Troops in Iraq:
after Bush asked the US taxpayer to pick up the 2003 tab for his war in Iraq,
Paul Krugman of the New York Times described Bush as "all take and no
give, as usual." (1)
was writing about the $87 billion that George W. Bush and our spineless
Congress is ready to gouge out of US taxpayers. He was also pointing his finger at the foreign cannon fodder the
American government desires.
foreign armies are currently serving in Iraq?
Let's examine one of the two multi-national divisions that have been
deployed in Iraq, the one near the city of Najaf. Bush administration spokesmen brag about how this division of
8000 soldiers is commanded by a Polish general, Major General Andrzej
Tyszkiewicz, and has representatives from 17 countries.
the division is polyglot. A few phone
calls to various UN missions produced the following numbers: At the top of the list is Poland with 2500
soldiers, next comes a Spanish contingent with 1300 from Spain and 1250 from
Central America. The Central American
soldiers break down to include 346 from Honduras, 370 from El Salvador, 300
from the Dominican Republic and 193 from Nicaragua. In addition, Bulgaria is contributing about 500 troops. Towards
the bottom of the pile -- in terms of numbers -- is Mongolia with 150
recruits. The remaining soldiers are
provided by the Ukraine, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania, Kazakhstan,
Thailand and the Philippines.
a division in which, at least, 17 languages are spoken. I say, at least, because probably a good
percentage of the soldiers from Central America speak Amerindian dialects. And who knows what dialects the Philippine
contingent speaks? Tagalog? Cebuano?
Ilocan? What about the Kazakhs? Do they speak Turkish or Mongol?
on earth is the command structure? How
do these troops communicate with each other, much less the Polish commander or
the American commander? Aren't soldiers that can't communicate with one another
or with their captains and generals sitting ducks?
these troops serve any meaningful role - other than providing President Bush
with propaganda for TV appearances?
are these unfortunate examples of cannon fodder selected in their countries of
origin? Usually, they'll be the
poorest, most disadvantaged members of society. They're probably drafted or, if they enlisted, they did so for
similar reasons to so many of our own hapless troops - out of economic
do these poor recruits see their deployment in an Arab country thousands of
miles from home?
they've been fed the company line: we're bringing "freedom" and
democracy" to Iraq, as well as "liberating" it from terrorists.
the type of "democracy" and "freedom" the US brought to a
few of the countries in question one can well imagine what these draftees think
and feel about being a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
is now common knowledge, in Nicaragua the US, using its client army, the
Contras, crushed the popular Sandinista regime. The brutal civil war lasted 8 years during which a staggering
30,000 people - mostly impoverished peasants - died.
the US perverted the national elections in 1990. Via the CIA-front, the National Endowment for Democracy, the US
helped organize and fund the opposition party, UNO.
and millions of US dollars poured into UNO's coffers. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (hardly a radical outfit)
estimated that the pro-UNO funds were so lavish that the rough equivalent in a
US election would have been $2 billion. (2)
added boost to UNO was the loud threat repeatedly made by spokesmen for the
then-President, George Herbert Bush: if the war-weary populace didn't vote in
UNO, the US would continue to fund the Contra war against the Sandinistas. Another penalty for not supporting UNO? The US would continue the disastrous
economic embargo of Nicaragua. (3) This threat Noam Chomsky has described as
"Vote for our candidate, or watch your children starve." (4) Needless to say,
Nicaraguans chose to feed their children.
do Nicaraguan soldiers feel about defending "freedom" and
"democracy" in Iraq?
about the recruits from El Salvador? What do they think about the
"freedom" the US previously brought to El Salvador? I doubt they've forgotten how the US-trained
and advised death squads that massacred, tortured and disappeared thousands
over the 12-year long civil war in El Salvador.
were an estimated 75,000 civilian deaths during El Salvador's long agony. (5) This in a country
with an overall population of about 6 million!
do the El Salvadorans feel about their assigned task of making the US look good
by showing up in the incredibly dangerous, powder keg of Iraq? (The troops were sent to Iraq despite the
intense opposition in the El Salvadoran Assembly by FLMN party members.) (6)
about the Honduran soldiers in the international division? Honduras is one of the poorest countries in
the Western Hemisphere with a staggering debt of $5.4 billion and annual
revenues of $607 million. Half of the
countries revenue goes to service this debt. How do the mestizos (who make up
90% of the population of Honduras) feel about risking their lives for US's
many of these Hondurans remember that the US, courtesy of the School of the
America's training of the infamous Battalion 316, previously wrecked brutal
atrocities, including just about every imaginable form of terrible physical and
psychological torture, on the campesinos? (7)
this pattern only apply to the Western Hemisphere where US has long manifested
its ugly Manifest Destiny policies?
about the Bulgarian contingent in Iraq?
How do Bulgarian soldiers view the US's version of
"democracy," considering that the US toppled their duly elected
1990, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) spent $1.5 million in an attempt
to defeat the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
This is another huge amount of money pouring into a small country with a
population of about 7.5 million.
in the case of Bulgaria, the US's first attempt to snatch the elections away
from the Socialists did not work. The
Socialist Party won, but the NED was not deterred. Immediately after the elections this CIA-front went to work: they
promoted and funded a six-month destabilization effort. This included street demonstrations,
strikes, sit-ins, sieges of parliament and, eventually, the prime minister was
forced to resign. (8)
about the brave soldiers from far flung Mongolia? What has been their experience of US "democracy"? Surely the US did not also have its mitts in
the electoral till there? Wrong. Again
the NED entered the election fray and between 1990-1996 spent $2 million
dollars on a country of 2.5 million people to defeat the Mongolian People's
Revolutionary Party. (The US wanted to
have free access for such things as electronic listening posts to monitor
Chinese army communications.) (9)
list could go on and on.
outrage of the US President trotting out his Orwell-speak and explaining how
the US mission in Iraq is about "democracy" and "freedom"
is bad enough.
US government's twisting the arms of various corrupt regimes to send in their
poorest and most needy human beings to this bloody meat-grinder is bad enough.
(The arm-twist - done with a smile - is promises and threats regarding debt
relief, IMF loans, military hardware, NATO or EU membership, among other
carrots and sticks.)
US, a draft-free country, asking foreign-language speaking, impoverished
peasants and workers to be drafted and then sacrificed to spare Bush and other
mainly white US politicians the political upset of too many US casualties is
worse than bad. It's truly obscene.
Mina Hamilton is a writer
based in New York City. She can be
reached at email@example.com.
(1) Krugman, Paul,
"Other People's Sacrifice," New York Times, September 9, 2003
(2) Chomsky, Noam, Deterring
Democracy, (Hill and Wang,1991), p. 299
(3) Blum, William, Rogue
State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, (Common Courage, 2000), p.
(4) Chomsky, op. cit,
(5) Blum, op.cit., p.
(6) www.Cispes.org, "Stop US Intervention in
(7) Blum, op.cit., p.
(8) Ibid, p. 157
(9) Ibid, p.177