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U.S. involvement in Iraq must come to a halt

The U.S. military must withdraw all of its personnel and bases from the sovereign country of Iraq, and it must begin this process immediately.

Sunday marked the third anniversary of foreign military occupation of Iraq. The economic cost of the war thus far has been more than $248 billion. According to a study by Nobel Prize-winning Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public policy lecturer Linda Bilmes, it may end up costing an estimated $2 trillion when accounting for expenses such as care for Iraq war veterans.

But the human costs have been more remarkable. According to a study by the medical journal The Lancet, in the first year and a half of the war, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Sixty-seven journalists have been killed since the start of the invasion, comparable to the 68 killed during WWII.

More than 2,300 U.S. military personnel have died in the operations and more than 16,000 have been injured.

It is common knowledge that conditions in Iraq were unacceptable under the dictator Saddam Hussein. But like many Iraqis who have been interviewed, Entisar Mohammad Ariabi, an Iraqi pharmacist who spoke at USF on Wednesday, said that conditions for most Iraqis are much worse under U.S. occupation than under the Saddam dictatorship.

In violation of the Convention on Chemical Weapons, the U.S. military has used chemical weapons – namely white phosphorus – in the Iraqi city of Falluja. The agent burns through skin to the bone and cannot be extinguished by water.

In violation of the Geneva Convention, the government has made torture an integral part of interrogation. According to an Amnesty International report, more than 14,000 people are being held without trial in Iraqi prisons.

The suggestion that the United States must fund or help fund the reconstruction of the country it has destroyed is one that many people approve of, regardless of their stance on the occupation. But if that reconstruction is to be successful, it must be organized by Iraqis rather than American companies funded with no-bid contracts.

The presence of the United States is a disruption to Iraq, a country that cannot return to order until the occupation ends. It is the responsibility of Congress to listen to the American and Iraqi people and stop the war.