News Release

With Iraq in Flames: Critical Perspectives


Dougherty is a co-founder of the newly formed group Iraq Veterans Against the War. She was in the Colorado Army National Guard for eight years and was a military police sergeant for a year in Iraq before returning to the U.S. in late February. She said today: “When we first arrived in Iraq, part of what struck me was the poverty and desperation of the Iraqi people, but they acted friendly towards us, often smiling and waving. As we continued to occupy Iraq, I began to feel a growing sense of apprehension, as though the situation was going to turn violent any day. I could sense a change in the Iraqi people, more of them would avert their eyes, scowl, or make insulting gestures when we passed. Many Iraqis truly believed that the presence of the Americans would help them to improve their lives. They didn’t expect to be living without electricity, fresh water, medical care, and other essential services, long after the war ended. They didn’t expect to be terrorized by the foreign troops and treated as trespassers in their own country. When the Shia’a uprisings began in Southern Iraq this spring, I was surprised only that the violence hadn’t begun earlier. I believe that as long as the U.S. continues to occupy Iraq, the Iraqis will continue to fight against us.”
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President of Conscience International and coordinator of the Fallujah-Najaf Defense Committee, Jennings led humanitarian teams to Iraq before, during, and after the 2003 war. A former professor of Middle East history, he has done extensive work in Iraq since 1964, mainly for children’s health projects. He said today: “Only an outcry from U.S. citizens tired of this war will prevent Fallujah, Najaf, and other Iraqi cities from suffering the same fate as Grozny. If recent events tell us anything, they prove that pulverizing a city, as the Russians did in Chechnya, does not make people safer — quite the reverse…. The use of massive U.S. military firepower against heavily populated cities is simply wrong, because it results in high numbers of civilian casualties. Putting American troops in urban combat situations where they are constantly vulnerable to remote-controlled bombs is equally unacceptable, because of the casualty rate among the soldiers…. The logical solution is for U.S. troops to pull back immediately to bases far away from urban areas and to leave Iraq as soon as possible. A failed policy cannot be rescued by evermore brutal military tactics, as history makes abundantly clear.”
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Currently in New York City, Mahajan is author of the book Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond. He said today: “Over the past four months, continuing U.S. airstrikes on ‘suspected Zarqawi safehouses’ have killed close to 100 people in Fallujah alone, with other attacks on Tall Afar and elsewhere. Even if you stipulated that the U.S. presence in Iraq was a legitimate occupation, there is no way to construe this as appropriate policing procedure…. These attacks come on the heels of a brutal assault on Fallujah in April where estimates are that 900 to 1,000 people, perhaps two-thirds or more of them civilians, were killed. I was in Fallujah during that assault, and saw evidence of numerous measures targeted at civilians. U.S. soldiers deliberately closed the main hospital and shut off access to it. They bombed the main power plant, so Fallujah was blacked out. Marine snipers turned the city into a series of mutually inaccessible zones separated by the ‘no-man’s-land’ of sniper fire paths. They shot indiscriminately at civilians, deliberately targeted ambulances, and made it impossible for most of the wounded to get timely medical aid.”
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Director of the International Coalition of Academics Against Occupation, Rubin said today: “Even after the ‘transfer of authority’ the U.S. government remains in de facto military occupation of Iraq. The idea that the escalation of violence can be put to an end by the ‘interim’ government, while 140,000 U.S. troops remain in control of major Iraqi cities like Mosul and Baghdad, is far from the reality on the ground.” Rubin, a professor at Georgetown University, wrote the recent article “Blood Ba’ath” in the New Statesman. He wrote the forthcoming book Archives of Authority and is co-editor of The Edward Said Reader.
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Zunes is Middle East editor for Foreign Policy in Focus and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism. He serves as a professor of politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. He said today: “On the eve of the third anniversary of 9/11, the U.S. House of Representatives — by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 406-16 — passed a resolution linking Iraq to the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This comes despite conclusions reached by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission and the consensus of independent strategic analysts familiar with the region that no such links ever existed.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167