Why Iraq Withdrawal Makes Sense

  1. Why Iraq Withdrawal Makes Sense
    By Norman Solomon
    t r u t h o u t | Perspective

    Friday 18 March 2005

    President Bush just told reporters that he has no intention of setting any timetable for withdrawal. "Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself," he said. Powerful pundits keep telling us that a swift pullout of U.S. troops would be irresponsible. And plenty of people have bought into that idea - including quite a few progressives. Such acceptance is part of what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism."

    Sometimes, an unspoken assumption among progressive activists is that the occupation of Iraq must be tolerated for tactical reasons - while other issues, notably domestic ones, are more winnable on Capitol Hill. But this acceptance means going along with many of the devastating effects of a militarized society: from ravaged budgets for social programs to more authoritarian attitudes and violence in communities across the country.

    "The bombs in Vietnam," King said in 1967, "explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America." He rejected the insistent claims that it would be more prudent to avoid clear opposition to the war in order to concentrate on domestic issues. "I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted," he said. "I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam."

    As spring 2005 begins, many who like to praise Martin Luther King are going out of their way to evade the fundamental destructiveness of this war. Of course, throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, a prevailing argument was that removing U.S. troops would be a betrayal of U.S. responsibility to the people of South Vietnam. Today, likewise, opposition to a swift U.S. pullout from Iraq is often based on the idea that the American military must stay because of a responsibility to the people of Iraq.

    But most Iraqis want the U.S. military out of their country - pronto. As Newsweek reported in its Jan. 31 edition: "Now every major poll shows an ever-larger majority of Iraqis want the Americans to leave." Yet we hear that U.S. troops must stay for the good of the Iraqi people - even though most of those people clearly want U.S. troops to leave. (Are we supposed to believe that Americans know better than Iraqis whether American troops should stay in Iraq?)

    To paper over such illogic, a media-stoked myth tells us that getting out of Iraq is a notion remaining outside the boundaries of what the U.S. public could take seriously. Most politicians and pundits insist that it's off the table. But polls are telling a different story.

    "According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken after the Iraq elections, 59 percent of the public believes the United States should pull its troops out of Iraq in the next year," Amy Quinn of the Institute for Policy Studies wrote in early March. "Yet the ranks of those actively demanding that the president produce an exit strategy from Iraq are slim."

    In mid-March, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that a large proportion of the U.S. population has a negative view of the war. For instance, the poll asked: "All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting or not?" Only 45 percent said "worth fighting," while 53 percent said "not worth fighting."

    Such nationwide poll numbers hardly indicate a country where few people are interested in proposals for extricating U.S. troops from Iraq. But the point is not only that political space exists in the United States for a grassroots movement to effectively organize for a swift pullout. It's also the best alternative for Iraq.

    Consider the perspective of David Enders, a brave American journalist who has been in Iraq most of the time since the invasion. While writing for such outlets as MotherJones.com, the Nation magazine and the British daily Independent, he actually covers Iraqi society firsthand rather than staying behind American lines. Days ago, responding to my questions via email from Iraq, Enders provided some of the reasons for his assessment that American troops should leave rather than stay. For instance:

    * "It is the will of the Iraqi people." Enders cites a recent survey by Iraqi pollster Saadun Al-Dulaimie, who found that 85 percent of Iraqi people want U.S. troops out of their country as soon as possible.

    * "The U.S. does not provide security for the average Iraqi, and it never has."

    * "The U.S. has not prevented a civil war from taking place. If anything, it has exacerbated it."

    * "It is not morally derelict to pull out; it's morally derelict to stay. Returning real control and sovereignty to Iraqis is the most effective way to prevent the country from breaking apart. U.S. troops complain Iraqis don't want to stand up and fight for themselves, and a big part of the reason is the occupiers' presence."

    Meanwhile, Enders voices enthusiasm for the resolution sponsored by more than two dozen members of the House of Representatives "expressing the sense of Congress that the President should develop and implement a plan to begin the immediate withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq" (House Concurrent Resolution 35.)

    This spring, as U.S. activists work to build a strong movement against the war, the need to pressure Congress is clear. What's less apparent is the need to also push - and, if necessary, confront - hesitant progressive organizations that are taking the easy way out by refusing to challenge the ongoing war.

