We were told that Iraq possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” that Saddam Hussein had connections to al-Qaeda, and that U.S. soldiers would be welcomed as liberators. But we now know all those “facts” and promises were in fact lies.
The true motive for the war was control of Iraq and its vast oil reserves as a vital component in the U.S. government strategy of dominating the entire Middle East. The Persian/Arabian Gulf region holds 70 percent of the world’s known petroleum reserves. Control of Iraqi oil means tremendous profits for U.S.-based oil corporations.
As a result of the U.S. occupation, well over 1 million Iraqis have been killed. Nearly 5 million Iraqis have become refugees, driven from their homes by U.S.-instigated violence. Millions more have suffered severe and often permanently disabling physical and psychological injury. From one-quarter to one-third of Iraq’s population has been killed, wounded or forcibly displaced since the 2003 invasion.
More than 4,200 U.S. troops have been killed so far, with an average of more than 30 soldiers dying each month. That number will continue to rise. According to the Pentagon, more than 65,000 U.S. service members have been wounded or so badly injured/made ill that they had to be medivaced out of the country for treatment. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that if the war stopped today, there would be 300,000 Iraq vets with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Prior to the invasion, estimates for the war were as low as $60 billion. Currently, $12 billion is being spent in Iraq each month. The former chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, published a book last year in which he estimated that the total cost of the war will be 3 trillion dollars—$3,000,000,000,000!
Former President Bush launched the illegal invasion of Iraq and defended it until his last day in office. Many people were expecting an end to the war with the election of Barack Obama. But in his February 27 speech to Marines at Camp Lejeune, Obama announced plans to keep no less than 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq until at least December 2011. Incredibly, he said of the war that has torn Iraq apart and destroyed so many lives: “We will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life. That is your achievement. That is the prospect that you have made possible.”
Real change cannot be expected to come from the Washington establishment—no matter who holds the office of President. The real “change we need” can only come from a powerful grassroots movement that unites those inside and outside of the military who oppose war, racism and occupation.