Thursday, September 11, 2008

Iraq: what's changed?

The security situation has improved, but as the smoke of conflict clears, the full human cost of the Iraq occupation comes into view

Jonathan Steele, Wednesday September 10 2008

"Back in Baghdad for the first time this year, I was consumed by the issue of change. What's different, I would ask almost every Iraqi I met. "What about you, what do you see that's new?", they would query in their turn. So here, in a few paragraphs, is a summary of my answers. Some things have changed for the better, others for the worse.....

Finally, one has to mention the enormous legacy of human misery which the invasion and five years of occupation unleashed. Is it worse than a year ago? Has anything changed here? Probably not, but as the prospect of a US troop reduction gains strength whoever wins the White House in November, the full toll of disaster comes more clearly into focus.

The impact of the recent short-term improvements makes it easier to comprehend the medium- and long-term tasks ahead. A country with more than a million widows, where barely half the children go to school (because of displacement, continuing security fears, and teacher shortages), with drastic scarcities of electric power and water, and an eighth of its people living abroad, many of them those with the best education and the most needed skills, is not going to get back on its feet any time soon.

To view Sean Smith's devastating film reportage about the occupation of Iraq, including the frank testimony of the US soldiers with whom he was embedded and who were engaged in heavy fighting in Sadr City and Shulla, go here."

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