As we mark eight years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. President Obama’s promise to remove all US troops and bases in December can begin to end a twenty-year history of conflict between the two countries. The harsh US policy towards Iraq began in August 1990, with comprehensive economic sanctions imposed following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and continued during the 2003 invasion to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. The clear result has been a senseless loss of life and the devastation of a country rich in oil reserves.
Tell your community that the lesson of Iraq is that war is not the answer. Write a letter to your local newspaper.
These decades of conflict have ignored developing diplomacy in favor of military strategies that have inflicted so much suffering on the Iraqi people and taken a huge toll on US soldiers as well. Through our eight-year occupation, a more insidious toolkit has been developed that professes to limit civilian casualties but based on the aggressive use of force. Consider:
- Arming unmanned drones (spy-planes) have become the weapon of choice for targeted assassination.
- Adopting the use of torture, most notably in Abu Ghraib prison, has corrupted the US morally.
- Pitting tribal, ethnic and sectarian groups against each other – the ‘colonial’ tactic of divide and conquer – is creating more internal violence.
But there is another way.
Non-military options can work. Popular movements demanding change have proven to be the best antidote to oppression and militarism. We have witnessed this over and over again - in Lebanon in 2005, in Tunisia and Egypt this year, where people are demanding their economic and human rights.
The contrast of the US military strategy for change and a people-centered movement for change could not be starker.