If you are in agreement with this statement, please make a copy of it, sign it, and send it to the White House and your representatives in Congress. This is a critical time to weigh in. Putting this in the regular mail, as opposed to email, can give it more political weight. It is more effort, but it is worth it.
On February 27, 2009, President Barack Obama outlined “a new strategy to end the war in Iraq through a transition to full Iraqi responsibility.”
The words “end the war in Iraq” coming from a US president are welcome to the world. But President Obama’s “new strategy” is not new; the deadline for US troop departure from Iraq in the Obama plan, the end of 2011, is exactly the same as the deadline set in the Status of Forces agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government. Moreover, the Obama plan does not really “end” the Iraq War if we consider some basic points.
President Obama said that over the next year and a half the U.S. will progressively withdraw its combat brigades and that “by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.” However, he intends to keep 35,000 to 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq until the end of 2011 to assist the Iraqi military and for “conducting targeted counter-insurgency missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts in Iraq.”
Considering the presence now of about 140,000 U.S. mercenary military “contractors” in Iraq, it appears that after August 2010, President Obama intends to maintain a military force of nearly 200,000 Americans who will be continuing to conduct “counter-insurgency” combat missions, which is essentially what is happening now, only with a larger number of U.S. forces. While the Obama plan may put fewer Americans at risk, it in no way reduces the sense of dread and the actual risk for the Iraqi people, who will continue to be subject to attack by U.S. forces equipped with extraordinarily deadly ground and air weapons.
The US invasion of Iraq violated the United Nations Charter and was fundamentally illegal. The US occupation is also illegal, and the US has, over the six years of this occupation, systematically violated international law in sustaining the occupation through a variety of war crimes including torture, preventive detention, indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations and disproportionate use of firepower.
The gross violation of international legal principles, undertaken with abandon by the US government, and yet to be recognized by the US government, has led to the deaths of over one million Iraqis, the creation of at least 2.5 million Iraqi refugees, the maiming of tens of thousands of Iraqis, the illegal detentions of tens of thousands of Iraqis and the profound degrading of one of the most advanced economies and societies in the Middle East.
The violation of international legal principles has also resulted in the deaths of more than 4,200 Americans, the wounding of more than 100,000, according to disability filings, and the destruction of thousands of US military families.
The continued US occupation of Iraq until the end of 2011, as planned by President Obama, violates international principles and keeps the door wide open for nearly three more years of killing, violations of human rights and unforeseen tragic, destructive events that have characterized the US involvement in Iraq throughout. We can know with certainty that every day of the US occupation of Iraq will bring more Iraqi deaths and imprisonments, and deaths and injuries of Americans and the inevitable, continued erosion of Iraqi and US morale and economies.
The invasion and occupation have severely undermined, if not destroyed, Iraq’s capability for self-reliance by dismantling their government, agriculture, education, industrial, energy and health care systems; the occupation delays the moment when Iraqis can regain complete control of their resources and act fully in their self-interest.
President Obama speaks of recognizing the sovereignty of Iraqi people, which was violated by the invasion and occupation. However, his schedule for withdrawal does not recognize this sovereignty or respect the lives and capabilities of the Iraqi people. Rather the US schedule appears devised primarily to extend the period during which the US will seek to incorporate Iraq into a US plan for political and economic dominance in the Middle East. Note that President Obama did not touch on the future of the huge US military bases in Iraq. Further, his selection of Chris Hill, a former US ambassador to the Republic of Korea, suggests that the US may be looking toward a decades-long military presence in Iraq at the behest of a compliant Iraqi government.
We urge President Obama to revise his Iraq strategy to bring a withdrawal of all US military forces and all US contractors from Iraq by the end of 2009 or sooner. We urge Congress to: not approve any further funding for the occupation of Iraq; and to specifically approve only those funds required for the total withdrawal of US military forces and contractors by the end of 2009, the closure of all US military bases in Iraq by the end of 2009 and a meaningful contribution to the reconstruction/reparations for Iraq.
David Swanson – Co-founder, AfterDowningStreet.org
Kevin Zeese – Executive Director, Voters for Peace
Nada Khader – Executive Director, WESPAC Foundation, Westchester County, NY
Ward Reilly – Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Veterans for Peace; Lifetime Member,
Disabled American Veterans
Michael H. Sussman Esq. – Civil rights attorney and Convener, Orange County (NY)
Khusro Elley – President, Board of Directors, WESPAC Foundation
Ardeshire Ommani – American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)
Eleanor Ommani – American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)
Mary Fox – Member of the Middle East Committee, WESPAC Foundation
Nick Mottern – Director, Consumers for Peace.org
Andrew Courtney – Red Hill Films
Don DeBar – Peace Train Coalition
Arthur Grant, MD
Jeanne D. Shaw – Artist, poet, activist, member of WESPAC