The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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War in Iraq continues amid truth and consequences

Four years after the invasion, the Bush administration’s efforts to create a democratic society in Iraq – following the declaration of war on terror – has not led to the results the American government hoped for, but instead has created a civil war, harming the U.S. military and opening the possibility of creating a larger conflict, said CSUN political science professors.

Mehran Kamrava, a professor and specialist in Middle Eastern Studies at CSUN, said President Bush admitted the mistakes and overall lack of clear direction regarding the war in Iraq.

The U.S. policy toward Iraq has placed the country in a civil war and it has created a sense of dislike toward the American troops, Kamrava said.

“In many ways there is a breakdown of the Iraqi society whereby the simplest and most mundane activities become an act of heroism,” Kamrava said. There is a strong sense of “deep animosity and resentment against American troops.”

Since the U.S. invaded Iraq, the situation for Iraqis has only become worse. Along with the struggle to survive, for many of them, war and death has become part of a daily routine, Kamrava said.

“The average Iraqi is not experiencing life as normal as anyone else would, because life is now unfolding under (the) ominous and bloody shadow of war,” he added.

President Bush gave orders to occupy Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein in March 20, 2003. Hussein was captured on Dec. 13, 2003. The war did not stop, however. Since the invasion, social tensions between two major groups, Shiites and Sunnis, have come to the surface, resulting in a civil war.

“Sectarian violence … wasn’t a problem before because Saddam Hussein was a Sunni and the Shiite majority of the county was suppressed,” said Christopher Shortell, assistant professor of political science at CSUN.

Since the removal of Saddam from power, the Sunnis fear that the Shiites will retaliate for the many years of repression, Shortell said.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq is 3,197 and the number of wounded soldiers is about 23,000 as of March 16, 2007.

The total number of Iraqi civilians who have died as a consequence of the war is still unknown, but a project called Iraq Body Count has estimated a minimum of 58,908 who have been reported killed and a maximum of 64,729.

The American government finds itself in an unexpected situation in this war. They did not anticipate the conflict lasting for four years, Kamrava said.

“Certainly they did not anticipate the intensity of the insurgency, the casualties, the difficulties that the U.S. military has encountered in Iraq and the after-care that the soldiers are receiving,” Kamrava said.

Kamrava said the U.S. government has failed in providing proper care standards for wounded soldiers because the infrastructure is not prepared to receive such high numbers.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 18 the poor conditions of the facility and lack of proper care given to the returning injured soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“Funding and healthcare for the soldiers has not been a priority of the government. That’s why the conditions of the Walter Reed were as bad as they were,” Shortell said.

Shortell added the only way the U.S. government can afford to pay for better healthcare for the soldiers is to cut down on the amount of equipment that is used daily on the battle fields.

Jabbar Magruder, a 24-year-old junior medical physics major, said the Bush administration must provide better care for the soldiers because they are sacrificing their lives for their country.

Magruder, who served in Iraq as part of the Army National Guard for about a year as a helicopter mechanic, said he has seen his fellow soldiers return home with post traumatic stress disorder and other crippling injuries that keep them from returning to their normal lives.

Magruder said things have not changed since he left Iraq in 2005, and that the only way this conflict can stop is by immediately withdrawing the troops from Iraq.

“The insurgency is not going to stop as long as the occupation is there,” said Magruder, who might be redeployed next year. “The occupation only injures the people from Iraq and they’re not going to become more democratic because more troops are there.”

Magruder said the conditions in Iraq are deplorable and he constantly observed the aftermath of war. He often saw pieces of vehicles and Iraqi homes burning.

“Sometimes you realize that somebody’s kid, somebody’s spouse, somebody’s parent is going to get a letter saying (their) relative is not coming back,” Magruder said.

Despite having to work “12-hour-shifts for nine days straight,” Magruder considered himself lucky to be able to return home. However, he disagrees with the conditions the soldiers have to endure for their second or third redeployment.

“Soldiers over there are overworked and under-paid, and it’s time to come home,” he said.

Shortell said the probability of pulling soldiers out of Iraq any time soon is very unlikely as long as Bush is in office.

Internationally, there is a possibility the conflict could grow out of Iraq since the Sunnis hold friendly relations with countries like Saudi Arabia and the Shiites are allies with Iran, Shortell reasoned.

“You have a potential for a larger regional conflict to happen. The Sunni and Shiite conflict could expand to the rest of the region,” Shortell said. “That would be a bad outcome so we have to figure out what we can do to try to minimize that outcome.”

Shortell said that the Iraq situation does not have an immediate answer. Even if the Democrats win the presidency on 2008, there would not be a dramatic change, he said.

“We would continue in Iraq for a substantial number of years, and we would keep reducing the level of casualties little by little,” Shortell said.

However, Kamrava said a solution to the war in Iraq is to replace the American troops with help from other United Nations countries, such as Malaysia, Nigeria and Pakistan while slowly reducing the number of U.S. soldiers and encouraging the Iraqi people to take initiative over their own country and politics.

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