Notre Dame expert on 20-year anniversary of Iraq war: U.S. has an obligation to assist the Iraqi people

David Cortright, professor emeritus from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in the Keough School of Global Affairs, holds expertise in nonviolent social change, nuclear disarmament and the use of multilateral sanctions and incentives as tools of international peacemaking. He is the co-editor of more than 20 books and has a long history of public advocacy for disarmament and the prevention of war. 

On the 20-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces, Cortright reflected on the U.S.’s continuing obligation to assist the Iraqi people. 

“The U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq caused widespread chaos, death and destruction,” Cortright said. “War, armed insurgency and bitter ethnic strife turned Iraq into a setting of vast economic and social suffering. Violence spread from multiple sources: U.S. bombing and military operations, the armed insurrection that rose against the invasion, the development of militias and extremist groups and the emergence and growth of the Islamic State.”

Cortright noted that one of the most rigorous scientific studies of the period between 2003 and 2011 concluded that approximately half a million deaths were attributable to the direct and indirect consequences of the U.S. war and military occupation. 

Because of the harm U.S. policies created for the country, he says that the U.S. has a special responsibility to help the people of Iraq. 

“We can fulfill that duty by working in concert with other states to provide development and humanitarian assistance for investments in education, health care and employment opportunities for all Iraqis, especially women, who suffered grievously during the war and its violent aftermath.”

Cortright can be reached for interviews or further comments at [email protected] .

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