The invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, was based on false claims about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. It followed the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, which began on October 7, 2001, and is now the longest running officially declared war in U.S. history. This combined so-called “War on Terror” has, by conservative estimates, resulted in deaths due to direct war violence of at least 330,000 people – including civilians, humanitarian workers, journalists and combatants of different nationalities. The number of indirect deaths due to after-effects of fighting, unexploded munitions, malnutrition, damaged health infrastructure and environmental degradation resulting from these conflicts is likely four times the number of direct deaths – or more than one million. Moreover, these figures do not include the toll the U.S.’s global “War on Terror” has taken on people and communities in other countries where the U.S. war-making has spilled over, as in Yemen, nor the countries where the U.S. operated or made use of black sites and torture programs. Nor do they include the toll on the U.S.’s Muslim communities and its poor communities, often communities of color, that have disproportionately borne the burdens of the wars.
The violent consequences of these wars have resulted in additional hundreds of thousands of casualties – physical, mental and emotional injuries to individuals and communities that in some cases cannot be healed and in others will take decades, indeed generations, to overcome, even with due and adequate reparations, which have not been made. For the millions of civilians impacted by these wars, who have lost loved ones, been displaced, harmed and terrorized by the direct and indirect effects of the war-marking policies and practices of the U.S. and its few allies, the so-called war on terror has been instead a global war of terror.
On the ten-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, two civil society organizations in Iraq and U.S. veterans opposed to the war unite in their struggle to heal and demand that the U.S. government take responsibility for the enduring harms inflicted by the misguided and illegal war-making. The Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq jointly present this report to identify and acknowledge the devastating and long-lasting health effects suffered by Iraqis and U.S. servicemembers and the constellation, magnitude and scope of the grave human rights violations perpetuated by the U.S.’s conduct of the war and its responsibility for these harms. This report focuses in large part on physical and psychological trauma, serious health effects of exposure to highly toxic and carcinogenic materials, the use of torture, including sexual and gender-based violence, during the war and occupation and the intensifying climate of gender-based violence, and persecution. While this report focuses on the legacy of the war in Iraq, many of the issues addressed likely also apply to the conduct of the war in Afghanistan, in particular the use of weapons comprised of depleted uranium, burn pits, and torture and sexual violence as well as the traumatic effects of loss of family members, forced displacement and the climate of violence and uncertainty.. In part, this report is based on interviews with active servicemembers who wish to remain anonymous. When such interviews are referenced, they are referred either by a pseudonym followed by an “*” or by their interview number.
Photo courtesy of OWFI
The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq collects signatures in Baghdad in support of a
hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the human rights impacts
and lasting harms of the U.S. war and occupation.
 While military involvement in Vietnam had been building for some time, the official formal beginning of the military intervention is dated from Congress’s passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in August 1964. U.S. troops were withdrawn 103 months later in March 1973. See, e.g., Rick Hampson, Afghanistan: America’s Longest War, USA Today, May 28, 2010, available at http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-05-27-longest-war-afghanistan_N.htm.
 See Cost of War Project, 330,000 Killed by Violence, $4 Trillion Spent and Obligated, Watson Institution for International Studies, Brown University, available at http://costsofwar.org/.
 Id. See also Neta C. Crawford, Civilian Death and Injury in Iraq, 2003-2011, Costs of War Project, Sept. 2011, available at http://costsofwar.org/sites/default/files/CrawfordIraqCivilians.pdf.