[pjw] FACTS: Iraq 18 years after the invasion

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Fri Mar 19 16:30:18 EDT 2021

Iraq Affinity Group supporters
I usually send out the text of our fact sheets after our events are over 
and as part of a report back.

Since I'll be sending out a report back on tonight's rally as part of our 
ongoing weekly report "system," and though that may end up being somewhat 
duplicative of this fact sheet, I wanted to share with you the content of 
the fact sheet we'll have at today's event.

You can also find it laid out with graphics at:

To be honest, at least 25% of this is continued from last year's fact 
sheet, but most of it is up-to-date including the adventures of President 

Feel free to share with others!
dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group


IRAQ: Still Recovering 18 Years After the US Invasion 
March 19, 2021


March 19 marks eighteen years since the United States launched a massive 
military campaign of "shock and awe," killing thousands of people in Iraq, 
then invading and occupying the country. The 2003 US invasion and 
occupation was based on the knowingly false information presented by the 
George W. Bush administration alleging that Iraq possessed weapons of mass 
destruction. Members of Congress, including then-Senator Joe Biden, voted 
to authorize war. After the invasion, no WMDs were found. As part of an 
agreement by Bush, President Barack Obama withdrew troops in 2011, only to 
send more back in to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ("ISIS") in 
2014. In early 2020, President Trump deeply damaged US-Iraq relations by 
using a drone to assassinate Iranian General Soleimani and an Iraqi 
militia leader inside of Iraq. The Iraqi parliament voted to demand the US 
leave their country. In late January 2021, the US killed an Islamic State 
leader in an airstrike, making Joe Biden the sixth consecutive US 
President to bomb the country of Iraq.

Before the invasion, from 1990-2003 Iraq was subjected to some of the most 
stringent sanctions in history, resulting in limited access to 
electricity, medicine and food. Limits were put on the sale of Iraqi oil, 
its chief export, and likely the main reason the US continues to stay in 
this country of 38 million people. President Trump famously stated that 
the US should have taken Iraq's oil after the invasion. President George 
HW Bush decimated much of Iraq's infrastructure in the 1991 "Gulf War." 
President Bill Clinton initiated airstrikes in so-called "no fly zones" and 
launched attacks on Baghdad in 1998. The problems of providing basic 
necessities to all Iraqis still persist as a result of the US invasion and 
occupation, leading to ongoing protests inside Iraq, as well as violence 
by militant groups emboldened by the destabilization caused by the war. 
George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003, but the war 
in Iraq continues today, with 2500 troops remaining in the nation despite 
the Parliament's vote. The US also owns a heavily fortified compound in 
Baghdad--featuring the world's largest embassy.

Andrew Jones, a legal expert from Coventry University. noted that while 
international law allows a country like Iraq to invite foreign troops on 
their soil, "there are rules on when a state overstays its welcome and 
becomes in breach of its international obligations." Jones said that the 
refusal to leave is a violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations 
charter (The Conversation, February 6, 2020).

The war has also spilled outside the borders of Iraq. Initially, President 
Obama ordered airstrikes and ground troops in Syria as a response to the 
rise of ISIS. Though Trump pledged to remove those troops, the US left at 
least 200 there to "protect Syrian oil fields."  After an attack on a US 
compound that killed one contractor, President Biden launched an attack on 
a militant group in Syria, killing 22 people on February 26 (Agence France 
Presse, February 27). Another attack in early March prompted Secretary of 
Defense Lloyd Austin to declare that "We demand the right to protect our 
troops." There seems to be no recognition that if the US had never invaded 
Iraq, no American troops would be getting attacked.

In 2002, Congress approved an Authorization for Use of Military Force 
(AUMF), designed to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Although that goal 
was accomplished, the 2002 Authorization remains in effect today and was 
used to justify the war on ISIS. The House of Representatives voted 
236-166 on January 30, 2020, to repeal the 2002 AUMF, with 11 Republicans 
joining Democrats. In 2021, particularly following Biden's airstrike on 
Syria, there is renewed bipartisan talk of repealing that AUMF (Politico, 
March 3).

In late 2011, Obama followed up on a pledge made by G.W. Bush to withdraw 
US combat troops, but left about 500 military personnel there as 
"advisors" and to protect the US embassy. That number went back up to 
about 9000 for the fight against ISIS 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, causing the deaths of roughly 
9600 civilians (Associated Press, December 20, 2017). In 2017, the year of 
the mass bombing, 36,898 Iraqis were killed. In the following three years, 
fewer than 10,000 per year died due to ongoing warfare (Antiwar.com). So 
far in 2021, at least 358 more people have been killed or found dead 
(Antiwar.com, February 1 and 28). Overall, just since 2014, over 200,000 
people were killed in war-related violence in Iraq-- equivalent to almost 
1/3 the population of Portland.

The cost in lives for the United States has been far less, but that is not 
to minimize the deaths of the 4586 Americans who fought and died in this 
war. The cost to US taxpayers in dollars has been extremely high, with at 
least $1.992 trillion spent in the first 17 years of warfare (The 
Conversation, February 4, 2020). That money alone could go to bolstering 
this country's medical capabilities for emergencies like the coronavirus.

It is clear the US wants to stay in Iraq to control the oil resources not 
just in Iraq, but in the entire region. The 1991 war was ostensibly to 
eject Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait and the 2003 invasion was over 
non-existent WMDs. One needs to ask, why is the US embassy in Baghdad the 
world's largest, when Iraq is the 36th largest country by population and 
58th largest in size (169,000 square miles, less than 1/20th the size of 
the US). For the past few years, the US has been setting up Venezuela to 
be the next Iraq, demonizing the elected President Nicolas Maduro and 
trying to provoke a military conflict, imposing sanctions and supporting 
the opposition. Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves, more 
than Saudi Arabia, Iran or Iraq.

In February 2020, the US signed an agreement with the Taliban to end what 
is now the 19-year-old war in Afghanistan. The Biden administration is 
balking at the agreed upon deadline of May 1 to pull out all US troops 
(Washington Times, February 10). On March 14, the New York Times revealed 
that the US has 1000 more troops than the 2500 they claimed are still in 
Afghanistan. US troops in Syria are there without Congressional, UN or 
Syrian approval. Fortunately, Biden announced and end to most US support 
for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in their war on Yemen, 
though reserving America's right to bomb that country to attack supposed 
"terrorists."  Under Trump, the US increased its airstrikes in Somalia 
from 14 in 2016 to 63 in 2019, with 52 in 2020 and at least 6 in January 
2021 (Military Times, January 26). The US ended its drone strikes in 
Pakistan in mid-2018, but there were at least 550 such strikes in Libya 
from 2011 to 2019 (the Intercept, June 20, 2018).

The US is indicating they could start wars with Iran, North Korea, Russia 
and China. America's military budget is roughly $750 billion per year 
while our infrastructure is crumbling and thousands of people have no 
homes or health care. It is time to end all US wars, bring the troops home 
and spend money on human needs, not war!


  March 19 also marks 10 years since President Obama led the US/NATO war on
  Libya, an air war involving roughly 7000 bombing runs which killed at
  least 582 civilians (Airwars.org) and led to the murder of leader
  Mohammer Ghadaffi. Libya has been engaged in a civil war ever since,
  though a UN-brokered resolution appears to be underway in 2021.


This flyer was prepared in March, 2021 by the
Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group

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