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After Two Years, Americans Need to Demonstrate Against an Insane and Destructive War
Published on Monday, March 14, 2005 by Working for Change
Two Years Out
After Two Years, Americans Need to Demonstrate Against an Insane and Destructive War
by Geov Parrish
 

Two years ago this week, the United States launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq.

It is pointless, at this juncture, to rehash the reasons why the invasion was launched: except to note that democracy didn't figure into it. For public consumption, of course, there were the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and the nonexistent links between Saddam and Al-Qaeda and 9-11; privately, of course, there was oil, the chance to enrich friends through privatization, the geopolitics of the Middle East and the "we're the boss" message intended for the world.

None of it can excuse what has happened in the last two years.

The so-called "liberation" of the people of Iraq has resulted, according to the conservative estimates of the British medical journal Lancet, in the deaths of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians in the last two years. The entire population of Peoria. Gone. Most of them women and children. That's out of only 24 million people in Iraq; an equivalent loss in the U.S. would be 1.2 million people, the population of Dallas or San Diego.

Four hundred World Trade Centers.

Everyone in Iraq knows somebody who has died. Most families have been touched. The war, meanwhile, has tormented everyone. From one city alone, the entire population of Fallujah, 400,000 -- minus the deaths -- are now homeless or refugees. The health care system is in crisis; it cannot handle the sick and wounded. Unemployment is endemic, reaching 70 percent. The economy is in tatters. Reconstruction is at a standstill (and the money appropriated for it is disappearing down well-lined pockets of Bush Administration friends.) Electricity is available perhaps a couple of hours a day. Prisoners continue to be randomly arrested and abused. People cannot leave their homes; the security situation in much of the country is a nightmare: not only the war's random shootings, car bombs, and IEDs, but the roving criminal gangs nobody has the power to curtail.

One hundred thousand dead.

Among Iraqis, America gets the blame for this. We should have, in their minds, gotten rid of Saddam, secured the peace, and then left Iraqis to govern themselves. Instead, we tried to set it up as some sort of colonial outpost, trying to ensure that any election would only be among trusted exile puppets who would do Washington's bidding. The vast majority of Iraqis want the U.S. out. Now. They see it as the only practical way to stop the bloodshed, the war, the madness: remove the target of American troops and an American-run government, and the reason for the insurgency will evaporate. Naturally, the Bush Administration will do no such thing.

But that doesn't stop people from hoping, and it is in this context that the Jan. 30 elections must be understood. Iraqis -- Shiites and Kurds, anyway -- voted because they saw the elections as a last nonviolent opportunity to force Dubya into a timetable for withdrawing troops. This has been a firm stance of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's United Iraqi Alliance, the slate widely expected to get a majority in the elections.

But the UIA didn't get a majority, a result that Scott Ritter, Dahr Jamail and others have charged (and many Iraqis believe) is the result of cooked returns. Six weeks out, there has still not been a new government formed between the UIA and the second-place Kurds. Kurds are negotiating for the presidency, and for the inclusion of the major city of Kirkuk in the Kurdish Autonomous Region. They want, ultimately, an independent Kurdistan -- something Turkey (among others) will never allow. Meanwhile, negotiations between the Kurds and Shiites over a new government threaten to shut out the Sunnis, who already comprise the bulk of the insurgency -- a prescription for civil war.

In other words, it's a mess, and getting worse. The bombings and shootings continue to increase; the suffering continues to increase. Amazingly, many Iraqis now pine for the un-liberated days of Saddam. They are clear on one thing: the United States must go. Even civil war, they say, would be preferable to the current nightmare.

The Iraqi war has its costs in the United States, too: soldiers killed, or maimed physically or mentally. Anecdotal evidence already suggests a new Gulf War syndrome, more pervasive, caused, perhaps, by the heavily-used depleted uranium shells. PTSD, spousal abuse, and even suicides are common among returning soldiers.

But this isn't about Americans. It's about the suffering (aka "liberation") of the people of Iraq, who, after 35 years of a brutal dictator, 20 years of war, and 10 years of crippling economic sanctions, had already suffered quite enough.

People in Iraq need to know that people in the U.S. oppose this war. That, as much as any changing of Bush Administration minds, is why the demonstrations scheduled across the country next weekend are so important. Go. Make your voice heard. Remember that war is not an abstract game. Remember that democracy cannot be installed at the barrel of a gun. Remember that this country belongs to us -- not to a tiny neocon cabal.

And remember the 100,000 dead. And counting.

For more information on the upcoming anti-war protests, go to http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=2688.

© 2005 Working Assets

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