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More statesmanship, less salesmanship, please...


By Rep Lynn Woolsey
Knight Ridder

WASHINGTON: The war in Iraq, now entering its 30th month, seemingly brings a new atrocity or source of shame every day. The American death toll is approaching 2,000, with August on track to be one of the war's deadliest months.

And let's not forget the wounded, the victims of post-traumatic stress syndrome and the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians senselessly killed so that their nation could be 'liberated'.

Throughout this year, I have been calling for the president to bring our troops home to their families as soon as realistically possible. I have repeatedly requested hearings on Iraq troop withdrawal.

But having received no satisfactory answer, I decided to take matters into my own hands. On September 15, I am convening a hearing (modelled on the one organised by Rep John Conyers about the Downing Street Memos), where we'll hear from academics, military personnel and other experts about strategies to achieve military disengagement while still playing a constructive role in the rebuilding of Iraqi society.

The insurgents show no sign of relenting; after all, it is the US-led occupation itself that is fuelling their violent fervour. They are using more powerful weapons, and many of them have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces.

Directly contradicting Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently insisted that the insurgency was in its "last throes," an anonymous military official told the Washington Post last week that the insurgents "certainly are not going to pack up and go away, there's no doubt about it."

The Iraqi constitution is shaping up to be weaker on women's rights than even the regime of that famous egalitarian, Saddam Hussain. As the editors of The New Republic put it: "The idea that 1,800 American troops died so Iraqi women could enjoy the full blessings of religious medievalism ought to disturb the Bush administration and the American people."

Earlier this month, we learned of a November 2003 incident in which soldiers stuffed an Iraqi general in a sleeping bag, tied him up with a cord, and beat him to death. Cause of death, as announced by the military: natural causes. We've discovered over the last year that Abu Ghraib was just the tip of the torture iceberg. But not a single military higher-up has been held accountable.

This past week, however, someone was disciplined. Four-Star Gen Kevin Byrnes was relieved of his command ... for having a consensual adulterous relationship with a civilian woman, eventhough he was separated from his wife at the time. The message is clear: Sadistic interrogation techniques? Good work. Extramarital romance? Clean out your desk.

Meanwhile, President Bush breezily enjoys his vacation, largely oblivious to the fact that roughly two-thirds of the American people disapprove of his Iraq policy. And obviously ignoring the fact that a woman named Cindy Sheehan - a friend of mine from Vacaville, California - stands outside his ranch waiting to get some answers about the war that killed her 24-year-old son. The president still refuses to meet with her.

Our famously steadfast president is suddenly vacillating quite regularly. The last few weeks has seen the White House flip and then flop about whether the United States will be increasing its military commitment in Iraq or drawing down some time next year (in time, conveniently, for the 2006 midterm elections).

And there's still convincing evidence that we're preparing to have permanent military bases in Iraq. All this from the same president who built a case for re-election on the fact that John Kerry was sending 'mixed messages' on Iraq.

The White House cannot even make up its mind about what to call this war. The tried-and-true 'Global War on Terrorism' appeared to give way to 'Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism', before the president distanced himself from that phrase a week later.

How distressing that energy is being wasted on slogans and catchphrases, as if this were a marketing campaign for a new line of detergent. More statesmanship, less salesmanship, please. Everything about this war has been a ruinous debacle: the way we got into it, the way we've conducted it, the refusal of a plan for disengagement, the high price - in dollars and lives - we've paid for it. It must end as soon as possible. There is only one solution: bring the troops home.

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US Representative Lynn Woolsey is a Democrat from California. Readers may write to her at: 2263 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.

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"...And let's not forget the wounded, the victims of post-traumatic stress syndrome and the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians senselessly killed so that their nation could be 'liberated'..."

I am appalled and outraged that there are Iraqui children 12 years old and under that have been murdered by this brutal Bushco thuggery. My eyes well up with tears when I think about it , and it is hard to put those images of permanently maimed children out of my mind. I do not understand why the so-called "Committee for the Liberation of Iraq" calls itself that>>> there is not an Iraqui member in the whole group. Whatever this organization's agenda is , it is NOT 'liberation'.
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What if we had a war and nobody came. The point is they can not continue this atrocity of war without our cooperation, so lets stop cooperating and join the resistance.

You want an exit strategy, how is this for an exit strategy; all American troops out of Iraq within the next 90 days, there's your exit strategy, just do it.

I am sick and tired of this gutless congress wringing it's hands over an exit strategy; news flash, congress controls the money, little George can not make war without money, ergo cut the funding for this war now, you do not need little George's permission or cooperation to end this insanely stupid war, cut the funding!

I agree 100%. This is truly a factual way to make things right in America. Its a good start. Maybe then we could take care of things on the home front and our citizens needs.

My God, you so-called reporters and commentators are slow to catch on. Wake up and get with the reality. Read some old news. A marketing campaign is exactly what it is and has been from the outset.

ANOTHER JOB LEFT UNDONE!

Today we may be greeted with news of another benchmark of progress. The U.S. has been meeting everyday banging on Iraqis heads to provide the Bush propagandists with good news, but also sacrificing the Iraqi Constitution to a watered down version so the U.S. can point to progress in Bush’s Failing war. The Sunnis will vote “no

Dear Ms. Carr,

You have stated the case for the failures of Bush & Co. extremely well.

People of good will can only continue to speak and write as you have in your post to drum home the message that our country is at war as a result of the lies and deceit of the Bush administration.

Power to the people!

Impeach Bush and Cheney. Impeach Bush and Cheney! Impeach Bush and Cheney!And don't forget Karl Rove.

Why have a rally on 9/15 when there will be a HUGE rally on 9/24 of a variety of groups who want the U.S. out of Iraq and want all the same things that all progressives want, including fair and honest elections. To dilute the 9/24 rally with one on 9/15 seems typical of non-thinking Democrats. Join up with the 9/24 rally please -- for the biggest rally ever held in the USA!

I agree! We should all band together for the Sept.24th Anti-War, Impeach Bush rally. I am coming from the SF Bay Area with my 70 year old mother and 19 year old daughter. Many more people from our local group in the are going as well. Be There! Let's do this right!!

I concur completely. We must not duplicate our actions.

I don't really know if it is television, toxic food, bad air, the pablum that passes for "news", a false sense of security, or probably a combination of all of the above, but this belated recognition is not going to accomplish the drastic measures "we the people" must take to regain control of our country and acknowledge our responsibility towards our world neighbors. OTOH, perhaps the primary "cosmic" purpose of this "war on everything" is to rapidly bring balance (through wholesale death and destruction) back to our "pale blue dot". If so, Dubya is the perfect choice, for his defective brain knows no sane bounds, has no conscience, and his head is just fat enough to hide his neo-CON handlers from open view while they go about the apparently necessary task of divesting the planet of its surplus population of human beings.

Kristofer Dale,
ragged individualist,
statistaic at large...

I agree with your comments Representative Woolsey. Bush has run this war from day 1 to line the pockets of his campaign contributors (Big Oil companies, Halliburton, etc.). I also think the posted comment about stopping this war by having Congress cut off funding is also right on the mark - the only problem is Democrats are a minority party right now, and most moderate Republicans are afraid of neo-con vengeance if they don't go along with everything Bush wants. Sooo, the way to stop the war is to elect more Democrats to the House and Senate in the 2006 mid-term elections, so that a (sane) Democrat Congress can then vote to cut off the funding for this ridiculous war.

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