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Why did the peace movement of the middle of the last decade not grow larger? Why did it shrink away? Why is it struggling now?
As has been documented, a huge factor in the shrinking away was partisan delusion. You put a different political party's name on the wars and they become good wars.
But that also means that what you had was a peace movement that believed in the possibility of good wars. In fact, much of it believed that Iraq was a bad war and Afghanistan a good war. Many people even went out of their way to display their "reasonableness" by declaring Afghanistan a good war without actually examining the war on Afghanistan; this was imagined to be a strategic way to prevent or scale back or end the war on Iraq.
Of course, when the bad war ends, and all that's left is the good war, those who are actually motivated by opposition to war must shift to opposing the former good war as the current bad war. And why would you listen to anyone who did that? » read more »
Editor's note: Ten years ago, the war in Iraq began. This week, we focus on the people involved in the war and the lives that changed forever. » read more »
Ever More Shocked, Never Yet Awed
By David Swanson
Swanson will be speaking on this topic in Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 18th.
The following is a brief summary of a much longer, and fully documented, report available at http://warisacrime.org/iraq and being made available in an attractive 88-page PDF at http://www.coldtype.net
At 10 years since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation (to use the original name with the appropriate acronym, OIL) and over 22 years since Operation Desert Storm, there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq, or of how these actions compare to other horrors of world history. A majority of Americans believe the war since 2003 has hurt the United States but benefitted Iraq. A plurality of Americans believe, not only that Iraqis should be grateful, but that Iraqis are in fact grateful.
A number of U.S. academics have advanced the dubious claim that war making is declining around the world. Misinterpreting what has happened in Iraq is central to their argument. As documented in the full report, by the most scientifically respected measures available, Iraq lost 1.4 million lives as a result of OIL, saw 4.2 million additional people injured, and 4.5 million people become refugees. The 1.4 million dead was 5% of the population. That compares to 2.5% lost in the U.S. Civil War, or 3 to 4% in Japan in World War II, 1% in France and Italy in World War II, less than 1% in the U.K. and 0.3% in the United States in World War II. The 1.4 million dead is higher as an absolute number as well as a percentage of population than these other horrific losses. U.S. deaths in Iraq since 2003 have been 0.3% of the dead, even if they've taken up the vast majority of the news coverage, preventing U.S. news consumers from understanding the extent of Iraqi suffering.
In a very American parallel, the U.S. government has only been willing to value the life of an Iraqi at that same 0.3% of the financial value it assigns to the life of a U.S. citizen.
The 2003 invasion included 29,200 air strikes, followed by another 3,900 over the next eight years. The U.S. military targeted civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances It also made use of what some might call "weapons of mass destruction," using cluster bombs, white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new kind of napalm in densely settled urban areas.
Birth defects, cancer rates, and infant mortality are through the roof. Water supplies, sewage treatment plants, hospitals, bridges, and electricity supplies have been devastated, and not repaired. Healthcare and nutrition and education are nothing like they were before the war. And we should remember that healthcare and nutrition had already deteriorated during years of economic warfare waged through the most comprehensive economic sanctions ever imposed in modern history.
Money spent by the United States to "reconstruct" Iraq was always less than 10% of what was being spent adding to the damage, and most of it was never actually put to any useful purpose. At least a third was spent on "security," while much of the rest was spent on corruption in the U.S. military and its contractors.
The educated who might have best helped rebuild Iraq fled the country. Iraq had the best universities in Western Asia in the early 1990s, and now leads in illiteracy, with the population of teachers in Baghdad reduced by 80%.
For years, the occupying forces broke the society of Iraq down, encouraging ethnic and sectarian division and violence, resulting in a segregated country and the repression of rights that Iraqis used to enjoy even under Saddam Hussein's brutal police state.
While the dramatic escalation of violence that for several years was predicted would accompany any U.S. withdrawal did not materialize, Iraq is not at peace. The war destabilized Iraq internally, created regional tensions, and -- of course -- generated widespread resentment for the United States. That was the opposite result of the stated one of making the United States safer.
If the United States had taken five trillion dollars, and -- instead of spending it destroying Iraq -- had chosen to do good with it, at home or abroad, just imagine the possibilities. The United Nations thinks $30 billion a year would end world hunger. For $5 trillion, why not end world hunger for 167 years? The lives not saved are even more than the lives taken away by war spending.
A sanitized version of the war and how it started is now in many of our school text books. It is not too late for us to correct the record, or to make reparations. We can better work for an actual reduction in war making and the prevention of new wars, if we accurately understand what past wars have involved.
March 18, 2013
The Langston Room at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V Streets, NW
Free and open to the public.
Sign up here: http://facebook.com/events/601163023231687
Ten years after the latest U.S. assault on Iraq began with a campaign of "Shock and Awe," we stop to consider where we've been and where we should be heading. Join:
Leah Bolger, Board Member and Past President of Veterans For Peace.
Andy Shallal, artist, peace and social justice activist and entrepreneur, is the founder of Busboys and Poets and Eatonville. He sits on the board of several art, business and peace and justice organizations including the Institute for Policy Studies, Anacostia Community Museum and Think Local First D.C.
Robert Shetterly, an award winning painter whose work is in collections all over the U.S. and Europe. For more than 10 years he has been painting the series of portraits Americans Who Tell the Truth. The exhibit has been traveling around the country since 2003. A book of the portraits has won the top award of the International Reading Association for Intermediate non-fiction.
Shetterly will be unveiling his latest portrait, that of David Swanson.
David Swanson, an author whose books include Daybreak (2009), War Is A Lie (2010), When the World Outlawed War (2011), and The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012). Swanson hosts Talk Nation Radio, and works for RootsAction.org, as well as blogging at WarIsACrime.org.
Sponsoring organizations that have helped spread the word about this event:
World Can't Wait
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Veterans For Peace
Peace Action Montgomery
OccupyWashingtonDC.org / October2011
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Busboys and Poets
Teaching for Change
C.H.O.I.C.E.S. (Committee for High-School Options and Information on Careers, Education and Self-Improvement)
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
» read more »
Paul K. Chappell, Keynote Address “Why World Peace Is Possible and How We Can Achieve It.”
Tues Feb 12, 7:30 p.m., Location: Roanoke College, Wortmann Ballroom.
Paul Chappell, West Point graduate of 2002 and former army captain, who served in Iraq, will discuss the myths that perpetuate war and how we must wage peace in order to solve our national and global problems of the 21st century. Part African-American, part Asian and part Caucasian, Chappell is now Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His books include: “Will War Ever End?” “The End of War,” and “Peaceful Revolution.” This talk is the keynote address of the college’s Honors Program Conference “Eight Days Around the World.”
Follow-up discussion with Paul Chappell on “Why World Peace is Possible and How We Can Achieve it.” Wed Feb13, 7:30 p.m. Location: Westhampton Christian Church, 2515 Grandin Road (in the Fellowship Hall, lower level).
All are welcome even if you do not attend the Tues evening event. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a veteran speak on War and Peace. Both events are free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the Roanoke Quaker Meeting, Plowshare Peace Center, and Pax Christi Virginia. For more info contact Adele DellaValle-Rauth: (540)297-6493 or at Roanoke College: Mike Heller: (540)-915-2385, email@example.com. » read more »