by Ann Wright, CommonDreams.org, March 19, 2010
Seven years ago today I resigned from the U.S. government in opposition to the Bush administration’s war on Iraq.
I had worked for the State Department for sixteen years and had been in the Army and Army Reserves for 29 years. I was one of three U.S. diplomats who resigned over the Bush administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq and one of tens if not hundreds of thousands of government employees that knew the war on Iraq would jeopardize our national security, not improve it.
While I was in the process of making my decision to resign, millions of Americans and tens of millions of people from around the world took to the streets to protest the pending invasion and occupation of Iraq and the inevitable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Tomorrow I will be marching in Washington, DC and will join with hundreds of thousands of Americans all over our country to protest the continuation of Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan by the Obama administration.
Seven years in Afghanistan
Looking our country’s history of invasions and occupations, I guess I should not be surprised that seven years later, over 100,000 U.S. military and 100,000 U.S. contractors would remain in Iraq and that a new president, elected by many to end the wars, would be following lockstep the old president’s blueprint on the wars and on so many other issues.
President Obama, who professed to having been opposed to the Iraq war, has not speeded up the removal of U.S. military forces from Iraq. Bush’s plan for leaving a force of 50,000 U.S. military until the end of 2011 is being implemented with little variation by Obama. These “non-combat” 50,000 forces will actually be combat troops renamed as trainers and advisors to Iraqi security forces and quick reaction forces to continue to combat operations when needed.
No one of the Obama administration will state how many private security contractors will remain in Iraq. Private security contractors serve as extensions of combat military forces and, if any administration was honest about in counting U.S. combat power, should be added to the military numbers.
By the Bush-Obama timetable, all U.S. military troops are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, but whether the 100,000 U.S. contractors will remain is conveniently unclear.
If you thought this Iraq timetable was too long under Bush, then one would hope that you think it is too long under Obama also.
Eight and one-half years in Afghanistan
This month marks eight and one-half years the U.S. military has been an occupying force in Afghanistan. Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has increased dramatically U.S. military operations in Afghanistan with an increase of 30,000 troops. Now over 100,000 U.S. military are in Afghanistan with the number of U.S. contractors topping 75,000 and scheduled to increase even further.
The Obama administration has increased enormously the use of assassination drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a major increase in civilian deaths from drone attacks. Large scale combat operations in sparsely populated areas of Afghanistan are underway. We are told the operations are for clearing Taliban, but in reality they seem to be consolidating power in the area for Afghan President Karzai’s brother Walid who is reported by many to be involved in Afghanistan’s huge drug trade and extending U.S. military occupation of greater regions of the country.
Show your concerns tomorrow and every day-jobs, schools, healthcare-not more war and other criminal acts by our own government!
There are many reasons to be on the streets tomorrow. Protesting wars of aggression, accountability for government officials violating our own laws as well as domestic laws, is another reason.
Despite claims that he would close Guantanamo within his first year, President Obama continues the imprisonment policies of Bush and looks like he will fold to right-wing Republican pressure to continue to use the tainted military commissions to try prisoners with “evidence” obtained by torture.
Ominously, the Obama administration is refusing to hold accountable key officials in the Bush administration who violated U.S. and international law which makes torture illegal. The names of these officials are well-known–John Yoo, Jay Bybee (now a federal court judge), Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington. And former Vice-President Cheney still makes public statements that torture is fine and that water boarding is appropriate and legal.
Many citizens believe that there must be accountability for the Bush administration otherwise future administrations, including the Obama administration, may attempt to conduct criminal action while in office with impunity. Today I join hundreds who will protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, John Yoo’s freedom while he sentenced thousands to be tortured by his legal opinions under as justification for torture by the Bush administration.
Greed from huge corporate war profits and from financial system profits that miraculously rebounded in record time with our tax bailout while millions of Americans are out of work, schools in America close and healthcare costs skyrocket should move millions of us to be visibly and vocally challenging both political parties who share the blame in the dangerous situation America is in.
After spending most of my adult life in either the U.S. military or the U.S. diplomatic corps, I strongly believe we must let our officials know of our displeasure and anger, and I hope you will join your friends and neighbors on the streets tomorrow, March 20, to challenge war and business as usual in America.
Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” (www.voicesofconscience.com)