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Time To Bring Our Troops Home


Published on Sunday, September 25, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
By Todd Huffman

When my daughter asked why our daily newspaper only updates the number of Americans killed in Iraq, at first I fumbled for an answer. Somehow managing an air of assuredness, I told her that no one really knows how many Iraqis have died, which, I suppose, is a half-truth. I could not admit the whole truth, that the countless Iraqi dead are only countless because America does not bother to count them.

Over the past two and a half years, how many Americans have given thought, like my daughter, to how many Iraqis have been killed as a result of this profoundly misbegotten war? Truth is thousands upon tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died in the rubble of our misdeeds, along with nearly two-thousand Americans. That most Americans seem unaware or simply unbothered, blithely evoking the memory of our own catastrophic loss four years ago as justification, has led the global community to conclude that to Americans, non-American life must be cheap.

Such a conclusion is understandable. Killing others for the sake of one’s own security does assume their lives have lesser value. As much as Americans might recoil at this suggestion, our collective oblivion to the toll this war has taken on everyday Iraqis only confirms its veracity.

No matter our intentions, when we kill the innocent, we become the enemy, and the ranks of those who wish to do us harm swell in turn. And with each civilian humiliated or killed, the intensity of their hatred and fervor grows. With every passing week the war in Iraq allows an elusive and inexhaustible counterinsurgency to claim further justification for its own inexcusable violence and crimes.

Throughout the Islamic and even the Western world, well-educated and thoughtful young Muslims now liken America to Nazi Germany. To many Muslims young and old, democracy and liberty have become synonymous with military occupation, the physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, and the death of civilians. Since our invasion, extensive and repeated international polling in Muslim countries reveals that there has been a drastic increase in the number of people across the world convinced America is their enemy. How does this make us more secure?

In military terms, this war has been a recruiting sergeant for the very forces of terror our leaders sought to destroy. Rather than controlling terrorism, this war has licensed it, and has endangered rather than enhanced our national security. Iraq itself has become the new Afghanistan, even as we have failed to completely secure the old Afghanistan.

The unprovoked and unwarranted invasion and conquest of Iraq diverted our attention and resources from our proper course: clearing out every terrorist haven – which Iraq was not – and capturing and bringing to justice every terrorist responsible for September 11. Common sense, that one should not start new wars when others are unfinished, was ignored. Rather than chase bin Laden and al-Qaeda to the ends of the earth, we have instead chased our nation’s fortune into the mouth of an omnivorous and never-ending war.

Nothing of vital interest to the United States necessitated this misadventure. All justifications for going to war in Iraq save that Saddam was a brutal tyrant have proven vacuous. This war was not thrust upon us; we chose it.

Our continuing presence in Iraq is each day not only generating more terrorists, but also diverting resources from more urgent needs at home and elsewhere abroad. America is draining its Treasury of a billion dollars a week fighting every prospective terrorist to death in Iraq – a prescription for endless war – that might otherwise be spent here at home improving our national security by fortifying our cities and our ports, and protecting our people against poverty, ill-health, ill-education, and the threats of disaster natural and manmade.

It is time for this gigantic distortion in our national priorities to be called to an end. This war that our leaders have concocted has sapped our military strength, our credibility, our economy, our disaster preparedness, our morale, and our moral standing in the world. It has increased the threats America faces, and reduced the military, financial, and diplomatic tools with which we can respond. It is time to bring our troops home.

It’s getting too late to look ugly. Even our military leaders now admit that the insurgency cannot be defeated by force. Our military is strained to the breaking point, and is increasingly unable to meet its recruiting goals. It is time to bring our troops home.

Americans themselves have gone from thinking the war was not a mistake to thinking that it was. The most recent polls show a record 67 percent disapproving of the President’s handling of Iraq, while 63 percent said some or all U.S. troops should withdraw. And in June of this year one million Iraqis – mostly majority Shiites – signed a petition calling for an end to American occupation of Iraq. It is time to bring our troops home.

However, a massive American army occupying a nation half a world away cannot be withdrawn “immediately

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When the President repeats one of his favorite sayings, "It's better to fight the terrorists over there than here", he's referring to the assumed worthlessness of Iraqi civilian lives and property versus valuable American civilian lives and property. The fact that no one has pointed out this arrogance to him suggests this assumption is widespread in this country.

It's critical when responding to this assertion to note which party INITIATED the conflict.

It's a given that it is the imperialism emanating from Washington is the original cause of the conflict.
While a cessation of hostilities and a withdrawal of troops from Iraq would probably not bring the terrorist threat to an immediate halt, it would be the essential first step.

This is due to the intrinsic distinction of the positions in a conflict between the initiator and the responder.

In the case of an unjustified conflict, the onus is all the more clearly on the initiator to put a stop to the conflict.

