Iraq Policy in Short
*To read the policy in full, see further below
Preface: I wrote this paper during Campaign 2008. NATO fighting forces, including those of the U.S., have since completely pulled out of Iraq. (Although at this point – 2014 – in the face of the mounting Al Qaeda / Taliban / ISIS violent insurgency in Iraq, total withdrawal may not have been the best tact. See: 12) End Note.) However, I have left this paper up because it provides a good template for how I would approach similar types of potential war situations in the future. And, again, the End Note will provide a look at how I would approach the situation in Iraq now, and in the future.
"I wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq," said Schriner. -- Xenia (OH) News
"What if we let the weapons inspectors into Montana?" Joe, ABC News, Toledo, Ohio
"Schriner said he believed changes could have been made in Iraq through non-violent means, just as Martin Luther King Jr. did in the south and Ghandi did in India." -Valley Courier, Alamosa, Colorado.
I would have weighed a potential, pre-emptive war in Iraq (and any possible future war), against the criteria of Just War principles. In this case, it didn't match up.
Before declaring any war, I would go to Congress, not with a pre-conceived plan, but with an open mind. And I would respect the consensus decision. Likewise, I would go to the U.N. with the same type of paradigm.
What's more, we went into Iraq predicated on finding weapons of mass destruction. They weren't there. (I told the Cortez (CO) Journal that the irony is we have 10,000 weapons of mass destruction (nuclear missiles) aimed all over the world!).
Our actions have destabilized Iraq, opening the door to sectarian civil war.
Our actions have also galvanized jihad (Holy War) alliances and significant insurgency into Iraq. And it has stoked more anti-US sentiment in the Arab world in general.
We are now looked at as occupiers interested in controlling Iraq oil.
There have been massive civilian deaths and maiming. And there are now 1.8 million Iraq refugees, and counting.
Our use of depleted uranium munitions (bullets and bunker-busting bombs) is leaving Iraq radioactive in many spots and spiking the incidence of cancer and other disease in the civilian populace exponentially.
The Iraq War has diverted attention away from such international crisis as the genocide in Sudan, and diverted a tremendous amount of money that could have been used to cut world hunger, fight disease, help reverse global warming.
At home, the Iraq War has meant U.S. military deaths and maiming, significant cuts to domestic social programs, increasing emotionally disturbed families from new cases of soldier post- traumatic stress syndrome.
*A growing negative could be turned into a tremendous positive -- for world peace.
As president, I would extend a formal, and heartfelt, apology to the Iraqi people (and the world) for starting the war, for killing civilians and military, and for destabilizing the country. (I told the Athens (OH) Post that these types of civilian deaths aren't inevitable collateral damage, they are Moms, Dads, children.)
Set up an Iraq War Victims Fund intended for families of war victims, including for families of those who died from the U.S. urged, and U.N. backed, 12 year sanctions against Iraq before the war. (An estimated one million Iraqis died as a result of these sanctions, some 500,000 of them children.)
As president, I would also formally apologize for starting a pre-emptive war predicated on finding weapons of mass destruction. I would also admit there is a tremendous duality in telling other nations they can't have WMD's -- when we have the biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world.
Nix recently-proposed uranium upgrades of our nuclear weapons and propose we unilaterally disarm these nuclear weapons. This would free up money to help Iraq rebuild - with Iraqi contractors - and free up money for other domestic and worldwide humanitarian projects.
Call for an immediate end to the use of depleted uranium munitions.
If we were still wanted, I would lean toward the Iraq Study Group's recent proposal to move more U.S. troops out of combat and get them more involved with training and supporting the Iraqi military. In addition (and also in line with the Study Group's report), I would ready some U.S. brigades to leave Iraq by the first quarter of my presidency.
Carry out the Study Group's report recommendation that calls for more diplomacy in the Middle East. (The report states that the Israeli/Arab conflict and regional instability must be addressed in total to help deescalate the situation in Iraq.) This would include setting up talks between Israel, Lebanon and Palestine leaders.
