[pjw] REPORT BACK/FACTS: War of Lies: Why are US Troops Still in Iraq?

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Wed Mar 20 16:00:06 EDT 2019

Iraq Affinity Group supporters

At yesterday's action to mark 16 years since the invasion of Iraq, a small 
but stalwart crew set up the Tower of Peace at the east end of the 
Burnside Bridge with signs saying "US Out of Iraq." The wind tried to 
knock the tower over a few times but we managed to keep it from falling.

We were able to hand out roughly 100 fact sheets to those among the 
thousands commuting over the bridge (and walking by). Below is the content 
of the fact sheet; it is also online laid out with graphics and large 
headline for easy printing as a PDF at:

Please share widely!

Thanks to all who helped make it happen, to Stand for Peace and Justice 
for hosting us (that group actually began their weekly vigil 5 years ago 
after we did a similar action marking 11 years in Iraq), to Portland 
Peaceful Response Coalition and the other cosponsors.

dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group


War of Lies: Why Are US Troops Still in Iraq?
March 19, 2019

On March 19, 2003, following some of the largest protests in global 
history, the United States launched a military campaign dubbed "shock and 
awe," then sent in troops to invade and occupy  the country of Iraq. After 
thirteen years of some of the most stringent sanctions in history, Iraqis 
had limited access to electricity, medicine and food, problems which still 
persist sixteen years after the invasion. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died 
in the invasion and fighting both at the hands of the US coalition and 
militant groups emboldened by the destabilization of the nation. Although 
the US declared "Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003, the war in Iraq 
continues today.

Beginning with the "Gulf War" in January 1991, continuing through the 
invasion in 2002 and the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria 
(ISIS) which began in August 2014, the US has never really stopped its 
attacks in Iraq. In 2002, Congress approved an Authorization for Use of 
Military Force, designed to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Although 
that goal was accomplished, the 2002 AUMF remains in effect today and was 
used to justify the war on ISIS. The US claimed victory after the 
"liberation" of the Iraqi city of Mosul in late 2017, which caused the 
deaths of roughly 9600 civilians (Associated Press, December 20, 2017). 
Despite the defeat of ISIS, the US has no plans to withdraw its roughly 
6000 troops from Iraq.

In February, President Trump declared that US troops would stay in Iraq in 
order to "watch Iran," prompting a backlash from the Iraqi government. 
While President Barham Salih did not object to the US presence to "fight 
terrorism," he noted that Iraq seeks good relations with Iran and told the 
US not to "overburden Iraq with your own issues" (The Guardian, February 
4). When Trump visited American bases at Christmas 2018 without a 
customary meeting with the Prime Minister (Reuters, December 26), it 
provoked the Iraqi parliament to seek ways to expel all US troops 
(Kurdistan 24, February 10).

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. In the efforts to push ISIS out of 
Mosul, the US damaged or destroyed all of that city's bridges and hundreds 
of homes. The "good news" is that while in 2017, the year of the mass 
bombing of Mosul, 36,898 people were killed in Iraq, "only" 7201 were 
killed in 2018 (Antiwar.com, January 1). So far in 2019, at least 663 more 
people have been killed or found dead (Antiwar.com, February 1 and 28). 
That means just since 2014, 197,766 people were killed in war-related 
violence in Iraq-- equivalent to almost 1/3 the population of Portland.

Not all the news is bad, though: In December, the "Green Zone," the area 
that includes the US embassy, was opened to the public for the first time 
in 15 years at the direction of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (Al 
Jazeera, December 22). Abdul-Mahdi moved his own offices outside the 
compound in October in an effort to be "closer to the people" (Associated 
Press, October 25).

Nonetheless, the drop in the world's oil prices means that rebuilding Iraq 
in the wake of the sanctions, invasion and the war on ISIS is becoming 
more difficult, as Iraq's deficit climbed to $22 billion in late 2018 
(Associated Press, January 1).

The control of the world's oil was one of the main reasons the US attacked 
Iraq in 1991, though ostensibly to eject Saddam Hussein's troops from 
Kuwait. 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. Now the 
US is setting up Venezuela to be the next Iraq, demonizing the elected 
President Nicolas Maduro and trying to provoke a military conflict, 
bypassing the United Nations to send in humanitarian aid (Reuters, 
February 6). Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves, more 
than Saudi Arabia, Iran or Iraq.

A seventeen year old war continues in Afghanistan, where Trump said he 
would withdraw troops soon-- but now the military is giving a timeline of 
five more years (The Hill, February 28). Trump also said he would pull US 
troops out of Syria, which without Congressional, UN or Syrian approval 
were supposedly there to defeat ISIS, but backtracked under pressure and 
has now agreed to  leaving 200-400 military personnel there (NPR, February 
22, and NBC, March 5).*-1 The US continues to support Saudi Arabia and the 
United Arab Emirates in their war on Yemen, even with the House having 
voted to end such support in February and the Senate in March-- not to 
mention the international outrage at the Saudi murder of journalist Jamal 
Khashoggi. Since Trump took office, the US has tripled its airstrikes in 
Somalia from 14 to over 40 per year (The Nation, February 25). And while 
the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan have gone down precipitously-- 
the last one reported was in mid-2018 (Radio Free Europe, July 4), there 
have been 550 such strikes in Libya since 2011 (the Intercept, June 

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, 
2018). At least 4568 American soldiers and 183,000 Iraqi civilians (with 
an estimated 100,000 more Iraqi combatants) died as a result of the 
invasion and subsequent wars (icasualties.org and Iraq Body Count, March 

The US is also engaged in diplomatic conflicts indicating they could start 
wars in Iran, North Korea and maybe Russia. The military budget proposed 
by President Trump is over $750 billion as he plans once again to cut 
social safety nets (National Priorities Project, March 12). Supposedly one 
of the wealthiest nations on earth, America's infrastructure is crumbling 
and thousands of people have no homes or health care. Join Peace and 
Justice Works in the call to bring all the troops home now!

* -1 On the other hand, it was reported in March that the US transferred 
weapons and vehicles from Iraq to Syria in late 2018 (Al Monitor, March 

* -2 Peace and Justice Works also notes that March 19 marks eight years 
since the US attack on Libya unleashed turmoil in that country.

This flyer was prepared
in March, 2019 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 8.

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