By Ursula Rozum, SPC Staff
SPC Statement on the US Withdrawal from Iraq
The Syracuse Peace Council eagerly anticipates the return of U.S. service members from the war in Iraq. As an organization that opposed the Iraq War before it was launched, we feel it is long overdue.
However, we want a complete withdrawal. We call for: No U.S. troops in Iraq. No U.S. mercenaries in Iraq. No U.S. military hardware or bases in Iraq. Especially, we call for the end of the air war over Iraq — no depleted uranium, no Chinook helicopters, no Reaper drones, no Hellfire missiles, no white phosphorous, no cluster bombs.
Nor should any puppet government be left behind. For any real healing to begin, we must fully remove ourselves from this scene of our crimes.
This past century teaches that no war truly ends. Its consequences endure and multiply. The Iraqi people — the widowed, the orphaned, the amputated, the heartsick, the displaced, the driven mad — will continue to suffer long after the last U.S. soldier leaves.
Despite our departure from that lacerated land, our responsibility to the people of Iraq remains. We must provide reparations for the wounds we have inflicted. Dollars cannot compensate for the lives lost and devastated infrastructure. Nonetheless, we must give our utmost. For millennia, Iraqis have been builders; we must get out of their way and provide economic support to enable them to rebuild their country and their lives.
The deep economic recession we are experiencing leads some to believe that we should cut foreign aid. However, economic reparations for Iraq can easily be paid with a small fraction of the enormous budget that has been allocated to the U.S. military without competing in the slightest with human needs at home.
It is telling that U.S. troops aren’t being kicked out of Iraq; instead, that nation’s government has refused to extend immunity to U.S. troops. They wish to hold U.S. troops accountable to Iraqi law if they were to remain. What does it say about the conduct of the U.S. military that we only want to maintain a military presence in a place where we can’t be held responsible for our actions?
What can we learn from the disaster of the Iraq War? There are 4,482 U.S. service people dead, 32,213 U.S. troops wounded, a total economic cost of over $3 trillion, according to Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda J. Bilmes. The extent of the carnage to Iraqis is unknown because our government didn’t want to count.
We must break out of our bubble of chauvinism, uncritical thinking and mindless consumption. We must shun the lies that draw us into war. We must remember what happened in Iraq and use it to prevent a new attack on Iran.
We must also embark on the overdue reparation of ourselves. We must end our worship of violence. We must mend our hearts that tolerated so long what we did to the Iraqi people. We must fully support the healing of our soldiers who, maimed in body and soul, must continue to live out their days knowing what we have done. And we should hold accountable those who used lies to lead us into war with Iraq in the first place.
We must convert our war-besotted economy to one that profits from life, not death. We must dismantle our bloated military. To stop subverting and invading more oil lands, we must break our addiction to oil. We must leave not only Iraqi children, but our own, a planet free of the destitution and killing that threatens to engulf them.
Ursula Rozum, for the Syracuse Peace Council