Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Long-Term Human Cost of the Iraq War

The AP (via WaPo) reports on a tragedy that has remained way too under the radar here (as has, for that matter, anything at all about Iraq, except for the push to keep thousands of troops there, to protect "American interests"):

A study released Sunday by a global humanitarian aid organization concluded that three out of every five widows in Iraq lost their husbands in the years of violence that followed the 2003 invasion.

The study by Los Angeles-based Relief International found that about 10 percent of the estimated 15 million women who live in Iraq are widows. Among them, 59 percent have lost their husbands during the U.S.-led war.

The study warned that criminal gangs and terrorist groups might try to recruit desperate widows, and that ignoring their suffering could lead them to prostitution, drugs and terrorism.

“The Iraqi state has neglected the widows with their enormous problems, and the solutions lie in the establishing of bodies to take care of and solve the problems of these women,” the report said.

The report was released at a conference in Baghdad where parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi pledged to help widows through job opportunities, salaries and loans to help them start small businesses.

“The misery of those widows has an impact on the whole society,” al-Nujaifi said. “This catastrophe is growing, and its danger will threaten our values.”

In a small room in eastern Baghdad where she lives with her four children, widow Wafiya Hussein said she depends on relatives’ donations to keep her family alive. Her husband was killed in a Baghdad explosion in 2009 as he was heading to work.

“I receive no assistance from the government, and I cannot work due to my illnesses,” said Hussein. 41, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.

“Our situation is difficult,” she said, pleading for government support to help raise her children, including a crippled son.

Also underreported - and forgotten - in the US: the impact of Mr. Bush's Iraq adventure on Iraq's children - killed, maimed, disfigured, emotionally traumatized, forced into exile, their educations interrupted or terminated, their lives ruined.  Even, of course, as the McCain-Lieberman-Grahams boast of how we've "liberated" them

Speaking of which . . . more liberation on the docket?  In Salon, Trita Parsi describes the GOP push for US action against Iran.

In spite of the Republicans' recent gains, the candidate that stands the greatest chance of defeating Obama 2012 is Obama '08. Instead of running away from his record and betraying the foreign policy values he promised to bring to the White House in 2008, Obama should restate the case for diplomacy and point out its benefits and virtues, including the superiority of diplomacy in addressing Iran's flagrant human rights violations. And point to Iraq to remind the American public of the unacceptability of failure when it comes to diplomacy.

As Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told me recently in a sharp reminder of what the end game of the hawks is: "If diplomacy fails and the economic sanctions fail, [then] everybody understands that all options are on the table."

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