Ukraine–Russia war, Iraq war have similar causes

What happened in Iraq is relevant to the “forever wars” our nation pursues as it seeks to increase its military power, writes Athens resident Peggy Gish.

As someone who was in Iraq before, during and in the aftermath of the war working with a peace team over a 16-year period, this 20th anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. invasion (the horror for the Iraqi people began around 6:30 a.m., March 20, Baghdad time) is memorable. I speak about it here, because what happened in Iraq is relevant to the “forever wars” that our nation continues as it seeks to increase its military power in the world, and to transfer our public wealth into the coffers of the military corporations and the wealthy elite of this nation.

The Iraq war, as all of the wars the U.S. has initiated in my lifetime, was based on lies. In the days, weeks, and months after the invasion, there were wide gaps between what the American people were being told and what was really happening there. I saw firsthand how the invasion broke apart a whole society, did not bring safety or democracy to that country, but made life more dangerous and untenable for the people. It unraveled what gains the women of Iraq had made as far as healthcare, education, and general participation in society, and spawned horrific terrorist movements that still threaten areas of the world today. And that war was carried out for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful of our country.

Once again, our nation is transferring our citizens’ wealth in another war, a proxy war with Russia. In this case, Russia is the aggressor and has inflicted horrible pain and damage to the people of Ukraine. I don’t condone what Russia is doing, but am finding it helpful to understand the history leading up to this war and the ways the U.S. and western nations have contributed to it. Western nations have aggressively pushed NATO right up against Russia’s borders, in spite of earlier promises not to when the USSR broke apart and ended the Warsaw pact. Leading up to this conflict, our government pressured Ukrainian leaders to not negotiate with Russia when there were real opportunities that could have prevented or stopped the war before or in its early stages.


A helpful book for understanding the fuller picture is War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless War, by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies, which also doesn’t condone or justify Russia’s actions, but puts it in historical perspective and calls for a diplomatic solution.

It is important that we learn about and not just blindly feed into and prolong this war, for the sake of the Ukrainian people who are suffering, but also to prevent a possible nuclear war. We are at a crisis point in history, in which our current path is leading toward further destroying the earth and suppressing the poor while enriching the wealthy and powerful. A more sure way to seek peace and security in the world is for the U.S. to make a radical shift in our global position — to institute justice, commit to sharing the world’s resources and putting it toward meeting the needs of the people, and building up societies that actually are democratic in following the voice of the people.

Peggy Gish
Athens, OH

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