war in Iraq by no means ceased on May 1 when President Bush announced
the end of major hostilities. It simply entered a new and ominous phase.
It is the war that keeps on killing.
it keeps on killing American troops. As long as U.S. body bags keep
piling up, this war is not over. The death toll for American soldiers
is steadily mounting. Last summer an AP article stated that attacks
on U.S. forces were occurring "almost hourly – too frequent
for military press officers to keep up with," and the situation
has not improved. Our soldiers are still being killed on the average
of 1.2 per day. More troops have now died in the second phase of this
war than during the first. There are 355 confirmed coalition deaths.
An even greater number will live permanently disabled. The question
is urgent, When will our troops come home?
this war keeps on killing civilians, and especially children. Nearly
10,000 innocent civilians perished in the first phase of this ill-considered
war, along with perhaps 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, many of whom were teenage
conscripts. Today Iraq exists in a humanitarian crisis. The rate of
child mortality – among the highest in the world during the past
12 years – has grown even higher. The country is so lacking in
stability that aid agencies like the International Red Cross, Save the
Children, and Oxfam have evacuated their workers. This move, virtually
unprecedented, came in the wake of a series of disasters last summer
that began with the attack on the Jordanian embassy and culminated with
the murderous bombings of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and a mosque
in Najaf. These and other catastrophes suggest that the occupation forces
do not control the country – and that their days are numbered.
"Local Iraqis Take Joy in Attack on US Convoy in Khaldiyah"
is only a recent sign of more such headlines to come.
know that our government and military officials grossly underestimated
the problems they would face in conquering and occupying Iraq. They
were prepared to take care only of what was most important to them.
Baghdad's Ministry of Oil was quickly secured while the museums were
ransacked, the universities destroyed, the bureaucracies reduced to
rubble, the police forces dismantled, the hospitals crippled, and the
libraries torched. An alienated population and ever-increasing guerrilla
warfare loom large upon the horizon. The terrible quagmire we are entering
is matched only by the depth of denial in Washington. Our government
needs to swallow its pride, for the good of all concerned, and follow
the advice of France and Germany by turning Iraq's reconstruction over
to the United Nations. To call France and Germany our enemies, as certain
pundits have done, is like calling someone an enemy who takes car keys
away from a drunk.
that antiwar critics said about Iraq has turned out to be true. Before
the invasion they voiced their concerns that Iraq posed no imminent
threat to the United States, that it was not directly linked to the
war on terrorism, that an invasion might make the terrorism problem
worse, that there was no international coalition supporting the war,
and that there were other ways to contain Saddam Hussein. Now the United
States, with no real allies inside the country, has months, not years,
before it is forced out in defeat, if it persists down its current path.
The situation could unravel into chaos at any time. Above all, every
death in this war is unnecessary, because the war was unnecessary.
critics were also correct to charge that the case for the war was based
on a pattern of distortion and deception. After five months of occupation,
no weapons of mass destruction have been found. That Iraq possessed
chemical and biological weapons which could be launched in just 45 minutes
has been exposed as a fraud, one that threatens to bring down Tony Blair.
The scare perpetrated by President Bush that Iraq had imported uranium
from Niger which could be used for nuclear weapons was based on forged
documents; their worthlessness was known at the time by U.S. intelligence
but ignored by the administration. The innuendo, repeatedly made by
the administration, that Saddam Hussein was linked to September 11 has
only recently been retracted now that it has served its purpose. The
one about his alleged ties to al Qaeda awaits retraction. Not surprisingly,
a large percentage of the American public still believes these toxic
myths. Yet their falsehood, now more widely recognized, was demonstrated
repeatedly prior to the war which they did so much to validate.
who say it doesn't matter if no weapons of mass destruction are found,
because at least the world has been rid of a vicious dictator, there
is an obvious reply: Yes, Iraq is better off now that Saddam is gone
– with his prisons, his tortures, his secret police, and his killing
fields. Yet as even conservative columnist George F. Will has acknowledged,
this argument is not good enough. He writes:
is unacceptable to argue that Hussein's mass graves and torture chambers
suffice as retrospective justifications for pre-emptive war."
unacceptable because there are actually about 70 other regimes in this
sorry world as dreadful as Saddam's, and we cannot go to war against
them all. Above all, it is unacceptable because when waged against against
a nation crippled by 12 years of sanctions and posing no imminent threat
to our own, "pre-emptive" war is little more than a crime
book just published, Winning
Modern Wars, Gen. Wesley Clark reveals that in November 2001
a senior U.S. military officer told him that the administration's plan
for invading Iraq was part of a broader five-year military campaign
aimed at seven countries. After Iraq, the plan called for targeting
Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.
the war was illegitimate, the U.S. has no legitimacy in trying to dictate
the shape of reconstruction. Above all, it has no right to turn Iraq
into a staging ground for new "pre-emptive" wars. Therefore:
new UN resolution should be opposed which simply serves to legitimate
the U.S.-UK occupation. No countries should send troops or funds that
would merely "internationalize" the existing foreign rule.
after the occupation has ended should the United Nations return to Iraq
with multinational peacekeeping forces. Its mandate should be restricted
to a very short and defined period. Its goal would be to assist Iraq
in reconstruction and to oversee the election of a governing authority.
humanitarian needs of Iraq must be met, as international law requires,
by the belligerent powers that initiated the war and now occupy the
contracts awarded to U.S. corporations by the administration without
competitive bidding must be revoked. Rampant crony capitalism with corporations
like Halliburton, which is positioned to receive $7 billion over the
next two years, must be abandoned in favor of support for indigenous
Iraqi businesses and expertise.
plans to establish four permanent military bases in Iraq from which
future wars can be launched must be blocked.
depends, in short, on wresting the reconstruction of Iraq away from
the militarists and the profiteers.
cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek has suggested that Americans suffer from
"a will to ignorance." A will to ignorance implies a troubled
conscience. If our government kills and impoverishes people to maintain
global dominance, we don't want to hear about it because it hurts. For
the churches this means that America desperately needs preaching that
will help it to face its flaws, heal its wounds, and bring it to change
its values. Dr. James A. Forbes of the Riverside Church in New York
City has recently annnounced a series of lectures on just these themes.
One hopes that they will soon be published.