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Defending and Advancing Liberty a.k.a. Deprivation

Defending and Advancing Liberty a.k.a. Deprivation

By Patricia L Johnson

6,733 Reasons To Vote is a commentary written approximately one year ago. The 6,733 represented the number of casualties our military incurred, to date, in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

We all remember President, George W. Bush, standing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 giving the speech that began "Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed....."

It didn’t matter that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction and had no part in the September 11 attack on this country. Nothing mattered except we did it! We toppled the statue of Saddam, we sent the bad guys running for cover and we are good to go! We accomplished our mission and we are going to bring Liberty and Justice to all!

If we were filming a John Wayne movie we might be able to take that position and live happily ever after. The problem is this is not a movie; this is real life with a real war with dead and wounded soldiers and civilians on both sides.

We don’t bother counting the Iraqi dead or wounded because what’s the big deal? They’re the enemy and how many records can the U.S. be expected to keep? Are we accountants, or are we liberators? We can’t be bothered with the number of enemy casualties, nor can we be bothered with the number of civilian casualties because that’s just part of the sacrifice that the Iraqi people are simply going to have to make in order to enjoy their newfound liberty and freedoms courtesy of the Superpower!

Besides, who would ever know how many casualties there are? The CIA World Factbook shows estimates of populations in foreign countries, so if the estimate is reduced by a million or so what’s the big deal? Who would know? Who would care? Besides if we dig a few more ditches and bury the bodies we can always blame Saddam - he’s the one on trial, right?

Our leaders want us to believe that we are making improvements in the lives of the Iraqi people and the papers are filled with one accomplishment after another and stories about how pleased the Iraqi people are with everything coalition forces are doing to improve their daily lives.

The real story is that we are now, and have been, hurting the people in Iraq by our presence and the people in Iraq will continue to suffer until coalition forces are removed.

“Baghdad Fire Leaves Millions Without Water” is an Associated Press story released on July 1, 2005. According to the director of the water project, Jassim Mohammed, the fire started after insurgents set off a bomb. According to municipal officials, the blast may have been due to an exploding transformer and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Both parties agree that the fire affected the Karkh water station in Tarmiyah, which provides water to both northern and western Baghdad. The temperature in Baghdad at this time of the year is approximately 100 degrees, and several million people in Baghdad will be without water for three days waiting for spare parts to be delivered and repairs to be made.

The situation in Baghdad is so distressing that Mayor Alaa Mahmoud al-Timimi has threatened to resign due to the daily suffering of the 6.45 million people residing in his city. Two years after George W. Bush claimed Mission Accomplished the people in Baghdad are still suffering bombings, kidnappings and serious shortages of basic services like water, electricity and fuel.

In some areas of Baghdad the water supply is foul smelling because sewage is mixed with the water and according to Mayor al-Timimi “The problem is excalating,”

While Iraqi’s enjoyed 20 hours of electricity per day under Saddam Hussein, they now have to try to cope with a total of 10 hours per day of electricity usually received in two hour increments.

Iraq has the second largest proven oil reserves in the world, but is not able to refine a sufficient amount of oil; therefore are being forced to import gasoline for their own use. Long lines are not uncommon in a country that had more than a sufficient supply of gasoline before ‘liberation’.

But, hey…. the people in Iraq should not complain. They are safely cuddled in their coalition security blanket, aren’t they?

Well, not if you pay attention to the travel warnings coming out of the U.S. State Department.

The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq, which remains very dangerous. Remnants of the former Baath regime, transnational terrorists, and criminal elements remain active. Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the International (or "Green") Zone. Targets include hotels, restaurants, police stations, checkpoints, foreign diplomatic missions, and international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel. These attacks have resulted in deaths and injuries of American citizens, including those doing humanitarian work. In addition, there have been planned and random killings, as well as extortions and kidnappings. U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and several were subsequently murdered by terrorists in Iraq. U.S. citizens and other foreigners continue to be targeted by insurgent groups for kidnapping and murder. Military operations continue. There are daily attacks against Multinational Forces - Iraq (MNF-I) throughout the country.

