On the day that Britain remembered the July 7 attacks that killed 52 people, the same number of Iraqis died in a series of attacks against Shia pilgrims across Baghdad.
If we extrapolate from the lowest estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths since 2003 -- 96,872 according to Iraq Body Count -- then Iraq has endured 9/11 more than 32 times, or 7/7 more than 1,800 times in the last seven years.
Iraqi trainee Doctor Lubna Naji explained to me how residents of Baghdad have learned to adjust to 24/7 bombings:
Our methods of adapting to it have changed over time due to what I call "emotional numbness"... Before, I used to cry bitterly and get really angry and frustrated, but now after seven years I just pretend that it never happened, maybe because we're actually too tired and sick of it all -- you know, of all the continuing mess and madness, or maybe because if you react as a normal human being every time it happens you'll lose your will to go on with your day-to-day life, so you just pretend that it never happened. Is that normal? No of course it's not, but we have no other choice.
As happened in Britain five years ago, Iraqis experience regular attacks against their public transport infrastructure. Buses and bus stations have been targeted, while plans by the previous government to build a mass transit system that could be bombed in future have stalled along with coalition talks.
While the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2006 was linked to a heavy focus on Iraq, the reverse scenario may be occurring today; the Iraq war is largely perceived as over despite continuing violence. Indeed, away from the story of continued U.S. drawdown, serious talk of a UN force having to secure the north of the country has barely registered in the public domain.
We should be clear that the Iraq war is far from over and the real ramifications are felt not in the air-conditioned rooms of the Chilcot inquiry, but rather by the shock waves of the bombs in Baghdad.
The key to the perception of "victory" in Iraq is that while there is still violence in the country, it is considered an acceptable level of violence -- far away from the bloody peak of the civil war. While this is indeed true, and any defender of the record of the surge will refer to the massive reductions in killings, these statistics are relative, and those who argue that "we removed Saddam Hussein and now the people of Iraq can enjoy a better future" must recognize the unacceptability of present levels of violence and the danger that this poses for Iraq's future.
The myth of acceptability creates a real danger of people becoming comfortable with the levels of violence in the country. Reduced media coverage and public interest in Iraq is a reflection of the success of the "surge" in creating the narrative of victory, which contrasts with the unacceptable bloody reality in the "new" Iraq.
It is in the ignored aftermath of conflict that the genesis of future calamity lies. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Iraq reaffirmed Washington's commitment to reducing US forces to 50,000 by next month, as well as Barack Obama's tactical distancing of himself from the issue. Yet it has been more than four months since the March 7 elections and, as ICG Iraq expert Joost Hiltermann wrote, as politicians dither, "Iraq's insurgencies could get a second wind, again making violence the primary mode of politics".
This is a real possibility. The legacies of the Iraqi insurgency and its al Qaeda hybrid unleashed by the invasion continue to shape the country. The easy supply of explosives has combined with suicidal tactics to a devastating effect. In his work on the strategic logic of suicide terrorism, Professor Robert Pape chronicled all global suicide attacks between 1980 and 2003 -- a total of 315 attacks in all. Since the invasion of Iraq, rough estimates show that there have been some 1,659 attacks in Iraq alone.
As we remember those who died on 7 July we should not forgot the living legacy of bloody violence that is lived by Iraqis in the new state that we helped to create.
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