Iraq No. 489
The United States and the United Kingdom invaded Iraq pre-emptively, without justification, and in violation of international law. As a result, the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein and the Baathist Party is no longer. However, we cannot lose sight of the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians killed or injured by the allied forces, the vast destruction to their homes and property, or the hundreds of American and British lives lost in military and police action.
President Bush's primary stated reason for invading Iraq -- its alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) -- has failed to materialize. No WMD have been located. The second stated reason for the invasion was the alleged connection between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime, yet no connection has been uncovered. However brutal and oppressive the Iraqi regime was to its people, this does not justify an invasion. Many speculate the reason for the Iraq war was for oil. Others believe that the motive was to provide business for Vice President Dick Cheney's former corporation, Halliburton, which has won lucrative non-competitive contracts.
It is not clear that the U.S. will win the peace or commit the resources necessary to do so. Even Members of Congress who approved of the Bush war plan are now calling for a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops, complaining that the planning for military conquest was far superior to the plans for occupation. The Iraqi people are growing impatient with the inability to restore security or some semblance of economic normality. They will not be satisfied to live under what can only be described as "colonial rule." Armed resistance to the U.S. continues. U.S. armed attacks on insurgent groups have resulted in significant civilian casualties, generating added local resistance to U.S. occupation.
What can be said, with near certainty, is that our invasion and occupation of Iraq is "grist for the mill" of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The Iraq war and occupation are negative contributions to the war against terrorism. We have given a morale boost to international terrorism and provided terrorists with a better training area, enhancing the threat to U.S. and international security. When he resigned from the National Security Council, Rand Beers, counter-terrorism advisor, stated, "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure."
Given the deplorable security situation now, the first order of business should be to replace U.S. and British forces with a multilateral force under UN control, including a reconstituted Iraqi civilian police authority. U.S. troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible, and all U.S. forces should be out of Iraq within six months.
An election was held in January of 2005, in which Jaleel Talabani was elected Iraq's new president. Despite this election, the state remains unstable and insecure. A UN-led effort should assist Iraqis to build their physical, cultural and institutional infrastructure to the level of a modern nation. Oil revenues should be used for the sole benefit of the Iraqi people, particularly the poor, not to enrich multinational corporations. All assistance should be provided within the context of specific requests from the Iraqi people and with the final determination made by them.
This process can restore Iraq and its people, and can also begin to restore the image of the United States of America as a civilized, law-abiding leader in the international community. It is essential that contributions to Iraq's recovery not be used by the Bush Administration as a rationale for further slashing of vital domestic human resource development, health and social services and other public sector functions.
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