Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Human Cost of the Iraq War

Thursday, March 19, 2009 will mark the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the U.S., UK, and their assorted partners in crime. Here in Massachusetts our local peace and justice groups will be holding vigils to commemorate this sombre occasion. A press release for one such vigil includes the following statement:
"The 6th anniversary . . . offers all Americans the opportunity to take a dramatic turn away from our disastrous war policies and to insist on the immediate, safe, and humane return home of all our troops from Iraq. It is a day to remember that this war has already lasted longer than World War II and yet our government's present plan keeps U.S.troops in combat for at least another year and a half -- then leaves tens of thousands on bases for at least another year after that.

"But most important, the 6th anniversary is a time to remember the human cost of this war:
  • 5 million Iraqis killed, maimed, tortured, and displaced (many by American firepower, home invasions, and torture, and many others by sectarian militias, suicide bombers, and death squads).
  • 4,258 American soldiers dead.
  • 45,000 American soldiers wounded.
  • Widespread psychological trauma and increasing suicides among U.S. soldiers.
"Meanwhile, we continue to borrow billions of dollars from abroad to keep the war going while teachers are not hired, houses are not built, and families go without food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare, and while an economic depression brings more and more unemployment, foreclosures, and despair. The money spent on one day of the war could cover the entire Massachusetts budget deficit for 2009!"

I've been invited to be one of the speakers at a candlelight vigil to be held in Watertown Square on the 19th. The organizers are allowing each speaker only a few minutes to speak their peace. I will have to choose my words very carefully. It will be a challenge given all that has happened since the U.S. launched its war of aggression in 2003. So much suffering, so many lives wasted, so much blood spilled. Thankfully, we can take some degree of comfort in the illustrious words of our great and former VP Dick Cheney. During a recent interview, he had this to say about our compassionate crusade: "I guess my general sense of where we are with respect to Iraq and at the end of now, what, nearly six years, is that we've accomplished nearly everything we set out to do. . . . "

(Photo: Iraqi mother with her wounded child)

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