Iraq: Background

Nearly 10 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the country continues to bleed and suffer. The death toll on all sides is mounting, and the US military, rather than solving Iraq's problems, is, in the fact, the source of much of Iraq's instability. The war has lasted longer than World War II and has cost more than the Vietnam War. It's time to stop funding the war, bring the troops home, and prevent future wars!

The U.S. military presence in Iraq isn't providing security for Iraqis. A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that over 655,000 people have died in Iraq since the US invaded in March 2003. The United Nations says some 1.7 million people are internally displaced within Iraq and about two million are displaced outside of the country.

Fear of violence, abduction and rape has emptied the streets of women. And, the cost of the war is soaring, with billions already spent on war that could otherwise be used to create jobs, relieve poverty, and improve health and education, both in Iraq and the United States.

Meanwhile, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq, nor were there any links discovered between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The Downing Street memo, a document from British intelligence from July 23, 2002, proves that the Bush Administration never had concrete or credible evidence for any of the original allegations for war. The Bush Administration's haste and lies have now led to a seemingly endless occupation that has only gotten worse since Bush himself stood up and publicly declared "Mission Accomplished." The Iraqi military clearly did not even have the ability to defend its own capital, much less the strength to attack the U.S. or its neighbors.

The national conversation around the war has dramatically shifted over the past four years. Most Americans -- more than six in ten -- believe that going to war in Iraq was a mistake, reflecting a sea change in public opinion. Now, those who led us to war are backpedaling, stating that our withdrawal will precipitate more violence, causing a civil war. But this is a misrepresentation of what the military occupation is currently accomplishing: continuing the U.S.-led occupation will actually NOT bring peace, stability and democracy to the Iraqi people.

Instead of maintaining security, the U.S. military presence is, on the whole, exacerbating sectarian violence and chaos. U.S. troops provide militant squads with a golden target on the streets. There are no better people to tell us about the wrongheadedness of this war than Iraqis ~ a 2006 World Opinion Poll reports that, 78% of Iraqis say US military presence is “provoking more conflict than it is preventing,” and 71% of Iraqis would like U.S.-led forces to be withdrawn within a year or less. Furthermore, Global Exchange has organized delegations of Iraqis here to the states who have echoed this. Furthermore, the troops themselves are turning against this mismanaged conflict. As a 2006 poll indicated, 72% of active military members serving in Iraq believed that the war should have ended before 2006 was out.

Fortunately, the peace movement is just as vibrant as before the war, when we were working to prevent an attack on Iraq. We are educating people about the reality of warfare in Iraq; pressuring our Senators and Representatives to cut off funding for the war; supporting military families and GIs who are speaking out against the war or refusing to fight; and taking to the streets to tell the world that we say no to the Bush administration's aggressive and militaristic foreign policies. And it's working! The people spoke out through the 2006 mid-term elections by voting out pro-war candidates and changing the control over Congress and 70% of Americans now disapprove of Bush's handling of the war.