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Petition Launched in Support of Exit Strategy for Iraq


Petition Launched in Support of Exit Strategy for Iraq
-- Congressional Hearings Scheduled for Next Month

Last week, two organizations seeking an end to the Iraq War, began collecting signatures on a petition to Congress calling for an exit strategy. Thus far over 13,000 signatures have been collected on the websites of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and Peace Action.

The petition, whose chief author is PDA Cofounder Tom Hayden, can be read at http://www.pdamerica.org or http://www.peace-action.org It will be delivered to members of Congress on September 15.

A growing number of organizations are promoting the petition, including: After Downing Street, National Organization for Women (NOW), Democrats.com, Women's Action for New Directions, Peace Majority, and others.

On May 25, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey introduced on the floor of the House an amendment that would have called on President Bush to develop a plan for the withdrawal of U.S. forces and a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. 123 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted in favor of the amendment.

Today Rep. Woolsey said: "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."

Woolsey has for months requested official bipartisan hearings on an exit strategy, but been blocked by Republican committee chairs. This week she announced unofficial hearings to be held on Capitol Hill on September 15.

The second week of September will witness two opposing events in Washington, D.C., a pro-war march and concert sponsored by the Pentagon on September 11, and the first serious discussion of an exit strategy in Congress four days later.

An op-ed on this issue by Congresswoman Woolsey is posted at
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/2008

Rally Planned Outside White House Following Hearings

PDA, the After Downing Street Coalition, and Code Pink will sponsor a rally in Lafayette Square Park, across from the White House, at 5 p.m. ET on September 15. Members of Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War have been invited to speak.

State Democratic Parties Support Withdrawal

This past weekend, the Arizona Democratic Party became the seventh state Democratic party to pass a resolution in favor of bringing all troops home from Iraq.
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/2016

Statements

"The petition was developed as part of PDA's ongoing effort to build an authentic anti-war voice inside the Democratic Party. Since its founding at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004, PDA has successfully led efforts to pass resolutions opposing the U.S. war in Iraq at state Democratic Party meetings in California, New Mexico, and Massachusetts and most recently at the annual convention of Young Democrats of America."
PDA director Tim Carpenter

"The majority of Americans are anti-war and over 13,000 thousand have signed a petition to Congress with a statement of principles on how to get out of Iraq. The hearing on an exit strategy being held by Representative Woolsey is an example of Congress doing what it was supposed to do—represent the will of the people of America. After the hearings, the voice of the anti-war majority will rally at the White House and make the President think he's back in Crawford."
Kevin M. Martin, executive director of the Peace Action Education Fund

"The American people want an exit strategy for George Bush's disastrous war in Iraq. Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Progressive Democrats of America are stepping up and providing the leadership the American people want. It's high time George Bush started listening to the champions of peace, rather than the champions of never-ending war."
Bob Fertik, President of Democrats.com

"If we continue to build this movement in the coming weeks, it will become harder for members of Congress in either party to have a reelection strategy without having an exit strategy for Iraq. I won't be surprised if some Republicans participate on the 15th. Whether they do or not, the Democratic Party will have moved a large step closer to having an identity for which people can vote next year. Citizens who want an exit strategy should call their Congress Members and Senators and ask them to take part in this event."
David Swanson, Co-Founder After Downing Street Coalition
____________________

STATEMENT FROM REP. LYNN WOOLSEY ON HEARING

How To Bring Our Troops Home and Achieve Military Disengagement from Iraq
Statement of Purpose for U.S. Congresswoman. Lynn Woolsey’s September 15, 2005 ad-hoc hearing on Capitol Hill

The purpose of this ad-hoc hearing, which will take place in the U.S. Capitol on September 15th, is to hear from a diverse panel of experts and open up debate inside and outside of Congress on possible strategies for U.S. military disengagement from Iraq.

Because the Bush Administration has failed to plan for an end to the war in Iraq, and because the leadership in Congress has failed to hold hearings that focus on ending the war, a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress has decided to hold an ad-hoc hearing to address this matter. Thus far, more than 25 other Members of Congress have agreed to participate in the hearing.

More than 100 members of the Iraqi Parliament have recently urged the U.S. to fully withdraw its military forces from Iraq. Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’afari has stated that the U.S. must establish and implement a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout Iraq. Even some U.S. military commanders have projected that substantial numbers of U.S. troops could be brought home early next year, contingent upon improvement of Iraq’s political and security situation. Nevertheless, President Bush consistently maintains that the United States military will leave Iraq only after defeating the insurgents.

This all-or-nothing posture from the Bush Administration is both unrealistic and dangerous to the American people. Iraq’s insurgents cannot be truly defeated, since it is America’s very presence in Iraq that fuels the insurgency; accordingly, the conflict in Iraq will continue as long as the U.S. military remains in Iraq. A growing majority of Americans are starting to understand this fact, and a majority of Americans want Congress to take the lead in exploring ways to bring our troops home. Yet, neither the House Armed Services Committee nor any other pertinent congressional oversight committee has scheduled hearings on ways to achieve U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

This ad hoc hearing on September 15th is meant to break the silence on Capitol Hill, help fill the policy vacuum, and facilitate a broader, ongoing public discussion about U.S. military disengagement from Iraq and real progress on Iraqi reconstruction and reconciliation. It is intended to begin the process of creating a roadmap to peace in Iraq – not to endorse any one specific exit strategy. Hopefully, this ad-hoc hearing will spark further hearings and public dialogue in Washington, D.C., around the country, and around the world to help end the chaos, bloodshed, and suffering in Iraq.
There is no imperative to equate possible exit strategies with defeat. The U.S. can still be a part of the solution to the war in Iraq. To do so, we must begin pivoting from a military solution to finding political, economic, and diplomatic strategies that will lead to real progress in empowering the Iraqi people to begin the long recovery and rebuilding of their war-torn country.

In conjunction with this ad hoc hearing, articles and white papers are also being commissioned from a wider cross-section of experts for publication of a book to stimulate additional debate.

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