Posts Tagged ‘US forces in Iraq’

Asking the Hard Questions About the Iraq War

March 20, 2009

by Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters | The San Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 2009

Six years ago this week, President George W. Bush launched our nation into one of the most disastrous, misguided and dangerous military actions in our history – the initial invasion and proceeding occupation of Iraq.

Now, as a new administration seeks to withdraw troops from Iraq, it’s essential that the media, the public and those of us in elected office hold them accountable.

This time, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for those of us who support President Obama (who himself opposed the invasion from the beginning), we must hold our Iraq policy accountable and demand answers to tough questions regarding how and when our occupation of Iraq will end.

Last month, Obama laid forth a time line for the drawdown of our military presence in Iraq. His proposal would have two-thirds of our troops home by August 2010, with the remaining force of 50,000 scheduled to leave by the end of 2011, almost three years from now. While his announcement received praise from both sides of the political aisle, it has not received an honest and frank discussion of its merits and potential faults.

Americans seem to be collectively trying to forget about Iraq, and while we appreciate the president’s decision, his declaration allows us to simply move on and focus on other issues. While this reaction is understandable, it is also dangerous.

We cannot afford to ignore the enormous risks and potential sacrifices that loom ahead. As founders of the Out of Iraq Caucus, our position has been clear all along. We opposed the war and occupation from the start, and we have worked day-in and day-out to end it.

We believe that ending the occupation of Iraq means redeploying all troops and all military contractors out of Iraq. It also means leaving behind no permanent bases and renouncing any claims upon Iraqi oil.

We remain concerned about the president’s plan – not opposed to it, but concerned. The plan calls for 127,000 troops to stay in Iraq until the end of this year, and for 50,000 troops to remain in Iraq for another two-and-a-half years after that. We cannot imagine the need for such an enormous military commitment. How did military planners agree on such a large residual force, one which is comparable in size to our force levels in South Korea at the height of the Cold War?

What role will this transitional force play in the event that violence flares back up?

And what steps are being taken to address the 190,000 American contractors in Iraq and to dismantle our permanent bases? These questions must be addressed before we can move forward.

America’s interests in Iraq and the region will best be advanced by reducing the size of our military footprint and making greater use of our other assets of national power, including diplomacy, reconciliation, commerce, development assistance and humanitarian aid.

As we solemnly mark the beginning of a seventh year of the conflict in Iraq, we not only reflect on the incredible sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the military, but also demand an honest assessment of the potential future obstacles that their brothers and sisters in arms will face.

We urge everyone to remain engaged and continue to aggressively question Iraq war policy. This includes Republicans, Democrats, independents and, especially, the news media. We must all be willing to ask the hard questions as we work toward the common goal of ending the war and occupation, redeploying all American troops and military contractors out of Iraq and reuniting them with their families and loved ones.

As Obama has said, “We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, are founders of the Out of Iraq Caucus.

Growing Evidence US Won’t Honor Iraq Pact

December 15, 2008

Gen. Odierno Says US Troops Will Remain in Cities Despite SOFA Timeline, December 14, 2008

Yesterday, top US military commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno said that, though the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) explicitly requires all US forces to be out of Iraqi cities by June 30, he expects troops will remain in the cities past that date. The Sadr bloc’s Liwaa Sumeissim said this underscored their belief that the US doesn’t feel bound by the pact, and that he expects the US to use any pretext to keep forces in Iraq beyond that 2011 deadline as well.

And once again, the Iraqi government seems to have little objection with the US going back on one of the key tenets of the SOFA it sold to parliament. The Iraqi Defense Ministry says that US troops will be allowed to remain in cities past the deadline with permission from the Iraqi government. The permission to flout the terms of the SOFA seems remarkably easy for the US to obtain, leaving open the question of which clauses of the pact will carry any weight going forward.

The parliamentary bloc of Shi’ite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stood as the primary opponents of the SOFA, which narrowly passed late last month. The bloc said the SOFA would legitimize the US occupation, and expressed skepticism that the US would honor the terms at any rate. The last few days have only strengthened that case.

And on Friday Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, at a Pentagon press briefing, was already speaking of keeping American forces in Iraq past the 2011 “firm” deadline the SOFA dictates.

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compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]

Bush to hasten Iraq troop withdrawal in bid to help McCain win White House

July 14, 2008

By Leonard Doyle in Washington | The Independent, Monday, 14 July 2008

John McCain with George Bush, who hopes to reassure US voters

John McCain with George Bush, who hopes to reassure US voters

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President George Bush wants to speed up the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq, a move that could help to quell the anti-war anxieties of voters before November’s presidential election.

Drawing down large numbers of troops would enable the Republican candidate, John McCain, to say that his forceful military strategy for Iraq was correct. Alone among Republican and Democratic politicians, he consistently urged Mr Bush to take on the insurgents with extra forces. He is now attacking his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, for preaching policies of defeat by calling for a withdrawal in 16 months.

American commanders want to reduce their deployment in Iraq to ease the strain on the military and free up troops for Afghanistan where they are taking a beating from the Taliban and other militants.

Nine American soldiers were killed and 15 wounded yesterday in the bloodiest day in three years for US forces in Afghanistan. In a multi-pronged attack, revealing sophistication and daring, militants overran a remote US base near the Pakistan border on the front lines of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It was the deadliest on US forces in the country since 16 combat troops were killed when their helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade in the same area in 2005.

Concerns are also growing that Mr Bush wants to release fighting forces before he leaves office in January, in the event of conflict with Iran.

By the times of Mr Bush’s departure, three of the 15 combat brigades now in Iraq could have left the country, say government and military officials. That would still leave up to 130,000 frontline troops in the field – a reduction from the 170,000 deployed in the “surge” last year.

A rapid US withdrawal would mark a sharp turnaround in the fortunes of the Bush administration from only two years ago, amid the bloody slaughter of growing numbers of Iraqis and American soldiers. Anti-war feeling is at fever pitch in the US and the military is said to be near breaking point from its extended combat deployments.

Continued . . .

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