The map of Iraq filled the television screen, while audio played from Baghdad. My sister turned four March 4, the day an official cease fire was signed, but children at the Ameriyah shelter in Baghdad were not so fortunate.
Kathy Kelly writes:
"There, on February 13, 1991, two 2,000 lb. U.S. laser guided missiles killed 400 civilians, mostly women and children. Another 200 were severely wounded. I wish President Joe Biden could meet the Pope there and ask him to hear his confession."
Promoting dialogue as he did in his 2019 visit to the Arab Emirates, the upcoming apostolic journey, March 5-8, Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Baghdad, and the next day go to Najaf in central Iraq to meet Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Husayni al-Sistani, the 90-year-old spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiite Muslims. An interreligious meeting will follow at the Plain of Ur, the birthplace of the patriarch Abraham. On Sunday, March 7, in the Kurdistan region the Pope arrives in the northern city Erbil, where on Feb. 16 a missile struck an airbase near the airport, and spend a few hours in the Nineveh Plains region with stops at Mosul, and Qaraqosh.
22-years-old, I made my way in a van with LA Catholic Workers up the coastal highway. Jeff Dietrich got out some miles short of the base to complete a daily run. When he arrived, I was admiring for the first time, Kathy Kelly speaking at the gates of Vandenberg AFB about her experience of the horrors of the "shock and awe" campaign continuing the plagues since 1991 of bombing, followed by a decade of sanctions decimating civilians.
This was the spring 2005 and planning was underway for the first Witness Against Torture apostolic journey to Guantanamo. This was the year James Yee with Aimee Molloy was publishing his memoir as a Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo "For God and Country," and Moazzam Begg with Victoria Brittain were writing his memoir Enemy Combatant following his January release, following outcry in his home country the UK. Meanwhile, President H.W. Bush's popularity of 57% early Feb fell by mid-November to 37% while denying reports from Abu Ghraib showing that the U.S. tortures--while continuing to paint Saddam Hussein as the mad torturing monster. We didn't have the names of men held in Guantanamo yet. But in Tom Wilner with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Al Odah v. the United States was seeking the right of habeas corpus for the imprisoned Kuwaiti men held prisoner in Guantanamo. By widespread pressure, Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 which included sec. 1003 "Prohibition on Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of persons under custody or control of the United States Government". Fifteen years later, Abdul Latif Nasser remains in the prison camp today. Send him home--sign the petition here
As we mourn the indication that these forever wars will further impact civilians we are not surprised by the recent U.S. missile strike last week, or yesterday's retaliation. Defending charges of illegal violation of national sovereignty, illegal usurpation of war powers, Biden may claim his the authority of President, an evolving Imperial authority that he himself argued to give President H.W. Bush in 2002 as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee seeking launch of the Iraq invasion.
A year ago, Democracy Now aired a clip from Mark Weisbot's documentary Dr. Barbara Ransby, author of Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century, says "Used his control over that committee, as Foreign Relations Committee Chair to make sure that a majority of the U.S. senate voted to authorize the war. The statement of U.S. biological weapons was false didn't allow these experts to testify. He controlled the information that Senators received. He bears much more responsibility than other senators who simply voted in favor."
"The threat need not be imminent, for us to take action" then Senator Joseph Biden said October 10, 2002, "that's the authority that we will be delegating to the President."
Francis Boyle, "Biden Bombing Syria: “Illegal” 26 Feb. 2021 Institute for Public Accuracy.
Pope Francis. "A Document on Human Fraternity: For World Peace and Living Together" Apostolic Journey of his Holiness Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates 3-5 February 2019. link here <http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/travels/2019/outside/documents/papa-francesco_20190204_documento-fratellanza-umana.html>
Gallup "High Approval Ratings for President Bush Continue": <https://news.gallup.com/poll/116500/presidential-approval-ratings-george-bush.aspx> accessed 3 March 2021.
Kathy Kelly, "Desert Storm: Blood for Oil" 2 Mar. 2021 Common Dreams link here
Samya Kullab and Lolita C. Baldor "Pentagon: US contractor dies in rocket attack at Iraq base" link here
Edward Pentin, "Pope Francis to break new ground in Iraq but is visit coming at the right time?" 16 Feb. 2021 National Catholic Register here
Patrick Smith, "Iraq asks US make plans for Withdrawal" 10 Jan. 2020 link here
Mark Weisbot, "Worth the Price? Joe Biden and the Launch of the Iraq War" narrated by Danny Glover. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhcuei8_UJM&ab_channel=MarkWeisbrot>.