IRAQ: THE PEOPLE'S REPORT

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Contact: Sue Udry: 301-325-1201; Leslie Cagan: 212-868-5545; Erik Leaver: 202-787-5240

For Immediate Release: September 10th, 2007

With General Petraeus claiming significant progress in Iraq, United for Peace and Justice, the largest national coalition of peace organizations with some 1,400 member groups, deplores his misleading and cynical report to Congress. The "surge" of U.S. forces in Iraq has not led to security, stability or peace. In fact, this past summer was the deadliest since the costofwarwar began in 2003. General Petraeus' recommendation to withdraw one Marine unit this month and a bridge combat team sometime in December comes nowhere near ending the U.S. military engagement in Iraq.

United for Peace and Justice has produced an assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq that contrasts sharply with the comments from General Petraeus, which barely mention the impact the U.S. war and occupation has on the lives of the people of Iraq.

Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator of UFPJ, says, "We feel it is essential to provide a true picture of what the shattered lives of the 25 million Iraqis look like today. For four years now we have been hearing the same false claims that the U.S. is making important gains, but they have never been true. Prepared by Phyllis Bennis and Erik Leaver, researchers at the Institute for Policy Studies, Iraq: The People's Report, takes an honest look at what this war has cost the people in Iraq and our communities here in the U.S."

Iraq: The People's Report notes that:

  • Two million Iraqis have fled the war to seek hard-to-find refuge in neighboring countries, and an additional two million Iraqis have been forced by war fueled violence to flee their homes and remain displaced and homeless inside Iraq.

  • Most Iraqis have electricity for only about five hours a day, clean water remains scarce for most and unobtainable for many, and Iraq's oil production remains a fraction of what it was before war.

  • Occupation, war and violence have so decimated the Iraqi economy that unemployment has reached up to 40% and higher, and underemployment an additional 10% or more.

In spite of the appalling conditions that most Iraqis now find themselves living in, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are trying to convince Congress that the situation is improving. "We hope that Congress will remember that these small improvements in a horrific situation have cost U.S. taxpayers over $480 billion so far, with no end in sight," remarked Sue Udry, Legislative Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice. "That is $480 billion that we could not spend here at home to rebuild the Gulf Coast, improve education or healthcare and more."

The People's Report also notes that:

The failure of the Iraq War has also meant a huge cost to our democracy at home. We have paid an enormous price: in the deaths and shattered minds and bodies of our young soldiers; in the threats to an economy ravaged by billion-dollar bills to pay for an illegal war; in the destruction of so much of our infrastructure, security and social fabric because of human and financial resources diverted to Iraq; and in the shredding of our Constitution and civil rights as fear becomes a weapon in the hands of the Bush administration aimed at Congress, the courts and the people of this country.

United for Peace and Justice has been working throughout the summer to pressure members of Congress to take a firm stand against the White House. "General Petraeus' testimony today illustrates once again the urgency of congressional action," observed Leslie Cagan, UFPJ's National Coordinator. "Congress has the constitutional right and moral obligation to use the power of the purse to force a complete withdrawal from Iraq. The people of this country are looking to them to take leadership in this effort."

Sue Udry, UFPJ's Legislative Coordinator, said, "In the weeks ahead, the pressure on Congress to rein in the White House will accelerate. The public knows this policy is a failure and wants a rapid change of course."

The full report from United for Peace and Justice is available for download in two formats: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/downloads/peoplesreport.pdf
http://www.unitedforpeace.org/downloads/people_s_report_11by17.pdf

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