The question I always pose when I'm confronted with that "better to fight them over there"nonsense is why fight them at all? If the response consists of siting 9/11 or any other terrorist act, one need only retrogress historically to a previous act of agression on Washington's part.As they are the initiators, and the terrorists are by definition, the responders, one needs only a reasonable understanding of history and the fundamental nature of the relationship to succeed in the argument.

---The Bikemessenger

"There is a rapidly emerging network of opposition to the Afghan/Iraqi wars which, contrary to the screeching war-lovers at Fox News, is not confined to “left-wing

Yes, thank you very much from one of the author, Butler Shaffer's fellow libertarians.

Here is the lewrockwell.com archive of Mr. Shaffer's writings, where you may find additional excellent articles by him agruing against the war:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/shaffer/shaffer-arch.html

You may also find of interest the following speech by Mr. Rockwell himself at an anti-war rally:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/speech-antiwar.html

---The Bikemessenger

This sticker is soooooo cooooolllll!!!!

Todd Huffman's article is a well written and thoughtful summary of the American experience over the last 5 years.

It should be required reading for all of the right wing annonymous posters that appear on this website asking for the "liberal plan".

I agree that American forces can not be completely removed with the immediacy most all of us would like. We all agree they should not have been sent their in the first place. They however, must be systematically withdrawn with the initial withdrawals commencing upon a truce of some sort with Iraqi tribal leaders who control the pockets of resisitence and insurgencies. As American forces are withdrawn, either UN or PanArab forces should come in to quell the tendency for civil war to erupt.

The American government should also extend economic assistance, without strings attached, so the Iraqis can rebuuild there own country as the sovereign nation Iraq should be. America needs to reacquire the good will and respect as well as trust from the rest of the world community. Only then will our country begin to erase the stains of this chapter in its history.

If this amounts to cutting and running in the eyes of the right, TO DAMNED BAD! You are the ones that got us into this mess and it will take reasonable, educated and caring people to resurrect us from that mess of the right's creation.

"Saddam was a brutal tyrant." Sure he was. But is the George W Bush regime any less tyrannical with its PATRIOT Act for America and its AIPAC-PNAC "full spectrum dominance" strategies for the entire world? Are the napalm and cluster bombs that incinerate civilians and blow the arms and legs off kids any less brutal than Saddam's weapons? As for torturing prisoners, ask the victims themselves whose methods they prefer.

And before some Democrat jumps in to grant absolution to all those who didn't support the Bush regime directly, think again. The democrat leadership has supported the "shock and awe" invasion and occupation from the outset and continues to do so. Furthermore, the number of Iraqis (especially children) who suffered and died under sanctions imposed by the previous Democratic president makes Bush look like a mere amateur at murdering babies.

I've been saying that only a second revolution can save the United States of America. But I seriously doubt that today's average American retains sufficient revolutionary spirit to implement that solution. So maybe there's an alternative. Some Vermonters seem to prefer secession from the American Empire instead:

In answer to a growing swell of interest in realistic responses to the excesses of the present American empire, The Middlebury Institute has been launched by a group of activists and professionals to promote the serious study of separatism, secession, self-determination and similar devolutionary trends and developments, on both national and international scales.

We believe that, of the options open to those who would dissent from the actions and institutions of a government grown too big and unwieldy and its handmaiden corporate sponsors grown too powerful and corrupt, the only comprehensive and practical one is some form of separatism. Exploring this option is not a step to be taken lightly, because there are established forces that will hamper and resist, and yet it is a legal and viable enterprise, squarely in the American tradition, and of a piece with the worldwide devolutionary current that has seen the breakup of European empires (including the Soviet) and the expansion of the United Nations from 51 to 193 nations in sixty years.

Moreover, the accumulating signs point to a series of major crises that will seriously disrupt and may even destroy the American system in the near future. These include economic disruptions in the wake of global "peak oil" production before 2010, deterioration of the power of the dollar through mounting and uncontrollable national debt and trade imbalances, continued degradation of vital ecosystems on which the nation depends, climate change and severe weather causing widespread devastation of coastal areas, extended use of military force worldwide leading to increased terrorism and the reinstitution of the draft, judicial takeovers at the Federal level by rightwing ideologues capable of altering fundamental legal rights, and terrorist attacks at facilities (nuclear plants, harbors, chemical factories) the government has been unable or unwilling to protect. Those who want to absent and cushion themselves from suchlike devastations would reasonably want to explore ways of removing their communities and regions from dangerous national political and economic mechanisms that are incapable of reform.

It is for these reasons that The Middlebury Institute hopes to foster a national movement in the United States that will:

* place secession on the national political agenda,

* encourage secessionist and separatist movements here and abroad,

* develop communication among such existing and future groups,

* create a body of scholarship to examine and promote the ideas of separatism,

* and work carefully and thoughtfully for the ultimate task, the peaceful dissolution of the American empire.

