Women and Children First: The Lessons of Iraq

Women, kids, old, sick most at risk in Iraq (Reuters)
Single women, children and the old and sick in Iraq are most at risk of being left hungry and homeless among people uprooted by the sectarian violence, an international aid group warned on Tuesday. In a report, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that children were especially vulnerable to malnutrition and spread of disease.

"... traditional coping mechanisms are not only being stretched to the limit but are starting to break down," said Rafiq Tschannen, IOM's chief of mission for Iraq. Even in the "comparatively stable" Qadissiya province, some 200 kms south of Baghdad, some 11 percent of the displaced are widows left alone to fend for themselves and their children, according to the report by the Geneva-based agency. According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), some 50,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes each month because of the violence adding to the more than 1.5 million already homeless within Iraq.

Ho-hum. Old news. We've killed hundreds of thousands of these weaklings already, been killing them for years, with sanctions, bombs, snipers, chaos, deprivation, whatever. Who cares? You know what's really important? If Jim Baker can "seal his legacy in the realm of statesmen" by spraying enough perfume on the shitheap that Junior Bush has made of Iraq so that the high and mighty of the American Establishment can slither out of the mire without smelling too bad.

That's what it's all about, baby, that's the kind of thing that counts. How a lifelong, bloodstained bagman can become a "second Disraeli." How Hillary and Obama can nuance their positions to squeeze maximum political mileage out of the American-made mass slaughter in Iraq. How many he-man poses John McCain can strike on his knees as he grovels to the slavering extremists he thinks will make him president.

That's where the focus of our political discourse will be from here on out. (With frequent side dishes of stern condemnation of the worthless Iraqis for "failing" us, of course.) This time next year – when U.S. forces have either high-tailed it "over the horizon" into Kuwait or else are hunkered down in the (supposedly) permanent bases from which the Bush-Cheney faction have always intended to plunder the spoils of the hydra-headed war they've engendered – the chattering classes that control the public debate will still be chewing the clot-smeared rags of the Beltway power game.

Long after the casualties of the Establishment-backed "war of choice" have passed the one million mark, we'll still see cozy pictures of George W. Bush pardoning turkeys. We'll still hear H. Clinton and John Edwards and other "opposition" leaders who authorized the war of aggression waxing eloquent on "stability and peace" and "a more responsible approach to American power" and "let no one doubt our bipartisan resolve" to slap Iran or goose Korea or poke Waziristan or do "whatever it takes" to "preserve and defend our way of life and advance the cause of freedom in the world." The women and children and old and sick of Iraq – a once-modern land reduced to a state of savagery by the reckless greed and inbred stupidity of the American elite – will scarcely feature as background noise to the bright chatter of the chatterers as they natter away in comfort and safety.

While the weakest sicken, dwindle and die in burned-out towns and refugee camps, learned symposia will be convening in pricey hotels and greenswarded universities to ponder "the lessons of Iraq" and determine how to "do it better next time." Indeed, the New York Times – that indispensable dispenser of conventional wisdom, the great cow whose dripping cud is gobbled by the whole media herd – has already begun the process. Its Sunday editorial adjures future leaders to imbibe bitter wisdom from the "misconceived notions" that bedeviled the Iraqi adventure, and be sure to have plenty more "stabilization" jazzmo on hand the next time U.S. foreign policy requires "re-establishing order in a defeated, decapitated society." Because God knows, we're always going to be defeating and decapitating societies somewhere, right?

The Times editorial makes crystal clear what the American Establishment has really learned from "the lessons of Iraq": absolutely nothing.
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