Bring the Troops Home!
Today, the Iraqi people are celebrating the beginning of U.S. troop withdrawals as 'National Sovereignty Day'. This, because under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed by the Iraqi government and the Bush administration, all U.S. combat troops are to withdraw from Iraq's cities and towns on June 30th, today. After six long years of war and occupation, it is no wonder Iraqis are celebrating this first symbolic benchmark.
But huge challenges lie ahead for the Iraqi people, as they work to regain control of their country and address the fragile political, economic, and security situation found there.
The road for the U.S. military out of Iraq remains much too long. And even this first positive step, now officially underway, is not a certainty. It is a benchmark toward total withdrawal -- and from what we know so far, the U.S. military is far from meeting that test. U.S. military officials have already described how combat troops will be 're-missioned' as 'trainers', so that they can continue combat operations in another guise. The Army Times magazine reports on frantic construction and expansion of U.S. military bases just outside municipal boundaries so combat troops can sleep outside the major cities, thus fulfilling the SOFA's obligations, while continuing to conduct combat operations.
Since this immoral, illegal war was launched, we have said that the roadblock to a secure and sovereign Iraq is the U.S. military occupation! That is still true. The U.S. occupation troops have not been able to protect Iraqi civilians from the vicious toll of the last two weeks' bombings. When we hear pro-war politicians question whether Iraqi troops are "ready" to provide security for the Iraqi people, we must remind them that it is the U.S. occupation that fuels insurgency.
We must keep Iraqi in the public eye and continue our call for the rapid and total end of the U.S. occupation even as each SOFA benchmark arrives.
An endless occupation is not in the interests of the Iraqi and U.S. peoples. 73% of Iraqis want the U.S. troops to leave. At this moment of economic crisis, we cannot afford the hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for this war (including the $77 billion Congress recently allocated to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just through this September!). The security and economic needs of both the Iraqis and the U.S. peoples cannot be met while the war and occupation continues.
We urge that you mark this day by calling your Congressional representative at 202-225-3121 and contacting the White House at 202-456-1111. You can also contact the White House online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/
Tell the President and Congress to:
- Implement the spirit, as well as the letter, of the Status of Forces Agreement. We want a total and complete withdrawal -- not just changes in job titles.
- All the U.S. troops could leave before the current 2012 deadline -- if President Obama takes the steps promised when he announced an 18-month withdrawal plan. He said, "Going forward, the United States will pursue principled and sustained engagement with all nations in the region, including Iran and Syria." Diplomacy, not more war!
- Take the same path out of Afghanistan: stop escalating, withdraw the U.S. troops, and begin negotiations.