Remembering the Fall of Baghdad

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Many of you remember the moment like it was yesterday. For me, I was in the DC studios of FoxNews preparing to face off with one of the war’s cheerleaders. On screen was live footage from Baghdad’s Firdos Square. Beginning with Kadhem Sharif and other Iraqis wielding sledgehammers, an effort was underway to pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein. Then with the aid of U.S. troops and an M88 armored recovery vehicle, Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled, symbolically marking the end of his regime.

On the 10th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the beginning of the U.S. ‘nation building’ effort there, we remember all those who gave their lives and our Iraqis friends who continue to struggle for genuine peace and democracy.

Please join EPIC in supporting their efforts. Sign our petition to put Iraq back on the agenda.

Ten years ago today the U.S. took on the heavy responsibility of becoming an occupying power for 25 million Iraqis in a nation as large as the state of California; a responsibility that the Bush administration largely failed to prepare for or meet when it was most critical to show progress. Despite all of the missteps and growing violence that peaked during Iraq’s 2006-08 civil war, on innumerable occasions US service members, Iraqis, and international aid workers courageously found ways to improve the situation, eventually halting and reversing the spiraling violence.

The April 9, 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad’s Firdos Square shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq

Yet one year since the exit of U.S. forces, Iraq remains violent and unstable, struggling with poor infrastructure, weak and insufficiently independent courts, and serious corruption in the public sector. Mass-casualty bombings in Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk and other cities occur almost weekly. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Iraq today is a more dangerous place for civilians than Afghanistan. At the same time, an estimated one million Iraqis remain displaced alongside more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and other vulnerable populations in need.

Through meaningful partnerships with the international community and the people of Iraq, and through modest yet cost-effective humanitarian aid and development assistance programs, the United States has a moral and strategic interest in addressing humanitarian needs of those affected by the war while promoting Iraq’s peace and development. However, if present trends continue, there will be no US aid workers left in Iraq by the end of 2014. We owe it to the people of Iraq and to everyone who served and gave their lives to ensure that U.S. aid workers remain in Iraq as long as there are unmet humanitarian needs.

Sign our petition today and share it with a friend as together we build support for a genuinely responsible, humanitarian policy to end the war.

Erik K. Gustafson

About Erik K. Gustafson

Erik is EPIC's founder and director. As a U.S. veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, Erik has devoted his life to humanitarian action and empowering youth in support of Iraq's peace and development.