupation, with full knowledge of the consequences?
We must demand a full, immediate withdrawal, not just from Iraq but from every other country in which we are currently engaged in wanton acts of death and destruction: Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and most recently Libya. We have enough blood on our hands already, and every day we remain in these countries the body count continues to rise.
End the occupations. End the violence. Bring our troops home. Devote our resources to constructive purposes like universal health care and an improved education system, rather than the doubly wasteful military empire we currently support. Reject any politician who even suggests otherwise.