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The Only Option Left in Iraq

Blumenauer Calls for Withdrawal from Iraq
Three years ago, I argued against the Bush Administration's proposal to attack Iraq for the very reasons we have seen emerge from this troubled region. We were prepared to defeat Saddam Hussein's military but the administration and congressional leaders were never prepared to win the peace.

Not only was the premise for the war flawed, but the administration has made the wrong military, political, and diplomatic choices at every turn. The members of our armed services make up the finest fighting force in the world and they have done their duty with great distinction and honor, yet the administration has failed them as well.

I take no satisfaction in my worst fears having been proven correct. The administration's spectacular failures in executing this war have set back our efforts against terrorism and left America with no good options in Iraq. But, as our military is being not just frayed but damaged and Iraq faces increasingly difficult prospects for democracy and stability, staying the course is simply not an option.

Until now, I have resisted advocating for an accelerated pullout because of my fear of the downward spiral that could occur in the aftermath. Yet this is a question that must be faced sooner rather than later, and it's hard to imagine a policy that would be more destabilizing than the administration's current mismanagement of the war effort and continued estrangement from reality.

There is no longer any basis for the hope that a sustained American military occupation will stabilize Iraq. Instead, we continue to lose credibility and influence in the region and with our allies, as well as strengthen the hands of those extremists who wish to do us harm. Even many of those who initially supported military action have come to admit that the administration's strategy has failed and that a large United States military presence inhibits the development of a stable and democratic Iraq. Iraqis in key positions are arguing for at least some withdrawal of U.S. forces. Most telling is a recent poll of Iraqis themselves, commissioned by the British Ministry of Defense, which showed that 82% of Iraqis were "strongly opposed" to the presence of foreign troops and less than 1% believe the their presence is helping to improve security.

Iraq's future depends on creating a secure space for politics and the rule of law to replace violence. This is a process at which only Iraqis themselves can succeed, with America and the international community playing a supporting role. Elections scheduled for December provide the perfect opportunity to begin the withdrawal of American troops, a refocused U.S. effort, and transfer of responsibility to Iraqis.

American forces should be redeployed out of Iraq in two phases. First, let's bring the 46,000 National Guard and Reserve forces home immediately. These elements in our total force have been most overburdened by ever-increasing deployments and are most needed here in the United States.

Continued U. S. aid and military support must be tied to performance objectives for the Iraqi government and military. On that basis, the rest of the American forces should be withdrawn over the next one to two years, based on a detailed plan for the sector by sector transfer of security responsibility. The majority of these troops should be brought home. Others should be redeployed to Afghanistan to create a larger security footprint and help prevent the reemergence of the Taliban. A small rapid-reaction force should be left in Kuwait that can protect against any destabilizing coups.

The administration must reengage diplomatically by seeking a new United Nations resolution that supports international efforts to stabilize Iraq and by beginning a regional security dialogue with Iraq's neighbors. We should also work with the Arab League to facilitate a renewed effort towards a political solution within Iraq by engaging with nationalist faction leaders who might be a force for stability in that country if U.S. troops were withdrawn.

We must also change the nature of our economic assistance. By shifting reconstruction aid to Iraq away from large projects undertaken by foreign contactors towards small, locally oriented projects run by Iraqis, we create jobs, give Iraqis a greater investment in their success, and minimize corruption and price-gouging.

President Bush's model of "go it alone, do it cheap, and put it on a credit card" has not only led to grave instability in Iraq, it is crippling our ability to deal with the more serious strategic threats, from Iran and North Korea to a terrorist movement that we have inadvertently strengthened. We must now do our best to salvage what we still can of American credibility, military readiness, democratic ideals, and Iraqi stability through a change in strategy and the beginning of a responsible phase-down of American troops and the orderly transfer of authority to Iraqis.

homepage: homepage: http://blumenauer.house.gov

Out NOW! 21.Nov.2005 19:44

Kando Sudoku

Or we could bring all the troops home next week. Start loading the planes with equipment NOW, instead of more body bags.
Oh, and you should leave a lot of money for all the damage the US has done over the past 14 years.

another idea 22.Nov.2005 10:41

thinker

or the troops can turn their guns on their officers. theres option #3

Not In One Year Or Two, Let's Get Out Now! 22.Nov.2005 11:55

Roland

While Blumenauer's call to leave Iraq is another much needed voice in the congress, his comment that US forces should be redeployed to Afghanistan to "help prevent the reemergence of the Taliban" seems out of touch with the reality on the ground in Afghanistan. Apparently, according to numerous reports, the Taliban has already "reemerged" and was never actually defeated in the first place. All of its top leaders are still at large and receiving funding from an array of donors including Afghan warlords, Russia, Iran and Pakistan Islamic fundamentalist organizations.

