Sunday, December 18, 2011

Farewell to Iraq, Remember Camp Ashraf

I suppose we should be celebrating. US troops have just about finished withdrawing from Iraq.  Mission accomplished.  Oh, but what was the mission again?  Oh yes, find and destroy the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein had hidden away so slyly, those weapons that posed such a threat to the entire region’s security, indeed to the security of western civilization.  But they never were found, were they?  Oh well, mission not accomplished in that case. 
So what has been the cost?  In human terms: 4,500 American dead and thousands of Iraqi dead.  How many thousands of Iraqi?  Well, while we count every American causality, the best we can say regarding Iraqi causalities during this war is that lots were killed.  According to the conservative estimate of Iraq Bodycount, one of the few western organisations  that shows any interest in maintaining an account of the human damage inflicted by the Blair/Bush invasion, the number  of documented killings of Iraqi civilians since the joint US/UK invasion now stands at 113,755.

Otto Dix: The Flare

And what does the USA leave in its wake, beyond thousands of fresh graves and gutted buildings and a society torn by sectarian strife and violence? Well, the government of Nouri al-Maliki is not only Shi'ite Islamist, but becomes more pro-Iranian by the day.  Most appalling is the situation of Camp Ashraf, where 3,400 members of an Iranian mujahideen opposition group is facing a possible massacre as their protectors, the United States, walk out and leave them high and dry.  Their new “protectors” are the Iraqi government of al-Maliki, who earlier this year attacked the camp, killed 34 and injuring hundreds.  The camp has been in Iraq since the early 1980s and has been a thorn in the side of the Iranian leadership.  American troops disarmed the camp’s fighters in 2003 and in return promised the camp’s residents protection under the Geneva Conventions.  But the US turned control over to the Iraqi government.  Iran has been putting pressure on Iraq to close the camp and al-Maliki has promised that the camp will be closed by the end of this month.  The camp’s residents claim they will move, but only if they are collectively granted asylum in a third country, a demand supported by the United Nations.

The US has classified the leadership of  the camp as a terrorist organization.  How convenient.  Just like ‘weapons of mass destruction” was a convenient ploy.  The United Nations refutes the US designation, as does the European Union, just like the situation of WMDs back in 2003.  In fact the application of the terrorist tag by the United States is illegal under international law and has been condemned by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  If Iraq moves against Camp Ashraf this will be a true act of terrorism. Yesterday the Vice-President of the European Parliament took the unusual step of placing a half-page advertisement in the New York Times and Washington Post calling for Hillary Clinton to demonstrate moral courage and for the US to assume responsibility for the protection of the 3,400 Ashraf residents who are facing a possible massacre. You can email President Obama via the Camp Ashraf website.

This morning I’ve been listening to the new album of Tom Waits, Bad as Me.  I’ve always found that there is something Weimaresque about Waits’ music. It always puts me in the mood of the great anti-war paintings and drawings of Dix and Grosz.  The work of these brave Weimar artists says all there is to be said about the futility and vulgarity of war.  They dared to hold up truth to counter jingoist myths. And now Waits, has summed up my feelings towards the war in Iraq:

“ how is it that the only ones responsible for making this mess
got their sorry asses stapled to a goddamn desk”.

Georg Grosz: The War Veteran
And Waits finishes his song "Hell Broke Luce" with the words
"now i'm home and i'm blind
and i'm broke
what is next?"


  1. Hello:
    We cannot agree more with what you write here. The situation in Iraq is truly terrible and the loss of life appalling. But, as you say, even more disturbing is the fact that Iraqi deaths do not even seem worthy of being counted. Man's inhumanity to man continues.