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On the Fifth Anniversary of the Iraq War

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As we contemplate the fifth anniversary of the unleashing of this horror which has cost so many their lives, let us also remember the considerable psychic toll of this act of aggression and destruction. Millions of Iraqis suffer the agonies of loss of loved ones. Uncounted numbers suffer the loss of their homes and communities which, more even than lodging, provide anchors of stability in life. And virtually all Iraqis have lost that sense of progress and hope that makes life’s pains and agonies bearable. Long after the brutal contests for power between rival factions have been resolved through dialog or wound down through exhaustion, Iraqis will be struggling to put together their lives, to create a world in which daily life is not unimaginable, and in which hope for the future exists.

We must also remember the psychic toll on Americans exacted by this war and its attendant destruction. There are, of course, the thousands and thousands of troops suffering from post traumatic stress, from traumatic brain injuries, and from the myriad other diagnoses attributable to this war. But there is also the despair that untold others will experience as they return and realize that their experiences of fear, chaos and destruction alienate them from their neighbors who live in a safe world of shopping malls and American Idol.

And there is the effect upon all of us, citizens of the United States and of many other countries, knowing that the post-Cold War opportunity to create a new, more peaceful world order of international cooperation has been ruthlessly abandoned in pursuit of this mad dream of world dominance.

Each of us has within the potential to create and to destroy. For five long years we have seen what the potential to dominate and destroy has wrought. We must each reach within to tap the potential to create, to unite, and to love, as we struggle to create a more just and peaceful world.

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Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and is President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He was a psychological consultant on two of (more...)
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