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A Bull in a China Shop

A Call for an Immediate Withdrawal from Iraq

March 3rd, 2007 · Written by · No Comments

Last November, many Americans were celebrating the new Democratic majority in the House and Senate. Outrage and concern over the Iraq War had forced Democratic and Republican candidates to address not only the government’s decision to go to war, but also the handling of the war since 2003. More often than not, candidates who advocated a change in course were elected. These results clearly challenged the Bush administration policy of “staying the course.”

Bull
But rather than heeding the voice of the people, on Jan. 11 President Bush dismissed overwhelming disapproval of the war, ignored military advisors’ skepticism over a “surge” in forces, and announced an increase of 21,500 troops in Iraq.

Demonstrations against the announced surge immediately sprung up throughout the nation. With only one day’s notice, 70 protesters marched through downtown Traverse City. Two weeks later, hundreds of Traverse area residents gathered – in solidarity with protesters around the country – to call for an end to the war and to demand Congress move toward cutting off funding. Over 500,000 marched in Washington DC. A protest in San Francisco turned out 5,000 demonstrators. In Los Angeles, thousands took to the streets. In Seattle, more than one thousand people turned out to protest – including First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to face prosecution for refusing to serve in Iraq.

Frustration and anger among anti-war activists continues to mount on both the national and local level. Watered-down nonbinding resolutions aside, what is missing from the dialogue in Washington is a demand for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Immediate withdrawal must become the subject of debate everywhere, for the sooner it occurs the better for all sides of the conflict. Although possible, it is highly unlikely that America’s situation in Iraq is going to improve. It surely cannot get much worse for the Iraqis.

wars are rarely won by an occupying force once faced with an armed, dedicated, and organized indigenous resistance

According to a Pentagon report, the number of weekly attacks has nearly doubled in two years time, averaging 792 per week in late summer. As of this writing, 3,133 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and 23,500 have been wounded. And although most of the media is focused on sectarian strife and the resulting civilian death, last August a Defense Intelligence Agency report found that 70 percent of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) targeted U.S. forces, 20 percent targeted Iraqi security forces, and only 10 percent targeted civilians. Further, a poll conducted by the British Ministry of Defense found that between 45 and 65 percent of Iraqis support armed attacks against the occupying forces. In a recent three week period, five U.S. military helicopters were shot down by the Iraqi resistance.

These numbers – and the fact that wars are rarely won by an occupying force once faced with an armed, dedicated, and organized indigenous resistance – indicate that there’s a high likelihood the U.S. will be forced out of Iraq in defeat.

So, if we can not “win” this war, how much longer will we throw our citizenry into an unending meat grinder? How much more money will we spend on military adventures while our healthcare system remains nonexistent and our schools under-funded? How much longer will Iraqis have to live under occupation and how many more must die? If the U.S. will ultimately withdraw, why not do it now?

The most common criticism to immediate and absolute withdrawal of American troops is that it will bring chaos to Iraq. Of course, this ignores that the current dysfunction in Iraq has much to do with fifteen years of devastating sanctions spearheaded by the U.S., the aftermath of depleted uranium and remnants of unexploded munitions used by the U.S. in 1991’s Gulf War, and the saturation bombing conducted by British and U.S. forces in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion.

The current situation remains grim.

The current situation remains grim. Lancet research suggests as many as 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion. Unemployment is estimated at 60 percent while Kellogg, Brown & Root hire thousands of foreign workers for Iraqi jobs. Employed Iraqis earn $150 per month on average. The cost of fuel and electricity – when they are available – has gone up 270 percent in one year. Parents keep children home from school. One million Iraqis are refugees in Jordan and Syria.

Indeed, there is chaos, and there will be chaos with or without a U.S. presence. However, it is the U.S. who has taken the lead in destroying Iraq’s infrastructure from 1991 through 2003 and then subsequently mismanaged its affairs since the 2003 invasion. It’s also the U.S. who fueled sectarian divisions in the draft Iraqi constitution, invited the fringe fundamentalist Shia and Iran-backed parties into the political discourse, and first armed, trained, and funded the militias for counter-insurgency operations. The U.S., it seems, is much like a bull in a china shop – the only solution is to kick it out and send it the bill.

The call for withdrawal is gaining support. On Feb. 14, the Boston City Council voted 8-3 in support of a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and the reallocation of funds from the Pentagon back to communities where they can be used for AIDS, jobs, housing, healthcare, and education. Similar resolutions are pending in other cities. PollingReport.com found that 63 percent favor a withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2008. Meanwhile, 40 percent say the efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going very badly, 46 percent say the situation in Iraq is going to get worse, and 47 percent think the U.S. is unlikely to succeed in Iraq. A vast majority believe the U.S. military cannot do much about fighting between Iraqi factions.

With these very realistic projections there is no justifiable reason to delay the inevitable. Withdrawal is the honest answer to a dishonest war that should not have been waged and an occupation that is making things worse by the day.

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