Approach the United Nations about more UN Peacekeepers in Iraq.
Propose each Iraqi get yearly oil dividends to help them recover, and recommend the U.S. match these for a five year period.
In line with Study Group recommendations, I would also declare publicly, that the U.S. seeks no control of Iraq oil.
Our administration would work stridently to move America away from dependence on foreign and domestic oil (and all that brings with pollution, global warming, urban sprawl).
Set up a division within the State Department to offer as much help as possible to Iraqi refugees to help them either resettle, or with their transition to another country.
In the aftermath of the Iraq War, I would urge Truth and Reconciliation hearings throughout Iraq (like what was used in the aftermath of Apartheid in South Africa) to help quell residual sectarian strife.
Help institute an Iraqi version the Ulster Project, which has been successful in reversing some of the prejudice and hate for future generations of Northern Ireland youth. (I believe this would work with Sunni and Shiite youth.)
Through a proposed U.S. Department of Peace, I would recommend U.S./Iraq Sister Cities to mobilize even more financial help, cultural exchange and camaraderie.
*Through all this, as Iraq (and the Middle East in general) saw our earnest efforts at apology, amends and peace building, some of the tension and anti-U.S. sentiment would diminish in kind - as might worldwide terrorism. And even more importantly, the combined effort may well domino into much more world peace.
Iraq Position Paper
“A terrorist group looks as good to a (poverty stricken) kid in Baghdad, as a gang does to a (poverty stricken) kid in Chicago,” Schriner said. –Cortez (CO) Journal
“…he [Schriner] said he would have handled the situation (in Iraq) differently by lifting sanctions to allow the Iraqis necessary food and medication.” – The Post, Athens, Ohio.
“Schriner said he believed changes could have been made in Iraq through non-violent means, just as Martin Luther King Jr. did in the south and Ghandi did in India.” –Valley Courier, Alamosa, Colorado
Categories covered in the position paper below: Preface 1) The Issues; 2) The Plan; 3) Justified “Collateral Damage” (Civilian Deaths)?; 4) Destabilizing and Changing International Alliances; 5) What about Our Weapons of Mass Destruction?; 6) No to Depleted Uranium Munitions; 7) Iraqi Refugee Dilemma; 8) On the Ground in Baghdad; 9) New Guidelines for Torture?; 10) Costs to the World; 11) Costs to the U.S.; 12) End Note
I wrote this paper during Campaign 2008. NATO fighting forces, including those of the U.S., have since completely pulled out of Iraq. (Although at this point – 2014 – in the face of the mounting Al Qaeda / Taliban violent insurgency in Iraq, total withdrawal may not have been the best tact. See: 12) End Note.) However, I have left this paper up because it provides a good template for how I would approach similar types of potential war situations in the future. And, again, the End Note will provide a look at how I would approach the situation in Iraq now, and in the future.
1) The Issues
When looking at the Iraq War through the lens of “Just War” principles (which would be our administration’s yard stick for going to war), it doesn’t match up.
For instance, Just War Principles stipulate: “The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”
In light of this, there is a good case to be made that the bad is far outweighing the potential good in Iraq at this point.
Estimates on civilian deaths in Iraq vary, but it has been tremendously significant. The UN estimates that just in the year 2006 alone, there were some 34,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. (Our administration would also count as civilian “war deaths” the almost one million people who died during U.S. backed, and UN imposed, sweeping sanctions in Iraq between 1991 and 2003.)
The Iraq War has also united insurgency groups throughout the Middle East to fight a “Holy War” (jihad) against the United States. And as the resistance is becoming more successful in Iraq, it is galvanizing more and more support throughout the Arab World – and stoking more anti-U.S. sentiment.
Also, we launched a war predicated on finding weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there. And the tragic irony, I told the Cortez (CO) Journal, is: “We have 10,000 weapons of mass destruction (nuclear missiles) aimed all over the world!”
