After nearly 9 years, the U.S. is withdrawing troops from Iraq.
There is no doubt in my mind that this couldn’t have happened without you.
Before this war even began, you responded to President Bush’s announcement by hitting the streets and taking part in the largest worldwide protests in history. After the first bombs fell, you continued marching in protest after protest in city after city. Over the years, you’ve called, wrote, and even occupied Congress. You’ve spent cold nights in solemn vigils waving to passing cars. You’ve forwarded Action Alerts, registered voters, and spread the word to friends and family. You’ve joined with thousands of others to support Peace Action and maintain a nationwide network of concerned and committed activists.
By 2008, you had made the war in Iraq an inescapable election issue.
President Obama, our first black President, was elected under pressure to end this war. After his election, you kept the pressure on. Now, President Obama has announced that the 41,000 U.S. troops currently deployed to Iraq will return home by December 31.
In our tireless struggle, we must count our victories.
This is a momentous victory for you, after years of unwavering commitment. This is a victory for an entire generation of youth, who have grown up only knowing war. This is a victory for the Iraqi people, who have suffered by the millions and ultimately refused to allow U.S. troops to remain after the agreed upon deadline. And this is a victory for our troops and their families, who are no longer put in danger for an unnecessary war.
Of course, our work is not done.
The State Department is planning to maintain an army of thousands of private security contractors in Iraq. Our service members are returning home to a devastated economy with few job prospects and facing the possibility of redeployment to Afghanistan. Our veterans face a rising suicide epidemic and will require our care for decades to come. We will have to call upon all of our collective power to remain vigilant for peace.
As move into 2012, our work continues. We will continue to push for negotiations in Afghanistan, we will keep up the pressure to make ending the Afghanistan War an election-year issue, and together we will shift our national priorities to move the money from wars and weapons back to our communities.
Humbly for Peace,
Executive Director, Peace Action