[pjw] REPORT BACK/FACTS: Iraq 15 Years Later: Forever War?

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Mon Mar 19 17:06:51 EDT 2018

PJW supporters
Though you may not notice it in most mainstream corporate news outlets, 
today marks exactly 15 years since the US invasion of Iraq. Let that sink 

On Friday, our cosponsorship of the PPRC Friday Rally led to the doubling 
of the usual attendance. We received a lot of the usual honks of support 
and thumbs-ups, but we also had at least three Iraq War veterans approach 
us with a lot of anger. The last one said he would have supported us if 
our picket sign said "End the Wars- Bring Our Troops Home" instead of "End 
the Wars- Bring Our $ Home," because he was a troop not some money. We do 
have such signs, they weren't there. We broke out into the "Out of Iraq- 
bring 'em back- troops home now!" chant but he was already on the Max 

We didn't get a lot of fact sheets handed out before the rain started 
coming down. Also, not surprisingly, no media coverage. But that's ok, 
hundreds of people saw us and had to think about our ongoing legacy of 
bombs, fractiousness and endless war.

Below is the content of the fact sheet we handed out. It is also online 
laid out with graphics and large headline for easy printing as a PDF at:

Thanks to all who helped make it happen!
dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group


Iraq 15 Years Later: Forever War?
March 16, 2018

Fifteen years ago on March 19, 2003, despite some of the largest protests 
in global history, the US invaded Iraq. Then-President George W. Bush 
began the invasion with a barrage of missile attacks nicknamed "Shock and 
Awe." Due to 13 years of US/UN sanctions, Iraqis at the time had limited 
access to electricity, medicine and food. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died 
in the invasion and subsequent fighting. And although the US declared 
"Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003, the war in Iraq continues today.

The first war in Iraq was the "Gulf War" that began in January 1991, which 
continued with the sanctions and bombings in so-called "No-Fly Zones." The 
invasion, which Congress approved in a 2002 Authorization for Use of 
Military Force, was designed to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Although 
that goal was accomplished, the 2002 AUMF remains in effect today and has 
been cited by the Trump administration as the reason the US was able to 
use military force against the Islamic State (ISIS). The fight against 
ISIS, arguably the third Iraq war, started in August 2014. The US claimed 
victory after the devastating "liberation" of Mosul, which caused the 
death of roughly 9000 civilians (Associated Press, December 20).

In late 2011, President Obama followed up on a pledge made by President 
Bush to withdraw US combat troops, but left about 500 military personnel 
there as "advisors" and to protect the US embassy in Iraq-- the world's 
largest. The fight against ISIS led that number to swell to roughly 9000 
under Presidents Obama and Trump, even though the US official tally was 
around 5000 (ABC, November 27), and the Pentagon's stance remained that no 
soldiers were engaged in combat. There are also almost 5000 "contractors" 
in Iraq (Army Times, January 16). In the efforts to push ISIS out of 
Mosul, the US damaged or destroyed all of that city's bridges -- imagine 
that happening in Portland. A formerly five minute trip reportedly took 
over two hours as of early 2018 (Agence France Presse, Janaury 1). Even 
with the reported defeat of ISIS in December, the US continues to support 
Iraqi forces, dropping bombs with conventional and drone aircraft 
("Friendly fire kills 11 in Iraq air strike," Reuters, January 27; 
"U.S.-led coalition warplanes kill 13 Islamic State militants in Mosul," 
Iraqi News, February 12), and about 4000 troops remain (Associated Press, 
February 5). NATO has also pledged to remain in Iraq (Al Jazeera, March 5) 
even though the Iraqi Parliament has asked all foreign forces to set a 
date to withdraw (Reuters, March 1).

The sanctions put in place against the late Saddam Hussein's regime in 
1990 included requirements for Iraq to repay Kuwait for their invasion of 
that country. Iraq still has to make payments despite its dire financial 
and political situation. Making matters worse, Donald Trump told NBC in 
January 2017: "We should've kept the oil when we got out"-- as if the US 
had the right to take Iraq's oil. The US initially made no promises to 
give money to Iraq's reconstruction after the defeat of ISIS (Reuters, 
February 8). The estimates of America's costs of the wars in Iraq and 
Afghanistan are about two trillion dollars, which doesn't include 
treatment for over 600,000 US veterans who are now listed as disabled 
(Lobelog, February 17). At least 4500 American soldiers and 180,000 Iraqi 
civilians (with an estimated 80,000 more Iraqi combatants) died as a 
result of the invasion and subsequent wars.

The US is currently engaged in active warfare in seven countries-- Iraq, 
Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Libya.* Various 
government activities and statements indicate possible military actions 
planned for Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and perhaps even Russia. The 
military budget proposed by President Trump is over $700 billion as he 
plans to cut social safety nets (Truthout, February 27). Our 
infrastructure is crumbling, schools are cutting important programs (but 
considering using scarce funds to arm teachers), and thousands of people 
have no homes or health care in what is supposedly one of the wealthiest 
nations on earth. It is far past time to reduce America's footprint in the 
Middle East by downsizing the US Embassy in Baghdad and bringing all the 
troops home now!

* Peace and Justice Works also notes that March 19 marks seven years since 
the US attack on Libya unleashed turmoil in that country.

This flyer was prepared
in March, 2018 by the
Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
iraq at pjw.info
(503) 236-3065
Contact us about our meetings !
Meetings usually 2nd Mondays, 7 PM; next one is April 9.

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