During a talk at St. Leo’s College in St. Leo, Florida, I said outside of here we have to look like one of the biggest terrorist nations on the planet, with our nuclear arsenal. Added to this, American military is using depleted-uranium tipped bullets and bombs that are leaving Iraq literally radioactive and exponentially spiking the incidence of cancer, birth defects, and other disorders.
Our action has also destabilized Iraq, opening the door to sectarian Civil War between the Shiites and Sunnis. Given that these two peoples have considered each other “religious apostates” for centuries, our administration would have been a lot more considered about waging war in Iraq, with the possibility of destabilizing the country.
The humanitarian crisis is compounded as 60,000 to 90,000 Iraq refugees are now fleeing Iraq – every month.
Also, Just War Principles would prohibit going to war to, among other things, “obtain wealth.” And there are all kinds of indicators that part of our rationale for going into Iraq is to have a hand in controlling the oil supply, the second largest in the world.
The Iraq War “cost to the world” has been great as well. It has diverted attention and resources away from such international crisis as the genocide in Sudan. It has diverted tremendous amounts of money that could have been used to cut world hunger, fight disease, help reverse global warming… (America is now spending $2 billion a week on the war.)
And on the home front, the Iraq War has meant U.S. military deaths and maiming, significant cuts in social programs, emotionally disturbed and fractured military families – as the next wave of post traumatic stress disorder plays itself out.
Granted, hindsight is 20/20.
And this is not an indictment of the Bush Administration.
It is an assessment of what’s gone wrong. And the following is a plan for how to, not only fix it, but to forge a future of strengthened international alliances, with the potential for much more world peace. It is also a chance for us: to learn from history.
2) The Plan
We have traveled the country extensively listening to experts’, and average citizens’, takes on the Iraq War. Based on some of what we’ve heard, we’ve crafted the following plan.
And at the outset, it is important to say that what we currently see as a tremendous negative – could be used to create world peace on a grand scale.
As president, I would initially go to Iraq and offer a formal apology to the Iraqi people for the civilian deaths that are so often cavalierly referred to as “inevitable collateral damage.” These are Moms, Dads, kids…
I would then set up an Iraq War Victim’s Family Fund (like the Fund for the families of the Sept. 11th victims). The Fund would not only be intended for the families of war victims, but the families of victims who died during the stringent sanctions on Iraq prior to the war.
I would also formally apologize for starting a preemptive war predicated on finding weapons of mass destruction. Not only weren’t they there, but I would admit there is, indeed, a tremendous duality between telling other nations they can’t have weapons of mass destruction – but we have 10,000 of them (nuclear missiles) aimed all at targets all over the world.
As a way of tangible amends, I propose not only nixing proposed uranium upgrades (at billions of dollars) of our current nuclear missiles, but I would propose unilateral disarmament of our existing nuclear weapons. And with all these savings, I’d fund (among other things) the rebuilding of Iraq’s infrastructure.
And I would propose the rebuilding contracts go primarily to Iraqi firms, not American firms.
I would suspend the use of uranium-depleted munitions, for good. And I would suspend torture of any terrorist/insurgent suspects, in Iraq or out.
I would call for a general populace vote in Iraq to see if a majority wanted us there at all.
Either way, I would institute an incremental step of U.S. troops down and ask for replacements with U.N. Peacekeepers. At the same time, I would incrementally start to dismantle the more than 100 bases we’ve established in Iraq.
Our administration’s paradigm would not be to have presence there so we could protect “America’s interests,” (read: oil).
To help individual Iraqis recover, I would suggest the Iraqi populace get individual, yearly oil revenue dividends (like every Alaskan currently gets). And I would propose America matches these dividends for the next five years.
I would propose this money come from a Federal tax on gasoline in America. (Most Americans, in a de facto way, are partially responsible for the Iraq War because of our dependence on foreign oil. This, in turn, drives policy decisions like going into Iraq.)
Our administration would work stridently to move America away from dependence on foreign, and domestic, oil (and all that brings: pollution, global warming, urban sprawl…). And we would exhort people to sacrifice when it comes to energy use and switch to alternative forms of energy, whether wind, solar geothermal. (See our Energy Policy position paper.)
