By Chuck Pennacchio
"It is common knowledge that the Bush administration took America into war with Iraq by misleading the American public and the international community. Now the Bush Administration is keeping our military in Iraq -- also through deceptive means, specious arguments, and flawed thinking. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars and spilling oceans of American and Iraqi blood based on false assumptions, ideological obsessions, and arrogant decision-making.
"The stated goal of the Bush Administration is to promote 'democracy' in Iraq. They claim that they are succeeding because there was an election there this past spring. But, as all Americans know, democracy is far more than a plebiscite boycotted by the second- largest population group (Iraqi Sunnis) in a 3000-year-old, war-torn nation with no tradition of participatory politics. To cite the example best known to us, our fledgling United States held its first national election in 1788 -- but only after we had a unified country, a federal constitution, and a functional post-war economy. By extreme contrast, Iraq is deeply divided along religious, cultural, ethnic, economic, and political lines. There is no constitution unifying these factions. The economy is in shambles, with an official unemployment rate of 50% and an unofficial rate of 75%. The supposed progress toward national unity, economic stability, and constitutional cohesion (delayed for yet another week) -- not to mention continued civil war and rampant anti-Americanism -- is all evidence that the Bush administration is in the midst a Vietnem-like quagmire. You need go no further than Senator Chuck Hagel's (R-NE) poignant critique on national television this past Sunday.
"The true goal of the administration's neoconservative foreign policy in Iraq, and beyond, is to establish a permanent American military presence. One major purpose of that militarization, of course, is to secure oil fields on behalf of energy companies, like Dick Cheney's Halliburton, that benefit so directly from the Bush Doctrine's policy of unilateral engagement. The hallmark of this administration, in fact, is to do the bidding for a handful of multinational corporations that serve their own interests -- and not the interests of American workers, American consumers, and our American nation. At the same time these global corporations put the United States at further risk by rejecting national policies that promote greater energy independence.
"The bottom line is this: the longer our military remains in Iraq, the more dangerous life becomes for our already-overstretched men and women in uniform; the more difficult becomes our global struggle against al Qaeda; and the weaker we become in terms of protecting our American homeland, responding to imminent challenges coming from North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan, and reacting to terrorist cells based in 60-plus countries, including the United States, Great Britain, and Germany. Our military presence exacerbates instability in Iraq itself, and drives a wedge between the United States and our traditional allies -- without whom we could not have won the Cold War. Moreover, American militarization of Iraq provides a catalyst for rogue states such as Iran and North Korea to build up their own nuclear weapons programs, to export weapons of mass destruction, to harbor al Qaeda-like terrorist cells, to sponsor terrorist attacks against innocent nations and people, and to openly challenge U.S.-led international programs designed to halt illegal nuclear arms sales. It diverts resources we need elsewhere: 95% of America's military is on their way to, in, or on their way home from Iraq. Americans and Iraqis die and are wounded, and the financial cost of the war saddles our children with a huge debt.
"We must end our military involvement in Iraq quickly and in orderly fashion. We must develop an exit strategy timeline that brings American troops home as soon as is feasible. We must balance the desire to protect our troops with the unfortunate reality that leaving without a stabilization strategy in place will send the nation of Iraq spiraling into civil war and chaos. We must work to rebuild our alliances throughout the world in order to salvage good out of a campaign that has been disastrously mismanaged. We must engage the Arab and Muslim world and our traditional allies in Europe and Asia and encourage them to take a leadership role in the stabilization of Iraq."