Iraq- Better off now?

One of the favorite "straw man" questions posed by the current Administration, their minions, and their media mouthpieces is a derivative of the question, "Aren't you glad Saddam's not in power?" This has a tendency of freezing even those most opposed to our 'adventure' in Iraq in their tracks for fear of seeming to side with a 'tyrant'.

Notwithstanding the broader implications of removing anyone distasteful (at the moment) from power and the accompanying costs in blood and treasure, the question seems better posed to Iraqi's (not expatriates) that lived under him and who now live under American occupation rather than some P.R. hack posing as a journalist, pundit, or 'expert' in an air-conditioned studio.

Be that as it may and, just for 'fun', it's worth taking a look at Administration claims placed against the backdrop of the above-mentioned question, and compare them to just a few of the realities on the ground.

Statements (2002-2005) relating to America's vision for the Middle East (Afghanistan and Iraq as starters) and the beginnings of Iraqi appreciation of our efforts:

"We believe every child should have a chance to realize his or her dreams. We believe in peace." George Bush- 2002

"I believe we're making really good progress in Iraq, because the Iraqi people are beginning to see the benefits of a free society." George Bush- 2005

Reality (2005): From- The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)- a humanitarian news agency covering sub-Saharan Africa, eight countries in central Asia and Iraq.

IRAQ: Campaign for blood donation launched- During Saddam Hussein's regime the blood requirements were related to diseases and never to poor security issues, according to medical staff, who explained that even under international sanctions supplies were much better than today.

IRAQ: Living conditions still poor, survey says- Living conditions in Iraq suffered after the fall of Saddam Hussein, according to a survey conducted by the government, which highlighted problems in health, education and basic supplies....The survey showed that nearly a quarter of children aged between six months and five years were malnourished.

IRAQ: Focus on child labour- Eleven-year-old Mahmoud al-Obaidi walks seven km every morning to get to work at a carpentry factory in Baghdad so he can save his bus fares...On average he spends nearly 10 hours a day in the factory earning a living...nearly 1,300,000 children, aged between eight and 16 were[are] working. This represents 6.1 percent of the country's population...In addition, the survey revealed long working hours, with 27 percent of children working for more than eight hours daily...Working children were already researched and documented in northern Iraq and were seen in southern and central Iraq before the war, but the socio/economic circumstances of Iraq following the war in 2003 are seen to have pushed more children to the streets and worksites, the UNICEF official said...Many children also make a living through drugs and prostitution, perceived to be easier ways of earning money, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS).


IRAQ: Shortage of drugs for epileptic children
- Iraqi doctors have reported a shortage of medicine for children suffering from epilepsy because of the high cost of purchasing the drugs needed to treat the condition....In a country where the economy is still reeling from war and years of sanctions, the price is too high for most Iraqis. Most pharmacies don’t even stock such expensive drugs because of the low demand....During Saddam Hussein’s regime, many medicines were provided under the now defunct Oil-for-Food Programme (OFFP).

IRAQ: Doctors warn of increasing deformities in newborn babies..."In my experiments we have found some cases where the mother or father were suffering from pollution from weapons used in the south and we believe that it is affecting newborn babies in the country," Dr Ibraheem al-Jabouri, a scientist at Baghdad University, told IRIN...According to Dr Nawar Ali, at the University of Baghdad, who works in the newborn babies research department, a significant number of cases of deformed babies had been reported since 2003...There have been 650 cases in total since August 2003 reported in government hospitals - that is a 20 percent increase from the previous regime. Private hospitals were not included in the study, so "the number could be higher,” Ali warned...The type of deformities found in newborn babies are characterised by multiple fingers, unusually large heads, unilateral lips or no arms or legs..."Our children have started to suffer the effect of years of war and disasters inside Iraq. The wars happened but no one cared about the result it was going to have and today innocent lives are being lost due to pollution and poor information," Firdous al-Abadi, a spokeswomen for the IRCS, told IRIN.

It seems that no matter what color lipstick is put on this pig of a neo-con 'adventure', it's still a pig. The experts who say otherwise are too far away from the depleted uranium, the shortages of blood, the scarcity of medicine, the malnourishment, and the child labor and prositution to see that fact.

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