16 Congress members tell Bush to bring the troops home now
United for Peace and Justice
On Jan. 12, 16 members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush calling on him to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
This initiative is a clear reflection of the breadth of antiwar sentiment across the country, and a sign that the demand to bring the troops home now is gaining more and more mainstream support. The Congressional letter comes at a pivotal moment when, according to the New York Times (Jan. 10), discussions of how the U.S. might disengage from Iraq are "bubbling up in Congress, in the Pentagon and some days even in the White House."
Every day brings news of more defections from Bush's "stay the course" policy:
• North Carolina Republican Rep. Howard Coble, head of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, declared Jan. 8 that "it's time for the U.S. to consider withdrawing." Noting a shift in public opinion in his largely conservative district, Coble's office announced that "letters, phone calls and messages that had been overwhelmingly supportive of the war are now about even."
• Brent Scowcroft, National Security Adviser during Bush's father's presidency, stated Jan. 6 that the situation in Iraq now raised the "fundamental question of whether we should get out now." At the same Washington, D.C., insider event, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski flatly declared, "I do not think we can stay in Iraq in the fashion we're in now. If it cannot be changed drastically, it should be terminated."
• The government of the Ukraine, which recently elected a "pro-Western" leader, announced it was accelerating the full pullout of all its troops from Iraq.
• The latest U.S. opinion polls indicate that a majority of the U.S. people believe invading Iraq was wrong or not worth the price.
• Mel Gibson, a hero of many conservatives, shocked many of his fans after the People's Choice awards Jan. 9 by declaring that he liked Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" and exclaimed: "What the hell are we doing in Iraq? No one can explain to me in a reasonable manner that I can accept why we're there, why we went there and why we're still there."
The overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people want the U.S. out. The overwhelming majority of the world's people want to the U.S. out. If we can do our part in mobilizing and activating millions of people here, success is within our grasp.
Now, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, is the time for re-doubling anti-war efforts. "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability," Dr. King said, “but comes through continuous struggle.”
Letter from 16 members of Congress
Dear Mr. President,
We write to urge you to take immediate steps to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
Although the initial invasion of Iraq may have occurred with minimal troop deaths, the subsequent occupation of the country has been anything but successful. Already more than 1,300 American troops have lost their lives since the war began on March 19, 2003. At least 10,000 American troops have been injured as well, and it is impossible to know exactly how many thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed. Despite the enormity of the war's casualties, the Iraqi insurgency continues to grow stronger with every passing day.
Iraq is no closer to becoming a stable democracy today than it was two years ago, as evidenced in recent weeks by the daily torrent of insurgent attacks on American forces and Iraqi civilian leaders. On January 4th, insurgents assassinated Ali Haidari, the governor of the Iraqi province that includes Baghdad. Just as devastating to the prospect of democracy, on December 30th, al-Jazeera satellite channel reported that all 700 electoral workers in Mosul quit their posts out of fear of being killed. Two weeks later, on January 10th, the entire 13-member electoral commission in the Anbar province, just west of Baghdad, resigned after being threatened by insurgents. If even Iraqi election officials fear for their lives, how can we possibly expect Iraqi citizens to feel safe going to the polls? How can we continue to put our own troops in harm's way, the continued targets for Iraq's thousands of malcontent insurgents?
It has become clear that the existence of more than 130,000 American troops stationed on Iraqi soil is infuriating to the Iraqi people - especially because Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction and did not have a connection to the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, or to the al Qaeda terrorist organization. Indeed, the very presence of Americans in Iraq is a rallying point for dissatisfied people in the Arab world. The events of the last two years have not only intensified the rage of the extremist Muslim terrorists, they have also ignited civil hostilities in Iraq that have made Americans and Iraqis substantially less safe. Therefore, by removing our troops from the country, we will remove the main focus of the insurgents' rage.
Again, while it may be logistically difficult to immediately remove every American soldier, we urge you to take immediate action to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. This is the only way to truly support our troops. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Lynn Woolsey, Calif., (202) 225-5161
Danny Davis, Ill., (202) 225-5006
Lane Evans, Ill., (202) 225-5905
Sam Farr, Calif., (202) 225-2861
Raul Grijalva, Ariz., (202) 225-2435
Alcee Hastings, Fla., (202) 225-1313
Maurice Hinchey, N.Y., (202) 225-6335
Jesse Jackson Jr., Ill., (202) 225-0773
Dennis Kucinich, Ohio, (202) 225-5871
Barbara Lee, Calif., (202) 225-2661
John Lewis, Ga., (202) 225-3801
Jim McDermott, Wash., (202) 225-3106
Grace Napolitano, Calif., (202) 225-5256
Major Owens, N.Y., (202) 225-6231
Jose Serrano, N.Y., (202) 225-4361
Pete Stark, Calif., (202) 225-5065
Follow-up letter from Reps. Lee and Stark
After signing that letter, East Bay Reps. Barbara Lee of Oakland and Pete Stark of Fremont sent a follow-up letter providing concrete steps that Bush should take, to include:
• removing troops immediately from the villages, towns and cities and redeploying a portion to guard Iraq's porous borders;"Perversely,” noted Congresswoman Lee, “our young women and men in uniform are getting killed every day to accomplish a mission that only their withdrawal can accomplish.”
• convening of an emergency meeting of Iraq's leadership, its neighbors, the United Nations and pan-Arab organizations to form an international peacekeeping force;
• ending war profiteering by U.S. companies that receive no-bid contracts; and
• redoubling efforts to ensure the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure.
What you can do
The Congressional letter to George Bush is an opportunity to strengthen our grassroots cry for peace and up the pressure on Congress. The Bush administration will soon be asking Congress to approve an additional $80-$100 billion for the war in Iraq. Now is the time to start our work to halt this deadly use of our tax dollars.
If you are represented by any of the signers of the letter to Bush, call and thank them. If not, ask your member of Congress to send a similar letter to the president and to release it to the media. Visit www.congress.org for contact information. Ask your member to condition any future funds for Iraq on an explicit commitment to begin withdrawing the troops. Try to set up a meeting with your representative or an aide. For talking points, visit www.ips-dc.org/iraq/bringthetroops.htm.
Make sure that newspapers large and small around the country are deluged with antiwar letters and that leaders in Washington, D.C., are flooded with antiwar calls, letters and emails. And share this email widely. It is important that people across the country know about this initiative and the growing momentum to bring the troops home now.
Begin building for the global day of action to end the war on March 19. The two-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion is approaching, and people all over the world will be taking to the streets to call for the troops to come home now. Start organizing a March 19 action in your community, and list your event at www.unitedforpeace.org/events.
© San Francisco Bay View