The U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed the shape of warfare in the 21st century and sparked new forms of peace building. After the first war in Iraq, AFSC staff responded to the ongoing economic sanctions by organizing opposition to this brutal policy and sending water purification equipment in defiance of it.

After September 11, we embraced online organizing, enabling us to amass antiwar petitions signed by tens of thousands and participate in global protests attended by millions. In 2002, we helped found United for Peace and Justice, a national network formed to resist the second war in Iraq.

Then, as “shock and awe” gave way to prolonged conflict, we brought Iraqi voices directly to American audiences and worked against the demonization of Muslims and Arabs. We helped Americans see both the human and financial cost of the wars. Online and in person, we drew attention to the massive number of U.S., Iraqi, and Afghan casualties and the billions spent on weapons rather than for human needs at home and abroad.

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  • Children sitting at desks in a classroom wearing headscarves.
    After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, AFSC built 10 schools for girls in rural areas of the country. Our staff engaged with local communities on issues from education to landmine awareness.
  • Five women working with microscopes and vials.
    At Jaghori Girls' School, a makeshift chemistry lab engrossed Afghan students in 2003.
  • Man and woman stand next to each other outside.
    Rick McDowell and Mary Trotochaud, AFSC’s in-country Iraq representatives, lived in Baghdad following the U.S.-led invasion. For over a year, they sent stories from the streets of Bagdad at a time when most journalists were secluded in the “Green Zone.”
  • Girls sit together, holding bags of sneakers.
    AFSC’s partnership with an Iraqi NGO brought new sneakers to children who had lost nearly everything, including many members of their families.
  • Man stands, with the aid of crutches, in a room with many prosthetic.
    Salam Talib, an Iraqi polio survivor, had a passion for computers. With support from AFSC in 2004, he began teaching computer classes, while writing software for Baghdad's Center for Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy.
  • Screenshot of an old Wage Peace Campaign website.
    Both the Afghan and Iraq wars took place during the Internet age. AFSC used the web and email to distribute information and tools for waging peace.
  • Group of people stand in protest in a street covered in snow, one person holding a sign that reads "power to the peaceful."
    In February 2003, AFSC staff and volunteers joined 14 million people worldwide protesting the planned invasion of Iraq. Internet organizing made it possible to generate the largest mass mobilization in history.
  • Man speaks into a microphone at a table while another man looks on next to him.
    Raed Jarrar (left), an Iraqi peace activist, spoke at an AFSC conference on the post-invasion refugee crisis with Noah Baker Merrill, an AFSC staffer. Jarrar contradicted the Bush administration’s contention that Iraqi civil war was inevitable due to sectarian divisions.
  • Pairs of boots lined up in rows and columns fill a huge section of sidewalk.
    AFSC’s traveling exhibit, Eyes Wide Open, captured the human cost of the Iraq War to both Americans and Iraqis.
  • Group of people march together in front of the White House, one person holding a sign referencing the cost of the Iraq War.
    While the Iraq War dragged on at a price of $720 million per day, AFSC’s Cost of War campaign calculated what those dollars could have meant to U.S. healthcare, education, and the environment.
  • Audience seated in chairs in a room full of large pieces of art look towards the front of the room.
    In May 2010, AFSC launched “Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan,” a traveling exhibit of artwork to remind the U.S. public about the impact of ongoing violence.
  • Drawing showing a person in the foreground, and a plane dropping something on a building in the background.
    Students at a school in Kabul contributed drawings of their war experience for “Windows and Mirrors,” revealing that our high-tech, “perfect” targeting often went astray.