A Personal Expression of Apology for the Iraq War

As an American citizen, I feel a need to ask forgiveness for some of our actions over the past four years. I address these comments to our friends around the world, to the people of Iraq, and to my fellow citizens.

To people around the world who expressed their condolences to us immediately after the attacks of 9/11/2001, I want to say how sorry I am that we have squandered so much of the goodwill that was evident in your expressions of brotherhood. I’m afraid that we were so hurt and frightened that we were unable to summon up our wisdom, and instead, driven by anger and seeking revenge, have fallen into looking for enemies. When we declared a “war on terrorism” we put on a mantle of self-righteousness, and forgot our ideals. We told you that you either supported us or you sided with the terrorists. We quickly alienated ourselves from much of the world.

I cannot say how sad I feel for the thousands of parents and spouses whose sons and daughters, husbands and wives have gone to war believing that they would help to make the world a safer place, only to come back traumatized, maimed or dead, with so little to show for it. Not only do I grieve for American families, but I grieve for all those who have suffered loss in Iraq. The number of lives that have been destroyed by our actions are uncountable.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, we inadvertently created an environment of antagonism between the Sunnis and Shiites, people who had lived together peacefully in mixed neighborhoods for generations. Our occupation of Iraq has created a situation in which death squads and suicide bombers from both sides are now engaged in daily acts of violence, and our ongoing presence in that country is the cause.

To the Iraqi people, I want to express my sorrow for all the death and destruction we have caused in your country—over 40,000 civilian deaths, the total collapse of the Iraq economy, and now wholesale civil war. We are responsible for this and it brings the deepest sadness to me that we have done this.

My deepest regret is for my own country’s loss of humanitarian principles. We easily espouse our commitment to human rights, but our actions belie our hypocrisy. How can this country claim to represent human rights or peaceful means for resolving differences? Our use of coercion, threats of violence and military force are fundamentally no different from the methods used by those we are fighting. We detain people who have no access to legal representation; we have engaged in the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, and have used unrestrained violence against noncombatants. Often times we cannot ourselves even distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.

I am so sorry that our arrogance, our unwillingness to admit our mistakes, and our self-righteousness blind us to the obvious: we really have no clue as to what we are doing in Iraq. We like to think of ourselves as good guys and those we kill as bad guys. But are we deluding ourselves? The world will never be safe if we continue in this way.

I long for an America that is united with the rest of the world in peace.

David Trowbridge
Greenbank, WA
October 29, 2006


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