Veterans for Peace has just released the following statement:
With the 10-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq behind us, the task lies before us of preventing the next one.
The Iraq war, like all wars, was launched on the basis of false answers to false questions. We are now being told to ask whether Iran or Syria has weapons, as though possession of weapons were grounds for bombing a nation, and as if we've learned nothing.
The Iraq war, like all wars, was launched by people who wanted war. War is never the last resort. We are now being told that war with Iran must come, and the best we can do is delay it. But this next war is being chosen, and it is not too late to make a different choice.
The sanctions we are imposing on Iran are killing and hurting the people of Iran, but only strengthening the resolve of their government. The funding and training of terrorist groups like the MEK makes war more likely. The U.S. Senate's efforts to effectively give the Israeli government the power to declare war for the United States (with Senate Resolution 65) makes war more likely. The gift of billions of dollars in weapons to Israel made by the U.S. government every year makes war more likely. The ongoing outrageous funding of U.S. war preparations at a rate far exceeding the Cold War or the Vietnam War makes war more likely. The false rhetoric about the history of Palestine delivered by President Obama only antagonizes those suffering from U.S. actions. The failure of Congress to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq and its 2001 predecessor makes war more likely. All of these policies can be changed.
U.S. support for brutal human rights abuses in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, increased CIA operations in Iraq, and threats made against Iran in violation of the U.N. Charter, all make U.S. statements about concern for the lives of Syrians ring false. The degradation of human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan under U.S. occupation make claims that concern for women or homosexuals motivate missile strikes uncredible. The ongoing U.S. military presence and increased drone strikes in Western Asia work against prospects for peace. And, fundamentally, the decision of the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress to pursue various possibilities for war, but none for peace, makes war far more likely. Peace is not just restraint from the last step into deeper war. Peace takes work. Peace takes investment. Peace requires planning. Right now all the plans are being made in the other direction.
The Iraq war, like all wars, was far more damaging than we have been told. U.S. deaths, over 4,000, have been a national disaster. Veterans with traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorder, and major depression number in the hundreds of thousands. But U.S. deaths are 0.3% of the deaths. By the most scientifically respected studies available, we know that Operation Iraqi Liberation (its original name) killed 1.4 million Iraqis, above the extremely high death rate of 2003, which followed the worst sanctions in modern history and the longest bombing campaign. That's 5.4% of the Iraqi population killed, a higher percentage and a higher number than the United States lost in its Civil War, or than Japan, France, the U.K. or the U.S. lost in World War II.*
Over 4 million additional Iraqis have been wounded, and over 4 million made refugees. Iraqi infrastructure remains in ruins, its environment poisoned, cancer and birth defects skyrocketing, health and education and nutritional resources in tatters. Sectarian divisions, created by the war, are only growing. Terrorism, created by the war, is only rising. Iraq is unstable, unprosperous, undemocratic, and absolutely unable to serve as a model to justify another war of preemption or liberation.*
Former speech writers, pundits, museums, and text book writers are beautifying the war. Former President George W. Bush is about to be honored at the opening of his library (which protesters are calling the Lie Bury). It's our job to make sure that awareness of lies about war is not buried. It's all of our responsibility to speak to our friends and neighbors about past wars until future wars become unthinkable.
Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
*Statistics drawn from this report: http://warisacrime.org/iraq
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