Working towards peace and sustainability

Somehow Lost in the Shuffle?

It’s been an intense week, what with high-profile police shootings of African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota followed by a mass shooting of police officers in Texas, not to mention major headline events in the unfolding presidential marathon, something that seems to hold our attention now for nearly two out of every four years. So, it’s not surprising that many didn’t notice, or, if they did, failed to pay close attention to, the latest tragedy that transpired in Baghdad this past Sunday. Nor were many Americans riveted by the release of a major British report on the Iraq War issued Wednesday.

The suicide truck bombing in the Karrada district of Baghdad claimed the lives of 292 Iraqis, making it the single deadliest such bombing since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. But, as horrific as it was, it is far from an isolated event. In fact, Iraq has lost more than one thousand of its citizens in post-invasion violence every single month so far this year, And every single month in 2015. And ditto for 2014.
Karrada bombing scene.

It is worthy of note that this one terrible incident claimed the lives of more than four times as many Iraqis as the total of Americans who died in terror attacks on U.S. soil since the attacks of 9/11/01, right through the end of 2014. This number was 59, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a DHS-sponsored program based at the University of Maryland.

Most Americans have little sense of the horrors Iraq has gone through since the Bush administration launched its entirely unjustified, illegal and immoral war of aggression in March of 2003. Most of us rarely, if ever, think about the Iraqis.

We might shade our Facebook profile pics with the French Tricolore to honor those lost in the Paris attacks, or with rainbow hues in solidarity with the LGBT community after the horror of Orlando, but, how many of us stop to think that the number of souls lost in these two horrific events combined is significantly fewer than those who died in Baghdad on this one day, July 3, 2016?

This violence goes on day after day, month after month, with many hundreds of thousands having lost their lives and more than five million people displaced from their homes. Their country has been torn asunder, its infrastructure devastated and not properly rebuilt. Its social and cultural institutions have likewise suffered tremendously. And, as those who could afford to packed up and left the country, there has been a serious brain-drain, with a huge loss of professionals, academics and civil servants.

And, as the violence has gone on for more than 13 years now, a whole generation of Iraqis is coming of age that has known nothing but war; that has been traumatized by repeated exposure to violence, death and destruction.
First responders rescue survivors of the Karrada bombing.

And the tragic consequences don’t stop at Iraq’s borders. The actions of our government have destabilized the region, fueling conflict and terrorism in many locales, most notably Syria.

There is no doubt that this has all been a direct result of our nation’s illegal, unjustifiable war-making. There was no al Qaeda in Iraq before Bush and Cheney commenced their war of aggression. ISIS did not exist. There were no waring militias. The United States, along with its junior partner, the United Kingdom, are the responsible parties.

It was our tax dollars that paid for these crimes. And it was our young men and women who were sent off to participate in these crimes. The troops were lied to, being told that Iraq was behind 9/11 and that they possessed a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that present a clear and present danger to our nation.

Interestingly, in the U.K., the report of the Chilcot Inquiry, seven years in the making, has just been released. This in-depth study of how and why the U.K. and U.S. went to war is very revealing and it has sparked significant discussion in Britain. Unfortunately, here in the States—like the Baghdad bombing, and the situation in Iraq in general—it has garnered little attention.

In our opinion, one thing that’s needed here in the U.S. is a similar revisiting of the decision to make war. This should, in our opinion, open the door to prosecution of those who made the decisions to be placed on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

While this won’t solve the tragedy that is Iraq today, it might help prevent future Iraq-like situations. While a thoroughgoing discussion of what steps might be taken to secure a just peace in Iraq is beyond the scope of this post, it should be noted that further bombing of the country is no solution. As Michael Franti noted many years ago, “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb it into peace.” 
We've not big fans of flags, but if you feeling like showing your solidarity with Iraq on social media, this is theirs.