Reflections on the End of the Iraq War
For a war that spanned nine years and took thousands of American and Iraqi lives and billions of dollars, the events surrounding the end of the Iraq War this month were oddly restrained. As soldiers return from Iraq this holiday season, the official end of the war allows Americans to reflect on the lives lost, the challenges that remain in Iraq and the soldiers that are still fighting in Afghanistan and conflicts around the world.
Below is a media round-up exploring the reactions from people of faith and peace activists across the country:
San Diego resident Fernando Suarez Del Solar, father of a fallen marine, reflects on the homecoming of soldiers and his crusade to ensure that “no more children die…”
“On one hand, I’m happy that so many American military members will be home for Christmas. On the other, many will not be home, including my son,” said Fernando Suarez del Solar.
In March 2003, del Solar’s Marine son, Jesus, stepped on a U.S. cluster bomb and became one of the first casualties of the invasion of Iraq.”
Rev. Chuck Currie on the Christian churches’ response to the Iraq invasion:
The National Council of Churches and nearly every other Christian body in the United States and across the globe opposed the Bush’s administrations rush to war. But Democratic presidential candidates gearing up for the 2004 and 2008 presidential races – including John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton – backed President Bush and the result was nine years of war – nearly 5,000 Americans killed, many more wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqis killed and wounded.
Tom Hayden at the Los Angeles Times gives thanks to those who opposed the Iraq War from its onset in 2003 and pushes activists to keep demanding an end to the war in Afghanistan:
Now the challenge will be to bring the war in Afghanistan and the drone strikes over the border in Pakistan to an end as quickly as possible. Obama may have convinced himself that these are not “dumb wars” carried out by mindless conservatives, but the PhDs at the Pentagon and the State Department cannot prevent a deepening calamity.
This year, Rep. Lee orchestrated a Democratic National Committee resolution calling for a more rapid Afghan withdrawal, but so far the president has committed only to handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces by 2014. The peace movement should push for a faster pace.
John Dear, S.J at National Catholic Reporter asks us to reflect on what we can be done differently as America moves forward:
Christmastime invites us to reflect on our nation’s wars and our efforts, however modest, to stop them. We need to reflect upon our work for peace, specifically our work to end the long nightmare of our war in Iraq. What did we do? How can we empower others to speak up for peace? How could we have responded in a more loving, nonviolent spirit? What does the God of peace think about our efforts to make peace? What can we do now to oppose the ongoing U.S. war in Afghanistan and the ever-expanding U.S. war machine?
Mario T. Garcio at National Catholic Reporter believes the Iraq war should serve as a lesson to activists working against the backdrop of potential future conflicts:
Instead of trying to somehow justify the Iraq war, President Obama should have used the removal of the last of U.S. combat troops to reflect on the tragedy of the war and to vow that, at least under his watch, no such unnecessary interventions would take place. In the end, only the majority of us can assure preventing such future wars by our protests and struggles against imperial adventures.
“The Just War is too often used as an academic tool with no practical or pastoral force. In 1983, the U.S. Catholic bishops urged the public to “say ‘No’ to nuclear war.” In 2003, they warned President Bush that “resort to war would not meet the strict conditions in Catholic teaching for the use of military force.” Yet, once war came, they never condemned the war as unjust. As a political and pastoral tool, public use of the Just War tradition must move from analysis to judgment.”
And most importantly, a call from The Mercury News to not abandon our service men and women as they return home:
“It’s arguable that we failed the Iraqi people, but we must not fail our own. Men and women who fought for us deserve a bright future at home….
The United States’ volunteer army draws heavily on young people of low to middle income who want to serve their country and believe it will benefit them in the long run. So it should. The least we can do is guarantee that their wounds, physical and mental, will be treated and that America’s concern for their well-being does not end the moment they turn in their weapons.”
Peace activists, theologians and everyday American citizens must not become numb to the realities of war. Engaging with our fellow citizens and elected officials on how to prevent these conflicts going forward is the least we can give to the service men and women serving around the world, and returning home, this holiday season.