Creating people's geographies
Welcome to Iraqi society, the cradle of civilisation, 6 years after the second brutal invasion that followed a genocidal sanctions regime: Dahr Jamail reports of child trafficking and dozens of cases of US soldiers stealing from reconstruction funds. That’s on top of failing infrastructure and unimaginable daily violence, and much else besides. An horrific but important read where Jamail’s justified anger is palpable as he concludes, “Everything becomes twisted, grotesque and inhuman amidst the bilateral psychosis that is war and occupation. This is how West Point graduates loot funds meant for providing aid to Iraqis. This is how your tax dollars are paying the men who are killing US soldiers in Iraq. This is how nothing touched by the vile, immoral, US occupation of Iraq is left unscathed.” Excerpted, read in full here.
[…] What continues to be missed is the deep suffering within the country that is cutting through the Iraqi people like a vicious incurable cancer, which is how most Iraqis continue to perceive the occupation.
Nowadays, at least 150 Iraqi children per year are being sold into child trafficking rings, a growing crisis that is gripping Iraq. Iraqi children are being abducted by the scores on an annual basis, and are being sold both internally and abroad. Some of the bartered youngsters become sex abuse victims.
On April 6, The Guardian reported, “Criminal gangs are profiting from the cheap cost of buying infants and the bureaucratic muddle that makes it relatively easy to move them overseas. Accurate figures are difficult to obtain because there is no centralized counting procedure, but aid agencies and police say they believe numbers have increased by a third since 2005 to at least 150 children a year.”
One senior police officer reported that at least 15 Iraqi children were sold every month, some overseas, some internally, some for adoption, some for sexual abuse.
The paper continued, “Officials believe at least 12 gangs are operating in Iraq, offering between £200 and £4,000 per child, depending on its background and health. The main countries in which they are sold are Jordan, Turkey, Syria and some European countries including Switzerland, Ireland, the UK, Portugal and Sweden – One dealer, who asked to be called Abu Hamizi, said child trafficking from Iraq was cheaper and easier than elsewhere, given the readiness of underpaid government employees to help with the falsification of documents. We prefer babies but sometimes families request children from one to four years old but they are rare cases.”
A 2007 report by the NGO Heartland Alliance showed that traffickers regularly employed the threat or use of coercion, abduction, force, fraud, deception, abuse of vulnerability or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim.
One of the child traffickers told The Guardian that he heard one of the babies sold last year was used for organ transplants.
Why such desperation among the people of Iraq? It requires little imagination to understand their dilemma. The country was heavily bombed in 1991 by the United States, then bombed throughout the strangling twelve and a half years of economic sanctions-also led by the US, then invaded and beset with a torturous occupation now into its seventh year. The bright and shining promises of “reconstruction” and “rehabilitation” were, of course, simply part of the worst kind of propaganda used to justify an illegal act of aggression against a sovereign country.
The United States, like all empires through history, is raping and pillaging Iraq. What funds were available for reconstruction were often plundered by US soldiers themselves. Recently, The Los Angeles Times reported, “Some US troops tempted by reconstruction cash,” and that the Department of Justice is pursuing some “three dozen prosecutions” of soldiers and others involving bribery for “reconstruction” projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For example, 28-year-old Army Capt. Michael Dung Nguyen, who was also a graduate from West Point, “managed to skim more than $690,000 in cash as the civil affairs officer overseeing millions of dollars intended for reconstruction projects and payments to private Iraqi security forces northeast of Baghdad.” According to The Los Angeles Times, “at least 25 theft probes are underway.” And those are only the instances where someone was caught.
Liliana Segura wrote for AlterNet recently, “The money comes from the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), which has so far spent at least $2.8 billion in US funds. It is not tied to international standards of redevelopment or normal government purchasing rules. Instead, it is governed by broad guidelines packaged into a field manual called ‘Money as a Weapon System.'”
Segura points out that, according to The Los Angeles Times, “$3.5 billion in taxpayer money has been spent on the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, ostensibly on ‘humanitarian aid and community reconstruction projects’ as well as the practice of hiring Sunni gunmen, ‘often former insurgents, as security officers with the US-allied forces known as the Sons of Iraq.'”
Aside from funding ongoing Wall Street corruption in the form of so-called bailouts, this is another great use of US taxpayer money. While direct payments to the Sahwa by the US military theoretically ceased last October when the Sahwa were to be incorporated into the Iraqi military and police forces, payments morphed into another form – that of funding “reconstruction projects.” Thus, most of the Sahwa who are still being paid, albeit indirectly with US tax dollars, are the same Sahwa who are slowly melting back into the Iraqi resistance in order to resume attacks against US and Iraqi soldiers.
Everything becomes twisted, grotesque and inhuman amidst the bilateral psychosis that is war and occupation. This is how West Point graduates loot funds meant for providing aid to Iraqis. This is how your tax dollars are paying the men who are killing US soldiers in Iraq. This is how nothing touched by the vile, immoral, US occupation of Iraq is left unscathed.