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الجمعة، 12 سبتمبر 2014

“Our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead.”

“Our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead.”

President Barak Obama on the eve of the 13th Anniversary of September 11, 2001,
during an announcement regarding renewed commitment to US military intervention in Iraq

Dear Khaled,
In 1899, the British poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling published and distributed his poem, "The White Man's Burden." The poem - an argument for US Imperialism modeled after British Imperialism - was published in McClure's magazine in February of that year to coincide with the beginning of the Philippine-American War and the U.S. Senate ratification of a treaty that placed Puerto Rico, Guam, Cuba, and the Philippines under the control of the United States. 115 years later, Puerto Rico and Guam remain "US Colonial Possessions." In 115 years, what will be the relationship between the United States and Iraq?
While the election of the first black president of the United States signifies an important shift in American culture, the colonial and expansionist mentality of our government leaders remains fully intact and the myth of American exceptionalism continues to thrive.
Last night, Obama used the same rhetorical tactics of George W. Bush and Rudyard Kipling to manipulate Americans into believing (falsely) that Iraq is a nation of savages who cannot take care of themselves, and that the US has a responsibility to civilize them. Obama failed to comment on the burden that continual occupation has placed on Iraqis, or the impact of U.S. imposed sanctions in the 1990s that destroyed Iraq's infrastructure, having an especially harsh impact on their education and healthcare capabilities. The only burden the U.S. government should feel with regards to Iraq is the "burden" of paying reparation for the damages it has already caused, and will continue to cause in the coming days, months, and years. 
Independent toxicology reports have confirmed that there are increased levels of radioactivity from toxic munitions leftover from the 2003 - 2011 occupation of Iraq. In areas such as Hawija, this radioactivity has created an entire generation of children with serious health problems and disabilities. Represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, IVAW has been fighting along side the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq to demand government accountability for the human rights violations that were already perpetrated against Iraqis and U.S. service members. Many of these violations have long-term health impacts (including death) and have yet to be addressed. How can we "begin" a new war in Iraq when the last one has yet to come to a close?
We need to start holding our government accountable. 
Every time Obama announces the possibility of airstrikes, we run to shut them down, but after that moment has passed, where do we go and what do we do? When wars end, they are not really over, especially for those who have lived through them first hand. What will keep us in Iraq for the next 115 years is inaction following military intervention. We need to continue to fight before, during and after if we are ever to be successful in breaking this cycle.
This fall, IVAW will be finishing an intensive period of strategic planning. We will be consulting with our Iraqi partners about how to best move forward with The Right to Heal Initiative and we will be working with our members to begin a new member-led grassroots campaign to stop the cycles of militarism and violence.
In times of crisis, the desire to take action can be overwhelming. We support actions all over the country and world that aim to cease airstrikes and military intervention in Iraq. We hope that you will continue to be there with us, even when the media once again turns its backs on these issues.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support and for making it possible for us to continue to build this movement.
In Solidarity,

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