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Now That You Have Destroyed Our Country, Withdrawing Is Not Enough

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An Open Letter from the President of the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq

To the American President Barak Obama

Nine years ago your military invaded Iraq claiming two justifications:  the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the goal of spreading democracy.  The first pretext was proved absolutely false, which even former-president George Bush has admitted. This was shameful.  But in the name of spreading democracy, what Iraqis have witnessed instead it that the US spreads killing, looting, sectarian strife, militias, and terrorism. You imposed reactionary ideas, especially about women, so that sexual trafficking and prostitution are now increasing here. Our schools and universities have been destroyed and education has deteriorated. The US authorities you put in power over us, and later the government the US imposed upon us through the elections you administered have devastated our communities’ resources.

During the US occupation, Iraq experienced levels of crime and political chaos never before witnessed here, even during the conquest of Baghdad by the Mongol ruler, Hulagu Khan. Civilized life declined. The gains of decades of struggle to improve life in Iraq were wiped out. Evidence of centuries of historical development in Iraq, the achievements of the great Babylonians and the ruins of Sumer and Akkad were thoughtlessly destroyed as you turned them into army barracks. Your soldiers dug up the ground around the ruins, destroying even the clay tablets on which human beings first wrote letters thousands of years ago.

Not satisfied with merely destroying Iraq, the occupation forces created political structures that planted seeds of hate and enmity, and opposed all that was modern, advanced and striving for freedom. These new political structures created conflicts and renewed old disputes, throwing our society into a vortex of violence and corruption, destroying what had been a modern, urban culture.

Your withdrawal now – which we still do not trust to be total or final – will not solve the problems that our society faces. It will not end the crisis that the US created. We will need many long years to forget the painful memories and suffering of being victims of occupation. We will need decades to restore what you have destroyed and decades to save our future generations. You have left behind an environment polluted by radiation and soil poisoned with chemicals. Our children and our elders are dying from diseases caused by your weapons and destruction. They cry out for treatment, but there is no cure for their suffering. Many hope for death just to end their pain.

You have spent hundreds of billions of dollars that you collected in taxes from Americans who rejected war. Your country now suffers high unemployment. You forced your nation’s youth to kill innocent people under the pretext of fighting terrorism, while your own citizens opposed war and rejected your war policies. American workers declared their opposition to war with Iraq before the invasion. They joined anti-war groups and waged campaigns to stop the war. Your leaders may boast of victory but after withdrawal they will leave behind sorrows that don’t end. How can you withdraw without acknowledging the crimes that you have committed? 

You owe the Iraqi people compensation. You must be responsible for the suffering of the innocent victims of your war. The people of Iraq retain the right to make these demands, even if your agreement with the Iraqi government does not mention our right.

Our voices are the voices of millions of Iraqi workers, the voices of the masses in our country. We are expressing our outrage over what is happening. At the same time our voices reflect the wishes of billions of people throughout the world – especially the American public who called for freedom from fighting wars and who asked to live in peace with other peoples.  The thousands of people who are on Wall Street in the name of the “Occupy Movement” share this message of peace not war, a message that rejects humans abusing one another. Instead, we call for equality and an end to injustice – a call being heard throughout the world. We stand together with our colleagues in the Occupy Movement against the US war policies and the capitalist system that promotes them.

Fallah Alwan

President of the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq