The invasion of Iraq was justified as an attempt to protect our country by removing weapons of mass destruction. As former government officials have spoken out and secret documents have been leaked, we now know that this justification was but an excuse for a war desired for other reasons. Despite what we were publicly told, the policy decision to launch a war was decided upon in advance and, as the famous Downing Street Minutes of secret meetings between US and British officials stated, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” As a response, over 20 members of Congress have called for an impeachment investigation in response to this war based on lies.
Meanwhile in Iraq after three years of occupation, life is in many ways worse than it was before the invasion. Residents have less hours of electricity, less clean water, and worse medical care than they had previously. In this oil-rich country, oil production is lower than it was three years ago and people queue for hours just to get gasoline for their cars or oil for cooking and heating. Everyday security is lacking for many. Bombs explode, militias fight, and criminals kidnap and murder. Millions of women and children are afraid to leave their homes unaccompanied due to fear of crime. Epidemiologists have estimated that over 100,000 civilians have died as a result of the invasion and occupation [see also my 100,000 Iraqis Dead: Should We Believe It?]. Many have died from political violence, others from increased crime and disease.
Iraq is on the knife’s edge of civil war. Insurgents kill civilians as part of their strategy against the occupation and against the current government. The government army and police are infiltrated by sectarian militias loyal to particular political parties and not to Iraq as a whole. These Iraqi institutions have created new torture facilities and death squads to kill suspected opponents. Every day, dozens of bodies are received by the Baghdad morgue, many with signs of torture at official hands. As the November 29, 2005 Los Angeles Times quoted a morgue official:
“Among them, we see many signs of torture,” said the official, who requested anonymity for security reasons. “Most of them have blunt trauma, cigarette burns. They have been hit with sticks, cables, kicking. Some have had drill holes into them.” He said that nearly all of the mass victims arrive bound by handcuffs — plastic flexicuffs, but also “stainless steel ones, good ones,” he said. “Sometimes we keep them. Sometimes we unlock them and return them to the police.”
Polls have shown that Iraqis at least partly blame the American-led occupation for their woes. Thus, a secret poll conducted for the British Ministry of Defense and seen by the London Sunday Telegraph in October 2005 found that “82 per cent are ‘strongly opposed’ to the presence of coalition troops,” and “forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified.” As American officials claim that US troops must remain in Iraq to enhance security, this poll found that “less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security.”
President Bush is fond of saying that we have to stay in Iraq in order to support our troops serving there. Many families of serving, wounded, or killed soldiers, including Cindy Sheehan, have demolished the ridiculous argument that we should continue with a disastrous policy out of respect for those sacrificing their comfort, and sometimes their lives, in carrying out that policy. Now we receive news that US troops serving in Iraq do not agree with President Bush. A poll of these troops just released by the Zogby International polling firm finds that “an overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately.”
The United States invaded Iraq based on lies, in defiance of the United Nations Charter. This war is an illegal action that, while removing a brutal dictator, has brought incredible suffering and death to Iraqis. The Iraqi people want us to leave, our troops serving there want us to leave. A majority of Americans want us to leave. It is now up to us, the American people, to force our leaders to respect the wishes of the Iraqi and American people and end this occupation and bring the troops home now.
Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is a member of Roslindale Neighbors for Peace and Justice and founder of Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice. He maintains the Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report web page and the Psyche, Science, and Society blog.