It’s Time for a Reckoning: 20 Years After the US-led Invasion of Iraq
It’s March 19, 2003, the rumbling of Harrier jets ricochets from cloud to cloud and echoes the relentless thrum of vengeful declarations that “Freedom isn’t Free!” In the coming days, terror will rain from the sky upon the people of Iraq, violence will flood the streets of a sovereign nation, and 7,000 miles away US politicians and media will lockstep in their lies to justify it all.
And now, twenty years later, with the US war machine sinking its talons into peoples and lands the world over- we pause to ask: “What would it take to collectively release our hearts and minds from the clutches of US militarism?” At About Face: Veterans Against the War, we are a collective of anti-militarist veterans who have come together for this purpose. We originally formed as Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2004, after experiencing firsthand how wrong this war was and knowing we needed to act. We won’t allow it to be forgotten.
We know that in order to catalyze this monumental societal and economic shift from violence to care, we must first turn to self-reflection. This necessitates first acknowledging a set of facts: we were lied into the war in Iraq by politicians shilling for war-profiteering contractors; administration after administration passed on opportunities to end the violence and end the war; incalculable Iraqi lives were cut short or forever changed; and war is traumatizing for every creature and every land touched by it. With these facts in mind, we can begin the arduous and required process of reflection and change.
Though George W. Bush and his cronies may wish to repaint their images from blood-thirsty barons to affable retirees, we must continue to accurately recount the Bush administration’s role in manufacturing societal consent for war, and the lasting impacts of the structural Islamophobia they implemented. In 2002, the Bush Administration passed the Homeland Security Act which birthed the Department of Homeland Security, a rolling immigration enforcement and suppression of domestic dissent into the new rubric of the so-called “War on Terror.” To this day, the Department of Homeland Security continues its terrorization of BIPOC communities within the US, including people who are here after having fled their homelands due to US violence.
We must continue to call out the insanity that is a forever ballooning so-called “Defense” Budget. Since 2003, the war budget has more than doubled in size to a feverish pitch of $816 Billion. War profiteering contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin continue to be granted no-bid contracts to develop weapons of mass destruction to inflict harm on impoverished people worldwide.
We must continue to call for repair of the lands poisoned by US toxins, like depleted uranium, and reparations for the people of Iraq. The US war machine has never accounted for its impacts on lands and people. We know that the US military is the top polluter in the world. We know that war uses violence and harm to extract resources and exploit people. And we know that the US has the means and resources to change and repair. The only source lacking in our government is desire.
We must continue to tell the stories of the nearly 36 Million people worldwide who protested the US-led invasion into Iraq, the stories of the countless dissenting veterans who put down their tools of violence in Iraq as we have in every war in US history, and most of all- we must continue to tell the stories of the millions of Iraqis killed or traumatized by US-led terror who are still fighting for self-determination.
About Face will continue the work to uplift their voices and will continue to redirect funds for reparations. You can donate on our website aboutfaceveterans.org to the “Reparations for Iraqi People: 20 Years Post Invasion” Fundraiser and funds collected will go directly to an Iraqi human rights organization focused on gender equality. Due to security concerns, we cannot release the name of the organization.
As veterans and people of conscience, we must continue to push through the individualistic thickets of shame for the terror we shelled out, knowing that collective reckoning, healing, and growth are on the other side.