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All Wrong: A Final French Takedown On The Iraq War

Op-Ed: This week marked a bad end to a bad war, which European critics of US policy had long predicted. The 2003 invasion left vast destruction, undermined America’s standing and deprived Iraqis of a role in their own history. Reverberations are still aro

Protests accompanied the nine-year war, like this one in 2007 (Andrew Ciscel)
Protests accompanied the nine-year war, like this one in 2007 (Andrew Ciscel)

PARIS – Nearly nine years after it began, the American intervention in Iraq ended this week. This war was a disaster.

The last soldiers have left, 500 men from the 1st Cavalry Division of the 3rd Brigade. They leave Iraq in poor condition, with many years still needed before the country gets back on the path to stability. And it will likely be even more years than that before the image of the United States can be restored in the region.

Nobody regrets the end of Saddam Hussein, one of the Middle East's bloodiest tyrants. The man who was chased from power by the American intervention in 2003 was responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who -- thanks to him -- had been plunged into years of wars both at home and abroad. Scattered across Iraq are common graves containing tens of thousands of bodies -- mass graves left over from the dark days of the Saddam era.

But the Iraqis didn't free themselves from Saddam's tyranny. The United States did not involve them in their intervention. There were no brigades of free Iraqis accompanying American troops when they entered Baghdad in April 2003. It was a foreign force invading the country that bunkered the American proconsuls who would go on to govern.

Iraq was deprived of part of its history.

From the very beginning of the tragedy, it was all wrong – not least the reasons given by George W. Bush for embarking on the adventure. Iraq had nothing to do either with al-Qaeda nor the September 11, 2001 attacks. The regime, drained after years of embargo, did not have arsenals containing weapons of mass destruction. Crazy too was the Promethean pretention that America could somehow Humvee its Jeffersonian democracy to the shores of the Tigris.

Connection to 2008 crash

Bush's war caused the death of some 100,000 Iraqis and 4,500 U.S. soldiers. Iraq has become a bit more democratic; it is freer. The country is governed by a pro-Iranian party constituted of majority Arab Shiites that marginalizes the Sunnite minority while the Kurds live in quasi-independence. Violence is endemic. One Iraqi in four lives in misery. The middle class has fled abroad. The status of women has regressed. And oil production has not yet reached pre-war levels.

The war cost the United States $750 billion. Mr. Bush didn't want to finance it by imposing a special tax, so he increased the nation's debt instead. The resulting destabilization of American public finances was part of what sparked the 2008 crisis.

Finally: the Iraq war used up resources necessary for the engagement in Afghanistan. So it is largely responsible for the deadlock of that other conflict.

What a huge waste.

Read the original article in French

Photo – Andrew Ciscel

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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