There is credible information that terrorists are targeting civil aviation. Civilian and military aircraft arriving in and departing from Baghdad International Airport have been subjected to small arms and missiles. Civilian aircraft do not generally possess systems, such as those found on military aircraft, capable of defeating man-portable, surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS). Anyone choosing to utilize civilian aircraft to enter or depart Iraq should be aware of this potential threat, as well as the extremely high risk to road transportation described below. Official U.S. Government (USG) personnel are strongly encouraged to use U.S. military or other USG aircraft when entering and departing Iraq due to concerns about security of civilian aircraft servicing Iraq. Due to safety and security concerns, U.S. government personnel are not authorized to travel commercially on Iraqi Airways. Currently, U.S. government personnel are only authorized to travel commercially on Royal Jordanian Airlines.

All vehicular travel in Iraq is extremely dangerous. There have been numerous attacks on civilian vehicles, as well as military convoys. Attacks occur throughout the day, but travel at night is exceptionally dangerous. Travel in or through Ramadi and Fallujah, travel between al-Hillah and Baghdad, and travel between the International Zone and Baghdad International Airport is particularly dangerous. Occasionally, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from traveling to select areas depending on prevailing security conditions. There continues to be heavy use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and/or mines on roads, particularly in plastic bags, soda cans, and dead animals. Grenades and explosives have been thrown into vehicles from overpasses, particularly in crowded areas. Overland travel should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary and with the appropriate security.

The U.S. Embassy is located in the International Zone. The Embassy can provide only limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq. At present travel to and from the International Zone is extremely limited. The U.S. Embassy does not provide visa services to the general public. American citizens who choose to visit or reside in Iraq despite this Travel Warning are urged to pay close attention to their personal security, avoid crowds, especially rallies or demonstrations and to inform the U.S. Embassy of their presence in Iraq.
- Source: U.S. Department of State – Iraq Travel Warning – June 28, 2005

When U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from traveling due to security concerns it might be safe to make the assumption that no one else can travel safely.

During his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Bush said “We pray for the families who have lost a loved one in freedom's cause. And we know that the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission, so we will stay in the fight until the fight is won”.

The number of casualties this time last year was 6,733 – the number of casualties this year is 15,635 [as of 10:00 a.m. on the morning of July 1, 2005], or an increase of 8,902 casualties. The 6,733 represents total casualties from the beginning of combat (March 19, 2003 through July 9, 2004) which consists of 478 days of combat, or an average of 14 American soldiers killed or wounded per day.

During the period from July 10, 2004 through July 1, 2005, consisting of 356 days of combat, there was an average of 25 American soldiers killed or injured per day or an increase in the number of casualties of 79% per day. If the number of U.S. casualties has increased by an incredible 79% per day, over the past year, who do you think is winning the war?

President Bush has consistently asked Americans to support the troops. And how are Americans supporting our troops over the holiday? AAA just announced that Americans will set an all-time record of miles traveled over the three-day holiday. The price of oil and gasoline may be at an all-time high, but that's not going to keep Americans home. Support the troops by traveling that extra mile this weekend. And while you’re traveling that extra mile remember that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, but he did have a country full of oil – oil that is desperately needed by this country due to the fact that we use more than twice the amount we are able to produce.

U.S. Petroleum Production for the year 2000 was 7.74 million barrels per day, while U.S. Petroleum Consumption for that same year was 19.13 million barrels per day. Be assured, when the latest report is released, consumption numbers will increase, not decrease.

The 3.6 billion dollar Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline was partially completed on May 25, 2005 when officials began filling the pipeline with oil. This 1,100 mile pipeline will hopefully alleviate some of our dependence on Middle East oil. The pipeline begins in Azerbaijan and travels through Georgia and Turkey enabling the transport of oil from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish port of Ceyhan in the Mediterranean Sea. When fully operational the pipeline will be able to transport one million barrels per day. As you will note by the thin green line on the map, the Ceyhan terminal is also used to transport oil from the Iraq.

BP (formerly British Petroleum) merged with Amoco in 1998 and now owns 30.1% of the BTC pipeline, while other U.S. companies own the following percentages: Unocal 8.9%, ConocoPhillips 2.5% and Amerada Hess 2.36%

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration

So while you’re traveling that extra mile this weekend and complaining about the exorbitant price of fuel, remember the cost of U.S. fuel doesn’t end at the gasoline pump.

Click for big version

Source: U.S. Department of Defense


© 2005 Patricia Johnson
Patricia Johnson is a freelance writer residing in North America.
Articles and Answers ( CAO, Richard E. Walrath, contributed to this commentary.

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