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Blog: 2003 or 1991? - Our Role in Iraq

Jun 18, 2014 | By Marge Clark, BVM

I am befuddled each time I read a commentary tracking our war in Iraq to 2003. I vividly remember January 1991 when the U.S. led a massive offensive against Iraq. The intense destruction of facilities such as airports – and hospitals, schools and water purification plants – was enhanced by the U.S./U.N. sanctions prohibiting trade with Iraq. This resulted in the Iraqi people being denied the means to rebuild hospitals and water treatment facilities, obtain necessary medications, and so many other life-saving items.

I remember distinctly, over the next couple of years, sitting down with Sisters in my own Congregation who had gone to Iraq as observers – and pouring over their pictures of hospitals in ruins, children maimed by bombs suffering without pain medication, and without access to prosthetics to replace limbs we were responsible for tearing from their bodies.

I also know of the quality of life, the richness of culture, heritage and advanced technology Iraq had gloried in before 1991. 1991 began an immense brain-drain from the nation, to the benefit of many other countries; but destructive of the future of the people of Iraq.

Can our selective memories be so short that we forget what surely turned Iraqi leaders against the United States, the Western World? I say, “Iraqi leaders” because my Sisters who were there found the people they met at the hospitals, in the streets and places to eat carefully delineated the American people from the American political and economic leaders. We are not so discriminating.

I follow the impact of our recent (a few years) drone use, recognizing the vastly greater numbers of civilians (mostly women and children) being killed and maimed by our drones – and yes, in at least some cases we have eliminated some combatants. I ache for the gentle people of Iraq, I lament our 23 years of actions against the Iraqi people, and I pray for our own leadership when there is so much pressure to step up the violent response to violence. There are no easy answers – and we may be at a point in society when there are no peaceable alternatives. What a sad and ungodly situation we have created for ourselves.

VIOLENCE BEGETS VIOLENCE

Jesus said to his disciples:
You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.             Matt 5:43-46