Further reading:
Middlebury Declaration
Second Vermont Republic

More info here.

California supports 67% of the American econony. If California would secede, it would help the cause and throw out those who have corrupted our beautiful America.

Cindy was just arrested at a protest march in DC

I'm sure Cindy will survive the experience unharmed and more dedicated than ever. The anti-war movement couldn't hope for a better boost than intervention by the fascist gestapo. The news has reached as far as Ireland already and it's breaking fast worldwide.

Excellent! This can only further help the anti-war movement. The cause is getting shit for coverage on the major news channels so perhaps this may make it to the headlines. The peace message must be brought to more of the people in this country, and the world for that matter, so it certainly helps by showing Cindy being the first one arrested. Keep the peace!

"Is that a real revolution or is that a Sears revolution?" ...Frank Zappa

Daily more people are waking up to what is really taking place, and the movement for change has reached an impetus that will not be denied. It is remarkable indeed that in spite of a media that is tightly controlled, the truth manages to shine forth.

http://thegalacticpost.blogspot.com/2005/09/st-germain-have-faith-future...

Where's the irrefutable facts and proof that tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed? I need proof, before I tell this to other people, not unproven gossip..

Google it and be a man enough to view the carnage. There's your proof. Do you think Georgie is gonna tell you?

Go to Iraq and check it out for yourself. Your local recruiter will be very pleased to make all the travel and other arrangments for you. If you're really lucky, you might even find a communist or two.

The number of vietnamese killed was over 50 thousand, we are all ready at 20,000. Ahain where is the media coverage. This war is not just about American loss of life.

It's inevitable. No one should be surprised.

When you're this power-crazed, it either serves to expand your authority, or you put it out of your mind:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/09/26/bush.military/index.html

http://www.cato.org/dispatch/09-26-05d.html#1

Laura Bush: "George, how about a bag of pretzels for your afternoon snack?"

G.W.: "No thanks Laura, I'm already drunk with power."

---The Bikemessenger

This is a compelling essay. However, I would take exception to one point;the concept of gradual withdrawal.

On the contrary, the rate of withdrawal should be limited only by military logistics,i.e.,the fastest rate military commanders find feasible for an orderly,reasonably safe withdrawal.

It is mistaken to assume that withdrawal must be phased over time. It is based on the erroneous assumption that it is the presence of U.S. troops that prevents even worse violence and chaos.

Rather, U.S. military presence serves both as cause and exascerbating influence to the violence.

Moreover, as pointed out by Tom Engelhart and Michael Schwartz, much of the civilian death is directly at the hands of the U.S. military.They suggest that inspite of the additional inter-factional violence that would insue upon a U.S. withdrawal, overall violence may actually be reduced:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/engelhardt/engelhardt115.html

Additionally, as pointed out by Larry
C. Johnson, there are no positive scenarios, and prolonging U.S. presence can only serve to worsen the inevitable:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/2144

I would agrue that the intial invasion and the ongoing occupation are not distinct and discrete acts. Rather, the latter is merely a continuation of the former. Therefore, the occupation bears the same lack of moral justification that the initial invasion carrys; A fatal shortcoming that no amount of success could overcome.Thus, immediate withdrawal is moral imperative.

Clearly, aside from and in addition to the voluminous and compelling practical agruments for immediate withdrawal presented by Johnson and Engelhart, the abstract moral case for IMMEDIATE withdrawal is overwhelming.

---The Bikmessenger

This is a compelling essay. However, I would take exception to one point;the concept of gradual withdrawal.

On the contrary, the rate of withdrawal should be limited only by military logistics,i.e.,the fastest rate military commanders find feasible for an orderly,reasonably safe withdrawal.

It is mistaken to assume that withdrawal must be phased over time. It is based on the erroneous assumption that it is the presence of U.S. troops that prevents even worse violence and chaos.

Rather, U.S. military presence serves both as cause and exascerbating influence to the violence.

Moreover, as pointed out by Tom Engelhart, much of the civilian death is directly at the hands of the U.S. military.He suggests that inspite of the additional inter-factional violence that would insue upon a U.S. withdrawal, overall violence may actually be reduced:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/engelhardt/engelhardt115.html

Additionally, as pointed out by Larry c. Johnson, there are no positive scenarios, and prolonging U.S. presence can only serve to worsen the inevitable:
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/2144

I would agrue that the intial invasion and the ongoing occupation are not distinct and discrete acts. Rather, the latter is merely a continuation of the former. Therefore, the occupation bears the same lack of moral justification that the initial invasion carrys; A fatal shortcoming that no amount of success could overcome.

Clearly, aside from and in addition to the voluminous and compelling practical agruments for immediate withdrawal presented by Johnson and Engelhart, the abstract moral case for IMMEDIATE withdrawal is overwhelming.

---The Bikmessenger

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