By Medea Benjamin (opednews.com)

Bush Lied: Thousands died and thousands tortured

With the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, the administration, the military and the media are trying to put a positive spin on this grim chapter of U.S. history. It would certainly give some comfort to the grieving families of the over 4,400 soldiers killed in Iraq if their sacrifices had left Iraq a better place or made America safer. But the bitter truth is that the U.S. intervention has been an utter disaster for both Iraq and the United States.

First let’s acknowledge that we should have never attacked Iraq to begin with. Iraq had no connection with our 9/11 attackers, had no weapons of mass destruction and represented no threat to the United States. We were pushed into this war on the basis of lies and no one–not George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld-has been held accountable. The “think tanks,” journalists and pundits who perpetuated the lies have not been fired. Most of them can be found today cheerleading for the war in Afghanistan.

It’s true that Iraqis suffered under the brutal rule of Saddam Hussein but his overthrow did not lead to a better life for Iraqis. “I am not a political person, but I know that under Saddam Hussein, we had electricity, clean drinking water, a healthcare system that was the envy of the Arab world and free education through college,” Iraqi pharmacist Dr. Entisar Al-Arabi told me. “I have five children and every time I had a baby, I was entitled to a year of paid maternity leave. I owned a pharmacy and I could close up shop as late as I chose because the streets were safe. Today there is no security and Iraqis have terrible shortages of everything–electricity, food, water, medicines, even gasoline. Most of the educated people have fled the country, and those who remain look back longingly to the days of Saddam Hussein.”

Dr. Al-Arabi has joined the ranks of the nearly four million Iraqi refugees, many of whom are now living in increasingly desperate circumstances in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and around the world. Undocumented, most are not allowed to work and are forced to take extremely low paying, illegal jobs or rely on the UN and charities to survive. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has reported a disturbing spike in the sex trafficking of Iraqi women.

The Iraq war has left a terrible toll on our troops. Over 4,400 have been killed and tens of thousands severely injured. More than one in four U.S. troops have come home from the Iraq war with health problems that require medical or mental health treatment. “PTSD rates have skyrocketed and in 2009, a record number of 245 soldiers committed suicide,” said Geoff Millard, chair of the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “If vets coming home from Iraq don’t get treated, we will see a rise in homelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism and domestic violence.”

It has also drained our treasury and contributed to the present financial crisis. As of August 2010, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $750 billion on the Iraq war. Counting the cost of lifetime care for wounded vets and the interest payments on the money we borrowed to pay for this war, the real cost will be in the trillions. This money could have been used to invest in clean, green jobs, or to rebuild our nation’s schools, healthcare and infrastructure-ensuring real security for Americans.

In addition to harming our troops and economy, the war has deeply tarnished our reputation. The US policy of torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, violent and deadly raids on civilian homes, gunning down innocent civilians in the streets and absence of habeas corpus has fueled the fires of hatred and extremism toward Americans. The very presence of our troops in Iraq and other Muslim nations has become a recruiting tool.

And let’s not forget that our presence in Iraq is far from over. There will still be 50,000 troops left behind, some 75,000 private contractors, five huge “enduring bases” and an embassy the size of Vatican City. As Major General Stephen Lanza, the US military spokesman in Iraq, told the New York Times:“In practical terms, nothing will change”.

So let us mark this moment with a deep sense of shame for the suffering we have brought to Iraqis and American military families, and a deep sense of shame that our democracy has been unable to hold accountable those responsible for this debacle.

The lessons of this disastrous intervention should serve as an impetus for Congress and the administration to end the quagmire in Afghanistan. It’s time to end these unwinnable, unjustifiable wars and bring our war dollars home to tackle the most strategic task for our national security, i.e. rebuilding America.

You can join the coalition calling for accountability by signing uphere.

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Www.globalexchange.org

Related articles:

Maidhc Ó Cathail – Who’s to blame for the Iraq war? | Sabbah Report

JEFF GATES: Criminal State: A Closer Look at Israel’s Role in Terrorism


  1. Annette McManus on the 24. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Dear Medea,
    You have surmised and outlined the past, horrific, seven years with great eloquence and truth.

    It it a humanitarian disgrace, one of the most shameful incidences in modern history, and, ultimately, a show of incredeible ignorance and arrogrance by the US government and political leaders, as to what is the real sense of democracy.
    Who cares about having elections and going to the polls when you do not have water of electricity???
    It is about time The US starts mending things at home (especially taking good care of all veterans).
    It is about time the outrageous call for “the war on terror”
    take a good, hard look at themselves and SEE who the real terrorists in the world come from, Israel and their best friend (puppet) The USA.
    As Alsion Weir so rightly demands “WAKE UP AMERICA”.
    Namaste, Annette

  2. Luath on the 24. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Maybe you should take responsibility for your own inability to cope with reality, but what’s this “we” sh*t?
    I myself, had nothing to do with “bringing suffering upon the Iraqis” I have never voted and I have never paid taxes. So why are you including me in this we? maybe YOU paid for their suffering, maybe YOU were seduced by the lying bastards who are so insecure with themselves, that they need your vote to shore up their non existent image. But please don’t think that by using an all inclusive pronoun, it absolves you from any responsibility. I have never been convinced enough by the lies to jump on board the good ship lolly-pop to never-neverland, where life is made of marshmellows and everyone speaks English. If your that easy to decieve, and it appears you are….
    I would suggest therapy, on your time, not mine. Because there is no we, only you.

  3. Egoigwe on the 24. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    What we need to realize is it’s not like some mad US President woke up one fine Sunday morning and thought to himself; hmm, this looks like a fine day to go to war. How did it happen that a great power, such as America is, lets Israel get all here-doggie, good-doggie over it?

    Its insane for any President, free-willed and in charge, to roll over so commonly. Obama is a joke and Hillary commands more presence. We all knew people were going to die, as we knew Iraq would be run over. We definitely all knew Iraq was in harm’s way. We let it happen. It was so easy to conclude; yeah, whatever! Iraq would be better off without Saddam. Well, is it? We knew it’d come to this. (sorry Luath, about the we sh#t. It’s for lack of a better collective.)

    The spoils and treasures stolen everyday from Iraq inform the push on Iran. Its every intent is duplicated and motives the same; to lay waste a people and their way of life and seize property and resources. Listen to Luath, he has the right idea; do something constructive to protest. Why pay taxes, isn’t there something loads better you can use the money for, in these economically awful times?

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