Patrick Cockburn i The Independent:
American forces leave behind a country which is a barely floating wreck. Its society, economy and very landscape have been torn apart by 30 years of war, sanctions and occupation. I first came to Iraq in 1977 when its future looked rosy, but it turned out I was visiting the country at the high tide of its fortunes, a tide that has been ebbing ever since. Iraqis have been engulfed by successive disasters: the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war starting in 1980; the defeat in Kuwait in 1991; the bloodily suppressed Shia and Kurdish uprisings the same year; UN sanctions amounting to a 13-year-long siege which ruined the economy and shattered society; the US invasion of 2003; the Sunni Arab war against the US occupation in 2003-7 and the Sunni-Shia civil war over the same period.
How many other countries in the world have endured such traumas? Is it any surprise that Iraqis are so heavily marked by them? The Iraqi government announces proudly that in May 2009 only 225 Iraqis died from war-related violence, a lower figure than we have seen in any month for at least four years. Of course this is far better than the 3,000 tortured bodies which used to turn up every month at the height of sectarian war in 2006-7.