As violence in Iraq escalates and hawks beat the drums of war, people on the ground in Iraq and across the U.S. are urging the Obama administration: don't go down the same path of military intervention that created the current crisis.
Public Opinion vs. War Hawks
According to a poll released Tuesday, 74 percent of people in the U.S. are against sending combat troops into Iraq. Rather than allowing that overwhelming opinion to shape the narrative, corporate media has given platform to the same hawkish voices who called for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Among the vocal proponents of using U.S. military might are Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The two issued a statement last week calling for "U.S. air strikes, among other military and intelligence actions and additional support for our Iraqi partners."
"We reject US intervention and protest President Obama's inappropriate speech in which he expressed concern over oil and not over people."
—Falah Alwan, Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq
In an op-ed published Tuesday, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuval asked, "Can someone explain to me why the media still solicit advice about the crisis in Iraq from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? Or Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)? How many times does the Beltway hawk caucus get to be wrong before we recognize that maybe, just maybe, its members don’t know what they’re talking about?"
Emerging Calls Against War
Not receiving as much media attention are the calls to halt military intervention—by the U.S. or any party—that will claim further lives and further shred Iraqi society.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), who issued the only congressional vote against the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq War since before it started, issued a statement on Friday, which read, in part:
The ongoing crisis in Iraq is the tragic product of President George W. Bush's unnecessary and unjust 2003 invasion. The response must not be more military action, but a political process led by the Iraqis and representative of all Iraqis.
As the President has so eloquently stated, our military cannot solve all crises. The future of Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqi people.
The U.S. must continue to pursue international and regional engagement, recognition of human rights and political reforms in order to promote the long term national stability and the reconciliation necessary to address this complex problem.
"Those of us who were there know first hand that US military solutions in Iraq do not serve the interests of the Iraqi people." —Iraq Veterans Against the War
I think [the U.S.] should leave [Iraq], not to intervene, end the war in Afghanistan, and pull out their forces, and let the Arabs and the countries of the area solve their problem.
Peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed while serving in the Iraq war, wrote:
The USA’s allegiance to Empire and absolute devotion to war is hurting everyone, even the jingoists who proclaim, “support the troops,” loudly while vets are dying waiting to get health services from the V.A.
Bottom-line, we should stop stoking the flames of Empire with the fuel of our own flesh and blood.
Iraqi-American political analyst Raed Jarrar told Democracy Now! on Monday:
We have heard so many different words describing U.S. military interventions in Iraq and the region. And whatever you name it, I think, from the Iraqi perspective, this will be yet another example of a U.S. military strike on Iraq that will not be a part of the solution. The U.S. has been bombing Iraq since 1991, so it’s been 13 years of bombings, bombardments, or like 23 years if you count all of the years of the sanctions. And none of these campaigns were ever a part of a solution. The U.S. has historically been a part of the problem. So I think if the U.S. were to attack Iraq yet again, this will add another layer of complexity. It will make the situation inside Iraq worse, and it will threaten the U.S. interests in the region and the world, because the U.S. will become an active participant in this very bloody conflict.
"The response must not be more military action, but a political process led by the Iraqis and representative of all Iraqis."
—Congresswoman Barbara LeeFalah Alwan, President of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, wrote in an op-ed published at Jadaliyya that "the will of the Iraqi people remains ignored." He continues:
We reject US intervention and protest President Obama's inappropriate speech in which he expressed concern over oil and not over people. We also stand firmly against the brazen meddling of Iran.
We stand against the intervention of Gulf regimes and their funding of armed groups, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
We reject Nouri al-Maliki's sectarian and reactionary policies.
We also reject armed terrorist gangs and militias' control of Mosul and other cities. We agree with and support the demands of people in these cities against discrimination and sectarianism.
Finally, we reject the interference of the religious institution and its call for indiscriminate warfare.
We aim to stand with those who represent the interests of the people and to empower them in the face of this dangerous and reactionary attack. We call for a clear international position to curb the deteriorating situation as well as regional interference, and to support the people of Iraq.
As Sami Ramadani, a senior lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University, wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian, the U.S. played a key role in stoking the sectarian divides that are fueling the current conflict:
The most serious sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq's modern history followed the 2003 US-led occupation, which faced massive popular opposition and resistance. The US had its own divide-and-rule policy, promoting Iraqi organisations founded on religion, ethnicity, nationality or sect rather than politics. Many senior officers in the newly formed Iraqi army came from these organisations and Saddam's army. This was exacerbated three years ago, when sectarian groups in Syria were backed by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Call for Action
Iraqi civil society group Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) has put out call for donations to assist emergency efforts to relocate people residing in their women's shelters. According to a statement by MADRE, which is partnering on the effort, the funds will go to efforts to "provide emergency relocation, food and shelter to the women in the safe houses." Yanar Mohammed, president of OWFI, recently stated, “This sudden turn of events is devastating. What we need to do now is protect ourselves and our sisters.”
"Beyond security, well being comes from housing, healthcare, and vibrant community." —War Resisters League
CODEPINK is urging people across the United States to contact President Obama and demand "no more weapons shipments, no airstrikes, no US troops." Win Without War has put out a similar call urging supporters, "Tell President Obama: Don’t Bomb Iraq!" Numerous organizations are circulating petitions opposing another U.S. war in Iraq, including Credo and Just Foreign Policy.
Some have taken to the streets, joining CODE PINK in an emergency rally on Monday in front of the White House:
IVAW released a statement Tuesday declaring:
Many of our members deployed to Iraq during the recent US occupation. Those of us who were there know first hand that US military solutions in Iraq do not serve the interests of the Iraqi people. We advocate for the self-determination of all people, in this case the people of Iraq. Any solution to this crisis must come from them.
A statement from the War Resisters League urges "NO to continued war in Iraq!":
The solution has already begun in the difficult and powerful work of common survival, healing, connecting, rebuilding, and dreaming that conditions the lives of many Iraqis and grows hope for a future beyond war. Beyond security, well being comes from housing, healthcare, and vibrant community. Liberation from violence and fear grows from equality and democracy.
To limit our action to the terms and timelines dictated by war-makers is a trap. To be part of the solution we must deepen our solidarity with people whose work leads us beyond the cynical terms of what we are told is possible, instead we must heed the urgency behind their insistence in realizing the world we need.