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The Only 'Success' in Iraq is that U.S. Troops Are Leaving

Contrary to what you're likely to hear from the political and media establishment, the only thing worth celebrating is this war's end, not what it accomplished.

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More than 4.7 million Iraqis were forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, with 2 million forced to leave the country entirely. Many Iraqi women, three million of whom are now widows according to their government, were forced into lives of prostitution, with one refugee telling The New York Times that if "they go back to Iraq they'll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available."

More than 4,400 U.S. soldiers also needlessly died in a war based on lies, from bogus tales of Iraq's ties to al-Qaeda to claims about non-existent weapons of mass destruction that were easily debunkable at the time - had anyone in a position of power been interested in doing so.

Today, Iraq is ruled by a new strong man who has used his security forces to ethnically cleanse Baghdad, gun down non-violent protesters and torture dissidents. According to Transparency International, only three other countries in the world are more corrupt than Iraq - Afghanistan, Myanmar and Somalia - and unemployment is rampant, with nearly one in three men between 15 and 29 out of work.

It might be comforting to think an immoral invasion can have a happy, heroic ending, but that's a dangerous delusion. As Americans, we should wish nothing but the best for the people of Iraq - but we should also acknowledge that, if the country finds peace and prosperity, it will be in spite of what the U.S. government did to their country, not because of it.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK:Women for Peace .

Charles Davis ( is an independent journalist who has covered Congress for public radio and Inter Press Service.

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