This Month Marks 25 Years the U.S. Has Been at War in Iraq

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(Photo: Jason Fudge / Flickr)

Saturday, January 17, marked 25 years — a full generation — since the 1991 launch of a U.S.-led air war, “Operation Desert Storm,” that devastated Iraq, causing extensive damage to the country’s electrical, water, and sewage infrastructure, with terrible public health consequences.

A quarter-century later, the U.S. is still bombing, and over 3,400 U.S. troops are in the country. It’s part of a larger war raging in northern Iraq and Syria, with a ferocious, merciless entity driving the destruction: the Islamic State.

The countries of the region, and to a lesser extent European countries, have been overwhelmed by the largest refugee crisis since World War II. One tragedy in particular has awakened our minds and hearts to the catastrophe: the little body of Alan Kurdi, who washed up on the shore of Turkey as he and his family tried to find refuge. His brother and mother also drowned. They are among the thousands of refugees who died seeking freedom and a new home in 2015.

Continuing warfare, including U.S. bombing; increased jihadist terror attacks around the world; the Middle East awash with weapons; a refugee crisis; murdered and traumatized civilians: All these make for a grim legacy stemming from the U.S. war of aggression in 1991. A new United Nations report on Iraq reveals that 19,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in the past 21 months, and that 3,500 women and children, mostly Yazidis, have been enslaved by the Islamic State, with immense suffering and actual slave markets reported.

As American citizens and taxpayers, and as people with hearts, we have two serious responsibilities in response to the blood-soaked chaos in Iraq and its neighbor, Syria. We need to start acknowledging the real human costs of war, including death tolls in Iraq and Syria, the trillions of our tax dollars wasted, and the damage to U.S. troops deployed to the region.

CODEPINK has been one of the few raised voices on Capitol Hill and elsewhere denouncing bombing as a “solution” and calling for responses that will actually help people. Look here for news about our protests and many links to more information.

The U.S. government — from President Obama on down, including presidential candidates of both parties — must stop exaggerating potential threats to the United States or to Americans abroad as an excuse for more military “solutions,” which only enrich weapons makers and other war profiteers.

There are two actions the United States can take without delay or negotiations:

  1. Stop bombing and arms transfers in the region.
  2. Offer dramatically increased assistance to the victims, including refugees and women victims of the Islamic State’s terror. CODEPINK has partnered with MADRE to open two shelters in Iraq for Yazidi women who’ve bravely escaped sexual enslavement. You can contribute to this much-needed work here.

Stop the blather and the bombing. Start increasing humanitarian assistance. Many lives depend on the decisions that the United States takes at this turbulent time.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, longtime CODEPINK member and staffer Janet Weil is also a co-founder of the SF 99% Coalition. She tweets from @sf99percent.

  • bilejones

    In certain segments of the US a generation is 14 years not 25.

  • darthangel

    As a vet, this gives me a lot of respect for code pink, one of the few voices on the left that has consistently opposed the war regardless of which party is in power and how it affects the polls.

    I was in Tampa, at Central Command when we began bombing Iraq in 1998 with Clinton citing the exact same intel Bush would later use. It began to dawn on me that “sanctions” were just a euphemism for siege warfare. As I began to learn about the depleted uranium and other poisons we were unloading on Iraq as their children were being born with strange birth defects, I began to think it would be better if we openly went to war so the American people could see for themselves how evil our foreign policy has become. So when Bush came to power, I stood up, protested, wrote anti-war letters, joined vets for peace. I also left a lucrative dod contractor job, because even after leaving the service, I could not stomach being part of the pentagon’s civilian side.

    I was too naive back then to understand how evil democrats and leftists are to ever think that they would only protest the war when there was a republican in office and then pretend like we were at peace again even as we illegally invade places like Libya and Syria and overlook our allies funneling money to ISIS so we can have an excuse to justify another invasion.

    I have seen proof that the whole modern system runs on war and the majority of those who protest really are just trying to look superior to the working class troops who go out and make it possible for them to live in a bubble with easy access to credit and cheap imported electronics. Bravo to code pink for being one of the few leftists groups that oppose war on principle.

    • bigmaple4

      I agree with your post, but with a change in terminology substituting “liberals” for “leftists.” Every leftist I have heard of has been against all the intervention, the wars, the sanctions and the invasions — leftists are opposed to these policies as a matter of principle, and could care less if the perpetrators are Demopublicans or Republicrats.

      A interesting attempt to provide a good internet news service is TheRealNews.com. Check them out.

  • Stan

    “All these make for a grim legacy stemming from the U.S. war of aggression in 1991. ”

    That’s an interesting bit of revisionist history…

    • Bá Thành Hoàng Khải

      So its your view that an improvised 3rd-World country struck the first blow again the Western Superpower, or…?

  • fuster

    that the US ceased being at war in Iraq by the end of the Bush presidency doesn’t seem to bother a CodePink bullspit artiste

  • wazzel

    Since the real reason for all of this has been the war profiteers enriching themselves, I wouldn’t expect a break anytime soon. Greed, is greed after all.

  • Roger V. Tranfaglia

    We NEED to get back to the principles of the Constitution (one of them being “mind our own business”) Yet walk softly and carry a big stick.
    “1984” anyone?

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