I would also set up a division within the State Department specifically for Iraq refugees – there are currently 1.8 million Iraqis who have fled the country. And I would relax criteria for them if they wanted to resettle in the United States. I would also suggest much more funding for those who want to eventually resettle back in Iraq, from any part of the world.
In addition, I would request additional funding for such non-governmental agencies as The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to help Iraqi refugees as well.
In the aftermath of the Iraq War, I would urge (and seeking funding for) such initiatives as Truth and Reconciliation that worked so well in the relatively bloodless aftermath of the transition from Apartheid in South Africa to help quell some of the residual sectarian strife now present in Iraq.
And in tandem, I would look to instituting a version of the Ulster Project, which has been successful in reversing some of the prejudice and hate for future generations of Northern Ireland youth. I believe a similar initiative would work with Sunni and Shiite youth.
Through the U.S. Department of Peace that we propose, I would also recommend setting up an Iraq/U.S. Sister Cities project to mobilize even more help into that country and start to establish better international relations. (American cities with the same size and demographics could pair with similar Iraqi cities and towns to establish a conduit of funds, cultural exchange, trips…)
And it is my belief that as the rest of the Middle East saw our earnest efforts at apology, amends and peace building, some of the tension and anti-U.S. sentiment would ease. (And as a domino effect, some of the terrorism threats might diminish as well.)
What’s more, the world would come closer together.
The following is a much more in-depth look at each component of the issues and each component of the plan:
3) Justified “Collateral Damage” (Civilian Deaths)?
As president, I would start with a formal apology to the Iraqi people, and Arabs throughout the Middle East, for killing scores of innocent civilians in Iraq. Then I would set up a U.S. Iraq War Victim Family Fund to financially help survivors (just like there was a fund for family members of victims of September 11th).
I told The Athens (OH) Post that I was strongly opposed to the Bush Administration’s willingness to tolerate so cavalierly (it seems to me) so many civilian deaths (and there have been a lot) as “inevitable collateral damage.”
Our administration would subscribe to the Augustinian “Just War Doctrine.”
One of the provisions in the Just War Principles is: “The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”
In other words, it’s possible for nations to use excessive, destructive force when stopping an aggressor, resulting in more casualties than would have occurred if the aggression had been allowed to run its course.
Figures vary on the civilian injury and death tolls in Iraq. But they have been extensive.
As of January 2007, the Iraq Body Count Project estimates there have been between 53,040 to 58,543 civilian deaths due to insurgent military action and increased criminal violence.
The Lancet Study out of England estimates that as of July 2006, there has been a staggering 655,000 Iraqi deaths because of war, increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poorer health…
And it is our contention, the Iraq War started long before the 2003 invasion. It started with the U.S. urged, and U.N. backed, Iraq sanctions put into effect after the first Gulf War in 1991.
According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, these were perhaps the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions in history. The sanctions included medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity.
President George H. W. Bush stated: “By making life uncomfortable for the Iraqi people, (sanctions) would eventually encourage them to remove President Saddam Hussein from power.” –Seattle-Post Intelligencer (Aug. 7, 2003).
This never happened.
What’s more, estimates indicate some one million Iraqis died because of the sanctions, and UNICEF put the number of child deaths at 500,000 between 1991 and the U.S. led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
President George W. Bush consulted with Pope John Paul II prior to the preemptive strike into Iraq. The media reported the Pope strongly urged President Bush not to attack Iraq. According to the Pope, the proposed action didn’t line up with Just War criteria.
Shortly after Bush’s meeting with the Pope, and prior to the start of the Iraq invasion, I took to the streets as part of a peace march in Findlay, Ohio.
I told the Findlay Courier newspaper that I was marching in solidarity with the Pope on this issue because I believed our proposed action would put too many innocent people in harm’s way and the action would, most likely, significantly destabilize Iraq – and perhaps the rest of the Middle East region.