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Following is an introduction to a Social Justice Issue: "Iraq: Work for Justice, Basic Human Needs" Links to web sites are included for *in-depth information, *analysis, *action ideas, *contacts, and *organizing initiatives. You are encouraged to use the links to take you to facets of this issue that speak to your heart, mind, and desire to unite your faith with action.

Work for Justice, Basic Human Needs

Prelude to War      Grave Consequences of War
Advocacy for Securing Justice and Peace Nonviolently      Cost of U.S. Occupation of Iraq      Action Alerts!

Prelude to War

Depictions of death from warFollowing September 11, 2001, Iraq became an obvious target of the Bush administration in the war against terrorism in order to "remove the Hussein regime and to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction." President Bush, while trying to secure U.N. backing for war against Iraq, prepared for a go-it-alone-as-necessary, pre-emptive strike.

Religious opposition to the war was broader and deeper than in the past. Various denominations and religious traditions, as well as 100 Christian ethicists, released statements expressing opposition to war. Alternatives to war -- including a regime change without bloodshed --were presented.

Pope John Paul II, calling the war unjust and immoral, exhorted the world community to address the root causes of injustice and terrorism. Sojourners founder, Jim Wallis, was one of the religious leaders who prepared an eleventh-hour initiative that might have prevented war.

Global solidarity and yearnings for peace were clearly evident to world leaders when millions and millions (estimates range from 6-30 million people!) marched for peace on February 15-16, 2003. It was an inspiring, historic moment as the world said "no to war" via huge, wide-spread, pre-emptive protests for peace

After months of negotiations and deal-making, U.S. efforts to secure U.N. backing for war on Iraq failed; war began on March 19, 2003, with a surgical strike to remove the Iraqi leadership. While major bombing has stopped, the peace seems less possible than ever.

(For a comprehensive overview of what has led to war against Iraq in 2003, see Frontline's "Long Road to War.")

Grave Consequences of War

Removing Hussein via a violent war has brought grave consequences. Stop the War posterWith every war there are human faces. Thousands of Iraqis have been killed when bombs lack the anticipated precision, or when innocent people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soldiers on both sides -- fathers, mothers, sons, brothers, daughters -- are killed, to the deep dismay of their families, friends, and co-workers. One in six Iraq Veterans has been found to suffer stress-related disorders.

Guerilla-style attacks and car bombings have been commonplace, with devastating impact on civilians, members of the U.N. delegation, religious leaders, and U.S. soldiers. Internationally, U.S. esteem and credibility have plummeted. This is, in part, due to a Bush Administration foreign policy that:

  • Downplayed huge, widespread international protests and reactions to war
  • Raised doubts about the reliability of its reporting and intelligence, since no weapons of mass destruction have been found
  • Suggested that oil and control of the Middle East are the underlying reasons for the war
  • Promulgated a dangerous precedence-setting policy of pre-emption and world dominance in its National Security Policy

Advocacy for Securing Justice and Peace, Nonviolently

The anti-war movement is larger than any other such movement in history. There was/is a multitude of faith-based groups united in their opposition to war.

FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation) is one of the long-standing leaders in acting nonviolently to build a just and peaceful world. Long opposed to war as a matter of faith, Pax Christi USA (part of Pax Christi International, a Catholic peace movement) has organized The People's Peace Initiative."

EPIC (Education for Peace in Iraq Center) works to promote a free and secure Iraq. The National Priorities Project prepares an interactive chart that shows the cost of the war, state-by-state.

Cost of U.S. Occupation of Iraq

The U.S. occupation in Iraq has

  • Left U.S. soldiers unprepared and vulnerable (thousands more were killed since President Bush declared "mission accomplished" than prior to that)
  • Brought guerilla warfare, insecurity, and thousands of deaths
  • Destroyed much of the infrastructure -- electricity, water systesm, roads -- of major cities and created a high level of unemploymentStop the War banner

Thousands of civilian deaths were preventable. A key statement in Bush's State of the Union was false. No weapons of mass destruction have been found. Former Chief weapons inspector David Kays' Congressional testimony (January 2004) -- that no WMDs exist in Iraq and likely did not exist in Iraq during the U.S. run-up to war -- undermined the credibility of the administration, which was further damaged by testimony from Richard Clark that raised questions about Bush's handling of 9/ll and the war in Iraq. An independent commission, established to study U.S. Iraqi war intelligence, released a scathing report in March 2005.Douglas MacArthur quote

The U.S. cost of the Iraq war is close to $350,000,000 per day. Could tax dollars be better spent? The National Priorities Project has prepared an interactive page to determine the trade offs for individual communities.

Thousands of civilians, many of them children, have died in Iraq; deaths increased dramatically since the invasion. Four million Iraqis regularly cannot buy enough to eat, and 70 percent of Iraqis lack adequate water supplies, according to a July 2007 report released by Oxfam. One in five Iraqis have been displaced.

The photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison shocked and angered people across the world. Such images have greatly undermined U.S. credibility and efforts to bring stability in Iraq, despite the transfer to Iraqi sovereignty.

Action Alerts!

Help bring about real global security — without more deaths, destruction, and the waste of limited financial resources:

Modified Modified November 1, 2009.