On the 10th Anniversary of the Disastrous War on Iraq, We Must Learn from and Not Repeat Our Mistakes
At a recent meeting in Washington to discuss overall peace movement strategy moving forward (more on that soon!), our colleague and friend Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies agreed to write a brief statement on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. war of aggression on Iraq. We signed on as did a number of esteemed colleagues, and The Nation published it a few hours ago. I urge you to read and circulate the whole piece, it’s not long. It begins thusly:
“It didn’t take long for the world to recognize that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq constituted a dumb war, as then Senator Barack Obama put it. But “dumb” wasn’t the half of it.
The US war against Iraq was illegal and illegitimate. It violated the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and a whole host of international laws and treaties. It violated US laws and our Constitution with impunity. And it was all based on lies: about nonexistent links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, about never-were ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, about Iraq’s invisible weapons of mass destruction and about Baghdad’s supposed nuclear program, with derivative lies about uranium yellowcake from Niger and aluminum rods from China. There were lies about US troops being welcomed in the streets with sweets and flowers, and lies about thousands of jubilant Iraqis spontaneously tearing down the statue of a hated dictator.
And then there was the lie that the US could send hundreds of thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars worth of weapons across the world to wage war on the cheap. We didn’t have to raise taxes to pay the almost one trillion dollars the Iraq war has cost so far, we could go shopping instead.
But behind these myths the costs were huge—human, economic and more. More than a million US troops were deployed to Iraq; 4,483 were killed; 33,183 were wounded and more than 200,000 came home with PTSD. The number of Iraqi civilians killed is still unknown; at least 121,754 are known to have been killed directly during the US war, but hundreds of thousands more died from crippling sanctions, diseases caused by dirty water when the US destroyed the water treatment system and the inability to get medical help because of exploding violence.”
Also writing on this anniversary for Time magazine, former Sane/Freeze Executive Director and Peace Action Education Fund board member David Cortright, now with the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for Peace, warns against the possibility of another disastrous military attack, this time on Iran, as many misguided warmongers currently advocate. Unfortunately, 63 U.S. senators already are co-sponsors of a resolution pledging U.S. support for Israel should it attack Iran. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has gone so far as to send letters to constituents with the erroneous information that Iran has a nuclear weapons capability. Apparently he thinks he knows something the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is carrying out ongoing inspections in Iran, and the U.S. intelligence community, which not only says Iran lacks such capacity but also has not made a decision to pursue nuclear weapons capability, don’t know.
The facts are this – Iran has no nuclear weapons, while Israel has at least a few hundred.
Negotiations with Iran are currently somewhat promising, so President Obama would do well to ignore this unsolicited “advice” from the Senate.
Lastly, David’s colleague at Notre Dame, Mary Ellen O’Connell, succinctly outlines the case that an Israeli attack on Iran over concerns about its nuclear program would be illegal, published on the Syracuse University Law School’s website.
On this sad anniversary we must acknowledge the huge debt we owe the people of Iraq, while foreswearing making the same mistake again.