A year in Iraq

Lisa Stiller is a teacher and member of the Reno Anti-war Coalition.

The Reno Anti-war Coalition will sponsor an anti-war rally at 1 p.m. on March 20 at Brick Park.

It has been one year since we invaded Iraq.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Why did we go there, and what have we accomplished?

We went to Iraq because Bush told us the Iraqi government was going to do terrible things to us if we didn’t. He said the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction, which could and would be used against us. He said Saddam Hussein was a really bad guy and needed to be ousted. Bush said the American people would live in a safer world if we got rid of Hussein.

So U.S. forces entered Iraq. A year later, as we look back on this sad anniversary of the illegal use of U.S. force, we must ask ourselves if, indeed, we have a safer world.

A year later, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. A report by David Kay indicated that, yes, the Iraqis probably were doing some chemical and biological weapon research and were trying to get their hands on stuff to make nuclear weapons, but there is no solid evidence of weapons of mass destruction ready for launching at the United States or any other country. U.S. troops have not been able to find what U.N. inspectors couldn’t find.

A year later, more than 550 Americans are dead, nearly 100 troops from other coalition countries are dead, thousands of coalition troops have been injured, tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead and injured. In other words, tens of thousands of human beings are now dead and injured.

A year later, the United States has spent more than $138 billion on the war. This means funds that could have been used for much needed social programs went, and continue to go, to fighting this war. According to the Center for Defense Information, Bush is requesting $399 billion in discretionary spending for the military for FY 2004, which is $16.9 billion above current spending. Meanwhile, states are facing huge deficits–$70 to $85 billion, according to faireconomy.org–and are making deep cuts in basic services like schools, libraries, health care services and law enforcement.

Forty-four million Americans are without health insurance (from a report by a U.S. Senate taskforce). More than 34 million Americans are living in poverty, according to a September 2003 Census report. I find that unacceptable for the richest nation in the world.

A year later, the administration is still playing to special interests, such as the oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies and the far right and ignoring the interests of most Americans.

A year later, Bin Laden is still loose, and we do not know if America is any safer than it was before 9/11. Our civil liberties are eroding; even the courts have now started scrutinizing some of the more controversial measures in the Patriot Act. A year later, with tens of thousands of people dead and injured, I say no to war and occupation, and yes to peace and justice.