4 years later: Let's leave the Iraqis alone, shall we?

It’s time for the Iraqis to cease their bloody sectarian rivalries, disband their ruthless militias and death squads and take responsibility for their country’s fate. Why should American boys continue dying to save Iraqis from their own perverse selves?

It’s a view expressed by all sides in the U.S. four years after the 2003 invasion. The problem is it shows no understanding of Iraq’s nightmarish past and calamitous psychological present.

Take, for instance, the report of a group of Harvard medical researchers who found that the children of Iraq were “the most traumatized children of war ever described.” The experts concluded that “a majority of Iraq’s children would suffer from severe psychological problems throughout their lives.” (Additional citations for this material are in my book, “Web of Deceit: The history of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush.”)

That appalling judgment was rendered not recently but sixteen years ago, in May 1991. Consider what Iraqis had already endured at that point: From September, 1980 to August, 1988 more than a million Iraqis and Iranians died in what was the longest war of the twentieth century. As that conflict raged, Saddam also launched his genocidal attacks against the Kurds —which Presidents Reagan and Bush Senior–then Saddam’s de facto allies against Iran–did their best to ignore.

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