Blumenauer is also talking about a 1-2 year timetable for withdrawal, based on the Iraqis' ability to go it alone without US military help. And, if Iraqi security forces do not measure up to the task, what then? Another revised timetable for withdrawal? Further, is Blumenauer talking about a COMPLETE withdrawal of ALL US forces? What about all of those permanent bases scattered around the country? Isn't there a plan that requires a permanent residual force in Iraq in order to protect those US business interests that are now dominating the Iraqi economy? No one, including Blumenauer talks about that issue.

Although some Democrats are beginning to talk the talk, as it were, none of them are hitting the mark as far as the progressive wing of the anti-war movement is concerned. We want the US out of Iraq now!

And, for those who say an immediate pullout would be a disaster and lead to violence and chaos, I ask you, can it get any worse in Iraq than the nightmare that is already occurring there every day?

The Blumenauer Plan for Iraq 22.Nov.2005 12:42

anon

Blumenauer does talk about permanent bases. This is an email from his office:

The Blumenauer Plan for Iraq

Immediately clarify, forcefully and plainly, our long-term intentions and intermediate objectives in Iraq so that a withdrawal would not be viewed as a retreat or lack of will and vision. Renounce any permanent designs on Iraq's territory or resources, and plans for permanent bases there.

Return to the United States the approximately 46,000 Guard and Reserve forces in Iraq immediately following the December elections.

Draw-down the rest of the U.S. forces over the next one to two years, based on a detailed plan for the transfer of security responsibility on a sector by sector basis. The vast majority of these troops should be brought home. Others should be redeployed to Afghanistan to create a larger security footprint and help prevent the reemergence of the Taliban. A small rapid-reaction force should be left in Kuwait that can protect against any destabilizing coups. Until the withdrawal is complete, the troops remaining in Iraq should focus on holding and stabilizing population centers, rather than hunting down and killing insurgents.

Shift reconstruction aid to Iraq away from large projects undertaken by foreign contactors towards small, locally oriented projects run by Iraqis, we can help creating jobs, give Iraqis a greater investment in their success, and avoid corruption and price-gouging. Continued funding must be based on results.

Increase support for the non-governmental organizations that provide much-needed training and assistance to Iraqi political leaders and the labor unions and civil society organizations which provide the backbone of any democracy.

Seek a new U.N. resolution in favor of international efforts to support Iraq, including UN supervision of political and democratic development and training of civilian government capacity, a program to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate militias, and responsibility for securing munitions and weapons.

Work to bring other countries in to the training and stability force, under NATO control, if possible, and accept offers from Egypt, Jordan, France, and Germany to train Iraqi troops out of country.

Diplomatically engage all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria, to begin a regional security dialogue with an aim towards restricting their destabilizing interference in Iraqi affairs. .

While we should not negotiate with terrorists, the US needs to make a renewed effort toward a political solution by diplomatically engaging nationalist, not radical Islamic, faction leaders who might be willing to support a stable Iraq without a U.S. presence, in an attempt to drive a wedge through the insurgency. This can be based on similar efforts to engage the IRA in Northern Ireland.

Allow the Iraqi government to set its own economic course, rather than insisting on the quick privatization of government services, the reduction of government revenues, and the elimination of a social safety net which will lead to increased social disruption and instability.

Refocus on the real war on terror and other national security threat, including preventing the reemergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, disrupting terror networks across the world, eliminating the social and political conditions that provide support to violent extremists, and developing real strategies to deal with nuclear proliferation in North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran.