    Fortunately, some national organizations are providing forthright leadership to pursue the goal of getting U.S. troops out of Iraq. Those groups - including United for Peace & Justice, Progressive Democrats of America, Military Families Speak Out, TrueMajority, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Code Pink, Campus Antiwar Network, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Pledge of Resistance, American Friends Service Committee, Democracy Rising and U.S. Labor Against the War, to name just a dozen - inspire as they organize.

    Only clear opposition to the war can change the terms of the national debate. Taking the paths of least resistance won't get us very far.

    Norman Solomon's latest book, "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death," will be published in early summer. His columns and other writings can be found at: normansolomon.com
  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   Rep
    Good article.

    Immediate pull out of the US Military would to lead to destructive results.

    One thing for sure the Iraqis are not yet capable and competent enough to fight the insurgents. I think it would be better for the US Military to pull out to the Iraq countryside to minimize their presence in the key cites and at the same vigorously train the Iraqi Army and Police units. As the presence condition says that attacks on Iraqi governemnt government forces are increasing while on Americans are discreasing.

    But America should definitely leave Iraq in the near future once the government is capable of functioning and protecting itself from threats internally.
  4. by   Mkue
    I agree with your entire post Rep. Well stated.
  5. by   Tweety
    So Rep, our goal is to build up their military, then leave them to have a civil war. What if they lose after we go, do we go back and rescue them again?
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    NO we will be too busy in Iran and Syria.
  7. by   jnette
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    NO we will be too busy in Iran and Syria.
    really not funny, though, eh? :uhoh21:
  8. by   SmilingBluEyes
    not at all funny.
  9. by   Thunderwolf
    Not funny, but possibly very true. Plenty of folks over there for Bush to pick a fight with and distract the American public from its real issues. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a lowly citizen who watches the gas prices soar, our troops getting killed, our future Social Security monies at risk to be sucked up by investors, US corporate fraud almost happening daily as they ship our jobs overseas in the interest of trade, and the rich getting richer as the poorer get poorer (without affordable health care). Hey what do I know? He's got a mandate...but for God knows who?
  10. by   Rep
    Quote from Tweety
    So Rep, our goal is to build up their military, then leave them to have a civil war. What if they lose after we go, do we go back and rescue them again?

    Yes, build up their military to the point they can defeat the rebels with out American help.

    You have a point. Unless the job is not done right then there will be a civil war at hand.

    All different groups should unite under one common government for this to happen. The Shites and the Kurds need the cooperation of the Sunnis. With this, a stable Iraqi nation is possible.
  11. by   Tweety
    Rep, there alrady is a Civil War going on. Otherwise theer wouldn't be continuing casualities. It's a mess.
  12. by   UnewmeB4
    When we pulled out of "Nam", look what happened. The South fell quickly. Fast forward...we now import goods from there.

    An excellent book on the ending, is told by one of the last Marines there. He interviewed people form The US, The South, and the North. He has no time for people in government. He was a gung-ho Marine. The title is "Good Nght Vietnam".

    I bring this up as we are now fighting someone else's war, on someone else's home, when we don't understand their world. Makes no sense to me
  13. by   Rep
    But not in magnitude as in Somalia where there is no form of government or the people are divided between two opposing forces.

    In my opinion, there is an active insurgency happening in Iraq but at a level that a govenment can still functions as one. Basic services are still delivered in some areas, etc... Maybe a bit similar to us here, an active communist and two Islamic rebelions but the Philippine government and the society still function as one.

    That is why the insurgents are shifting their attacks on Iraqi goverment forces because they fear that a stable goverment will render their insurgency useless. No people in their right minds will support a rebellion when they are being taken care of by the goverment or at best the government is doing all its best to serve the people despite the attacks. Just my honest opinion.

    Quote from Tweety
    Rep, there alrady is a Civil War going on. Otherwise theer wouldn't be continuing casualities. It's a mess.
  14. by   pickledpepperRN

    If You Believe in Freedom, Step Aside
    By Steve Weissman
    Wednesday 30 March 2005

    A frightening tale from Iraq shows how Mr. Bush's call to "democratize" the Middle East has already bogged down in the graveyard of impossible choices. ...

    ...So, the choice for Bush and Blair comes down to this: Get out of Iraq now, and risk another Iran. Stay, and make an even more repressive Islamic Republic almost inevitable...
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Nov 22, '05