Statement of the American Friends Service Committee on the Immediate Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Iraq 

December 22, 2004

The AFSC Board of Directors, gathered in worship in Philadelphia, adopted the following minute:

The Board of the American Friends Service Committee grieves at the ongoing and increasing deaths of Iraqis, Americans, and others in Iraq, including as many as 100,000 civilian deaths and many more maimed.

We believe that an immediate end to hostilities is essential to stem the carnage.

We are convinced that the presence of U.S. troops is a destabilizing force in the region and contributes to the increasing loss of life.

We are anguished by the damage and lasting scars we are causing to another generation of American soldiers who have been asked to serve in another war in a distant place for questionable ends.

Therefore, we urge the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.  

We believe it is now clear that the continuing U.S. military presence in Iraq is counter-productive and wrong. The occupation has lost the trust of the Iraqi people. We abhor the violence—each day Iraq becomes less safe for the occupied, the occupiers, and those who seek to relieve the suffering.

We have struggled since the beginning of the occupation with the role of U.S. forces in Iraq. Our Quaker faith tells us that military solutions are always wrong. But we also realized that a sudden withdrawal of troops after the toppling of the Hussein regime might have further destabilized Iraq and increased the danger to its citizens.

At the outbreak of the war, leaders of Quaker organizations in the U.S. warned:

This is a choice we know will have enormous and tragic consequences -- many as yet unimagined -- for the Iraqi people, for our own nation, and for the world. It is a choice we believe was unnecessary, immoral, and unwise, especially since it was taken before all the nonviolent and diplomatic alternatives were exhausted; indeed, before some were even explored.

In November 2003, AFSC declared:

The U.S. invasion and a poorly conceived occupation have created danger and chaos in a country already devastated by years of international economic sanctions and a dictatorship that squandered valuable resources on military adventures. Iraq's government and its institutions have been destroyed and a foreign army cannot and should not fill the void. With each passing week, more Iraqis grow angry and refuse to cooperate with a provisional authority and occupation forces that they view as both illegitimate and ineffective. In this climate, both American troops and Iraqis who cooperate with them become targets of violence.

One year later, the violence continues to escalate. U.S. forces have resumed offensive operations and more than 1,000 American soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians have perished since the President declared an end to major combat in May of 2003.

Since President Bush's declaration, AFSC has consistently called attention to the fact that by law the U.S. is responsible for the success or failure of the military occupation. Iraqis, the international community, and the U.S. public will judge success, not by how swiftly military action toppled the Hussein regime, but rather by how it:

  • Establishes and maintains security for Iraqis,
  • Restores basic services, including electricity, water, health care, and education,
  • Revives the local economy to meet day-to-day as well as recovery needs of Iraqis,
  • Effects a rapid transition to a sovereign representative Iraqi government,
  • Assures the active presence of the international community in Iraq's rehabilitation, represented by the UN and non-governmental organizations, and
  • Demonstrates responsibility in the allocation of U.S. funds.

On all these points the U.S. has failed. As a result, the troop presence in Iraq has lost the support of the Iraqi people and, by most accounts, the U.S. public. All of these events confirm our long-held belief that violence can only beget further violence.

The U.S. must give way, so that the UN and other agencies, working with the Iraqi interim government, can bring peace and stability. The AFSC believes that the United States has lost the moral standing to achieve the necessary healing, but remains responsible to support financially those institutions and agencies which can do so.