Viewing the whole picture in Iraq: Why the U.S. presence is counterproductive to the goal of stability

Derek Thurber

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Derek ThurberEver since the “war in Iraq” or the “war on terror” or whatever other name it has been dubbed started, there has been little or no security or stability in Iraq. Regional violence runs wild, terrorist attacks strike daily and barriers are broken every hour.

This has always been the case, but there are some new developments that make it ever more interesting than before. The United States has, at least in the past year, claimed that certain areas of Baghdad under control of the military are safe zones. They like to call these areas “green zones.”

However, in the past few weeks there have been several car bombs that have exploded within the green zone. The military is unable to explain these attacks in the stable areas. They are trying to figure out who did this by talking to the local authority figures, but such talks have gotten them nowhere.

It is clear that the troops do not have control at all in Iraq. First there was the terrorist violence. Then there was the factional violence. And now there is this internal violence. Viewing the whole picture in Iraq: Why the U.S. presence is counterproductive to the goal of stability | Illustration by Avi Conant

If the U.S. government can’t even keep the green zone free of sectarian or terrorist violence, there is no reason for us to even be there. U.S. troops in Iraq can’t even keep themselves safe, much less fight against somebody else.

Other similar events have happened recently. Separate incidents have occurred in which car bombs or other weapons have killed, or nearly killed, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens alike.

All throughout Iraq there has been regional violence and destabilization since the beginning of the war. There has never even been any semblance of a stable country since the U.S. military entered Iraq.

No matter how many times the government tells the people that Iraq is looking up, or that stability in Iraq is better, or even that violence in Iraq has gone down, it is only for a limited time. These are probably not lies, but they are views of a single day or a set of days. The whole picture tells a very different story.

This other story is one of violence, death, chaos, instability and terrorism. It is the story that nobody wants to hear, but it is the truth. It is not safe in any place in Iraq, not even in the “green zones” that the U.S. government believes to be safe.

As if this was not enough, the government has also engaged in questionable practice regarding civilian casualties.

In the largest raid since President Bush declared the active violence over in 2003, the U.S. government reported an estimated 49 enemy casualties. However, the Iraqi police and medical staff reported only 15 deaths for the same raid, and all 15 were civilians, three of whom were children.

It would appear that not only can the U.S. government not protect their own troops, but they also can’t shoot the enemy: they shoot Iraqi civilians. Something seems wrong with this picture.

Perhaps some day the government will realize that we can’t do our job in Iraq and we shouldn’t even be there. I don’t know why that is so hard to figure out.

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