NYACK, New York – As the death toll of young Americans in Iraq passes the 2,000 mark, the Fellowship of Reconciliation joins millions of Americans in mourning the tragedy of these young lives sacrificed to a vain, greedy and deceitful war. Even as we observe this solemn milestone, we also remember and mourn the more than 200 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan, in service to the same mendacious goals, and the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died at our hands, or at the hands of the brutal insurgency we spawned.
Let us remember that the war against Iraq was prosecuted not to liberate the country from a cruel dictatorship (albeit one that was periodically supported by U.S. administrations), or to preempt an Iraqi attack on its neighbors or the United States, but to secure control of strategic petroleum resources. In a profoundly tragic sense, this is a war for oil and the sacrifice of lives – American and Iraqi – has been in vain.
True democracy can never be imposed upon a nation, nor can it grow from the barrel of an invader’s gun. True democracy must come from the will of a people and their civil society to create political and economic relationships that build on their own culture and history, while expanding both human rights and collective security. The political arrangement evolving in Iraq as a result of the U.S. war is neither democratic nor just. And the continuation of this U.S. occupation only strengthens the resolve of a violent Iraqi resistance to it.
While we grieve the loss of 2,000 American lives, we must hold President George Bush and his administration responsible. These troops would not have perished if the Bush administration had not deliberately lied about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and supposed Iraqi complicity in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or concealed long-standing American plans for an invasion that had nothing to do with the abominable regime of Saddam Hussein.
Nor can we allow the memories of these fallen soldiers to be dishonored or desecrated by the false notion that patriotic honor requires acquiescence in the war. Rather, we insist that true patriotic duty demands that this war end immediately, and that U.S. forces be withdrawn from Iraq.
Recent polls show that almost 60 percent of Americans now believe this senseless and immoral war was a mistake. For the sake of the war dead, and the countless more human lives at risk, we must reach out to those millions of Americans and ask them to help us build a fitting memorial to the fallen: A world in which armed violence is never an acceptable option.