Obama’s Iraq — Just a New Packaging for the Same Occupation

The Obama administration announced recently that troops in Iraq are withdrawing from the country and that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is finally ending after seven and a half years. But when we look at the reality of the U.S. presence in Iraq, it becomes clear that the Obama administration has no intention of actually ending the occupation of Iraq.

After Obama’s supposed withdrawal of combat troops is completed this month, 50,000 US troops will still remain in Iraq, stationed at 94 military bases. These troops will be doing the same exact thing they are doing now — suppressing any resistance to the U.S. occupation. Only now they will be called advisors instead of troops.

The Obama administration also plans to outsource more of the fighting and dying. The administration wants to increase the number of armed mercenaries stationed at its bases and embassies from 2,700 to 7,000. These armed mercenaries are individuals who work for private security corporations that have contracts with the U.S. government. Currently, there are approximately 11,000 armed mercenaries in Iraq.

The armed mercenaries that will take the place of departing troops are part of a overall presence of private contractors that the U.S. has hired to provide everything the occupation needs — from janitorial and food services on its bases, to drivers for supply trucks, to private soldiers. After this month’s troop reduction, there will still be over 100,000 private contractors working for the U.S. occupation.

Many of the private contractors in Iraq will provide services on the U.S. military bases throughout the country and its massive embassy in Baghdad. The Baghdad embassy alone is staffed by over 4,000 people and is almost four times the size of the U.S. Pentagon. Its 21 buildings include six apartment buildings for workers, its own water and power stations, and a movie theater. In addition to this embassy, the U.S. will continue to operate 94 bases throughout Iraq. Some of the bases, like the Baghdad embassy, are enormous structures that include all of the features of a modern city, including their own transportation systems. Some of these bases have been recently renamed “enduring presence posts.” The U.S. also plans to build several more base-like structures throughout the country; some will be called consulates others will be branches of the embassy.

Obama’s so-called withdrawal from Iraq is not an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It is an attempt to fool us into believing the war is over by repackaging the occupation under a different name.

Costs of War in Iraq

Working people will be paying the financial costs of this war and continued occupation for a long time. Here is just a small glimpse:

  • Estimated total cost of War: $1 trillion
  • Cost per soldier in Iraq: $1 million per year
  • Cost to keep 50,000 soldiers in Iraq: $50 billion per year
  • Construction Cost of U.S. Embassy in Iraq: $3.5 billion

Cost of Next Year in Iraq

  • Iraq war spending for 2011 ($51 billion) could pay:
  • 782,542 Elementary School Teachers for one year
  • 6,481,243 Scholarships for University Students for one year
  • 5,862,435 people with housing for one year.

Human Costs in Iraq

No matter what the administration tries to call the occupation, the fact of the matter is that Iraq has been devastated in the last seven years.

  • Over one million Iraqis have been killed since 2003.
  • Five million Iraqis have fled their homes and become refugees in Iraq or other countries.
  • 60 percent of Iraqis are unemployed.
  • 28 percent of Iraqi children are malnourished.
  • Most Iraqi homes receive only one or two hours of electricity per day
  • Only 37 percent of Iraqi homes have working sewer systems.
  • 70 percent of Iraqi homes have no clean water.