Push 22.Nov.2005 15:54

George Bender

Blumenaur is using a lot of words to cover up retreat, make it sound like something else. But I guess that's okay if it starts our withdrawal from Iraq. I've read that it's physically possible to get all our troops out in 6 months. That's what Ralph Nader advocated in the last presidential campaign, for the few who were willing to listen. Boy do Americans hate to listen! If they did it might punch a hole in their strenuous avoidance of reality.

Still, the ice is starting to crack. Now we need to push harder.


BTW 22.Nov.2005 17:24

Sheepdog

Don't EVEN mention the UN to the common Iraqi.
Unlike Americans, they remember the grinding, killing sanctions that were imposed after we shattered that nation.
Give them food medicine machinery and everything else we wasted due to our criminal leader's rape of the nation and people. If there is a nation left to survive in a radioactive hell.

What about the attack on workers rights under the war of terror? 22.Nov.2005 23:02

Marik marik@aracnet.com

Earl can sugar-coat the latest attmept by the democratc party to liquidate the anti-war movement. However, I feel that a few things stand out from his speech.

Obviously, he is not supporting an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He is sponsoring a speculative removal of troops, one at the behest of U.S. leadership. Furthermore, it took him quite a while to come over to this position. He does not call the war by what it is; the invasion of a sovereign nation. By refusing to admit to this definition, he refuses to allow the right of Iraqi's to self determination. The 'insurgency' you'll remember, didn't occur until we started blowing the shit out their country. His stance on future U.S. military presence (post Iraq 'independancy') is vague.

He also readily supports this fabricated 'war on terror' which the governing elite use to pursue their military agenda in the middle east and elsewhere. The Iraq scenario is likely to repeat itself under this guise in different countries. On the whims of the elite, their business 'interests' and the resistance from the anti-war movement.

Missing is his stance on how the U.S. government has curbed civil rights in the country in the name of security and is in line to adopt this curbing of civil rights on a permanent basis.

I think these are very real problems for the anti-war movement. It is currently very short-sighted. The threat of invasion in Syria or Iran is a very real possibility. Allowing U.S. sponsored terrorism (the preemptive strategy, if you will) to continue under the phony guise of the 'war on terror' should be something the anti-war movement is concerned with. The growing measures to police the american public are going to cripple our ability to fight back. After all, we are trying to _end_ war here, are we not? We must think about the future!

But what does it mean to be 'anti-war'? I define myself as 'anti-war'. That mean's I am against the very IDEA of war. It means you oppose war, based not on the random statistics and peculiarities of any given war (for example, citing you break with the war beacuse of misleadership) but on the very basis of what war is!

That is not to say we should be unconcerened with Iraq, of course. Or Afghanistan. Or the phillipines, or anywhere else in the world the U.S. may or may not have it's military presently deployed. We must work on the short term goals (such as bringing an immediate halt and withdrawal of operations in U.S. controlled regions) with our long term goal (of ending war) firmly in mind.

Unfortunately, few, if any, of 'our' elected officials have said anything about the audacity of the 'war on terror' or the destruction of civil/workers rights. No,'anti-war' politicians sound like Earl above, but now we can see how his stance is not supportive of the anti-war movements long term goal.

Some may argue that the anti-war movement shouldn't have these future goals. That the anti-war movement needn't be concerned with the possibility of future aggression by the U.S. elite. Or with dispelling the illusion covering up the war on terror. Or fighting the steady attack on fundamental rights. We should only be concerned with Iraq, and we should express our outrage through the only realistic approach - Senators like Blumenauer. But it seems to me the fundamental goal of the anti-war movement is to destroy the idea of war. With this fundamental goal firmly in mind (unless of course you think war is okay under the right conditions), it makes it easier to clearly see the principles that the anti-war movement should operate and orientate itself under. This means working to destroy the current war, and working to dam the tide resulting from the 'war on terror'. It means understanding the root cause of this war and others; in short, U.S. Imperialism.

This, I feel, means the antiwar movement must adopt an anti-imperialist stance, if it is to be successful in pushing war from human history.


The next killer president? 23.Nov.2005 20:58

Kando Sudoku

Don't expect ANYTHING from the democrats (except more war& occupation)
I see Hilary Clinton is coming to Portland on December 16 to fund raise (for her electtion bid)?
How about this chant.
"Hey Hilary we know you,
Your hubby was a killer too!"

And a mass one at that!