Opposition to the Continuation of the War in Iraq

  • Date: Nov 08 2006
  • Policy Number: 200617

Key Words: Appropriations, Armed Forces, Ethics, Federal Appropriations, Human Rights, International Health, Mental Health, Military, Warfare

The American Public Health Association,

Recalling policy statements approved by the American Public Health Association (APHA) Governing Council opposing the initiation and continuation of the war in Iraq1,2 and calling for the redirection of funds to expand U.S. public health services;1

Recognizing that two credible reports with different methodology released since November 2004 have indicated that the U.S. led military conflict in Iraq since March 2003 has resulted in the estimated deaths of between 45,0003 and 600,000 or more4 Iraqi civilians, with well documented human rights violations against Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib and other U.S. controlled facilities;

Recognizing that the military conflict since 2003 has resulted in the extensive destruction of Iraqi society and health-supporting infrastructure;5

Noting that the military conflict since 2003 has resulted in widespread environmental damage and contamination, including destruction of vital environmental health services, such as water-delivery and waste water treatment, and pollution of the environment including the still unaccounted for dispersal of depleted uranium (DU) in many populated areas of Iraq;5

Recognizing that the continued U.S. military occupation of Iraq, and reported Pentagon plans to establish "enduring bases" in Iraq,6 has provoked widespread opposition among broad sectors of Iraqi society, engendering continued support for a growing insurgency;7

Recognizing that the military conflict has already resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 U.S. and allied soldiers,8 as well as hundreds of forces serving as private contractors hired by Foreign Military Firms (FMFs).6 Overall, the conflict has resulted in more than 21,000 U.S. and allied forces being wounded in action, with many very serious and disabling injuries, requiring costly rehabilitation services, particularly for the estimated 20 percent of the wounded with brain and spinal injuries;9

Noting that a comprehensive Pentagon study published in March 2006 revealed that more than one in three soldiers and Marines who served in Iraq later sought help for mental health and/or behavioral disorders;10

Understanding that U.S. veterans of the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced significant problems including family adjustments, unemployment and post-traumatic stress; 

Recognizing that as of November 2006, military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost at least approximately $340 billion,11 with the current administration requesting an additional $120 billion for military operations through the end of 2006, supplementing the requested $439.3 billion FY 2007 Defense Department budget.12 Such fiscal costs, occurring in the context of large and rising domestic U.S. budget deficits, have already led to proposed slashing of essential public health programs and services for the American people;13

Understanding that total fiscal costs of the military conflict in Iraq represent resources that could better be used to address current and future domestic and global public health and environmental health needs,14 and to develop alternative and sustainable energy sources that could address the looming crisis of global climate change and could indirectly help reduce the risks of terrorism. 

Therefore, APHA calls on the U.S. government to:

  1. Immediately initiate the safe withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Iraq, accompanied by selected deployment of replacement international peacekeeping troops under the command of the United Nations in areas of potential significant risk for inter ethnic conflict or civil war; 
  2. Halt plans to establish "enduring" U.S. military bases in Iraq; 
  3. Support a United Nations led process to oversee continued efforts to develop an Iraqi constitution that respects the rights and interests of all domestic ethnic and political groupings, generally based on established UN principles of international human and economic rights;
  4. Abide by international standards of human rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the U.S. Constitution, by immediately and unequivocally ending such practices as the imprisonment of persons arbitrarily defined as "enemy combatants" without access to lawyers, habeas corpus petitions or judicial review; to end the use of torture, including the outsourcing of torture by so called "rendition" of prisoners to other nations known for their systematic employment of such abuses in interrogation and the establishment of secret prisons;
  5. Guarantee the security of, and priority for, the reconstruction of vital health-supporting infrastructure in Iraq and to ensure safe access to this infrastructure by the Iraqi people; 
  6. Guarantee that adequate resources are provided for the care and rehabilitation of physically and psychologically injured U.S. military personnel and their families; 
  7. Provide needed funds, in coordination with NATO nations and regional Mideast allies, for aforementioned reconstruction and security assistance, to be disbursed by UN agencies and Iraqi acceptable NGOs; and
  8. Immediately allow agencies such as the United Nations Environmental Program to begin to characterize the extent of all environmental contamination in Iraq caused by the military conflict, and to adequately fund efforts to protect Iraqi civilians and all soldiers involved in the conflict from the consequences of any established or potential environmental exposures.

References: 

  1. APHA Policy Statement 2002 11 Opposing War in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. http://www.apha.org/legislative/policy/policysearch/index.cfm?fuseaction=view&id=287. 
  2. APHA Policy Statement 9923 Opposing War in the Middle East. 
  3. http://www.apha.org/legislative/policy/policysearch/index.cfm?fuseaction=view&id=194 
  4. Iraq Body Count http://www.iraqbodycount.net Accessed November 5, 2006. 
  5. Burnham G, Lafta R, Doocy S, Roberts L. Mortality After the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey. www.thelancet.com. Published online October 11, 2006.
  6. Johnson L. "Use of depleted uranium weapons lingers as health concern" Seattle Post-Intelligencer (August 4, 2003). Accessed November 15, 2006, from http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/133581_du04.html; "US to use depleted uranium". BBC News. (March 18, 2003). Accessed November 15, 2006, from
  7. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/2860759.stm; Tully AF. "Concerns rise over DU ammunition use in Iraq"/International Security Network. (September 5, 2003). Accessed November 15, 2006, from http://www.isn.ch/news/sw/details_print.cfm?id=7393. 
  8. Singer PW. Outsourcing War. Foreign Affairs. March/April 2005 
  9. "U.S. report says Iraq war has fueled terror threat"/CNN. (September 25, 2006). Accessed online November 15, 2006 at http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/24/iraq.main/index.html.
  10. "Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Casualties." CNN. http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/ Accessed November 5, 2006. 
  11. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf. Accessed November 5, 2006; Uchitelle L, When Talk of Guns and Butter Includes Lives Lost. New York Times, January 15, 2006. 
  12. Hoge CW, Auchterlonie, JL, Milliken CS. Mental Health Problems, Use of Mental Health Services, and Attrition From Military Service After Returning From Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. JAMA. 2006;295:1023-1032.
  13. National Priorities Project. The Cost of the Iraq War. http://costofwar.com/index.html. Accessed November 5, 2006.
  14. Cloud DS. $120 Billion More Is Sought For Military in War Zones. New York Times, February 3, 2006.
  15. Goldstein A. Bush's Budget Bolsters Pentagon. $2.77 Trillion Plan For 2007 Would Trim Most Agencies. Washington Post, February 7, 2006.
  16. Sachs J. The End of Poverty. Economic Possibilities for Our Time. The Penguin Press, 2005.

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