Iraq

Congress responds: our troops are leaving Iraq

Today, President Obama announced the overdue end to the war in Iraq. We were pushing for a complete withdrawal up until the last minute, with the Pentagon and some hawks pushing for a residual force past the agreed-upon deadline. We are finally seeing the results of the dedicated and persistent activism of thousands of people worldwide.

One of the reasons I wanted to work at Peace Action West was my outrage at the Iraq war that had started just six months before, and it is wonderful to see the inspiring activism I’ve witnessed and participated in over the last eight years bear fruit. While this war never should have started in the first place, the end of the war is a significant victory that has real life consequences; soldiers can safely return home and Iraqis can finally have their country back.

Many members of Congress hailed the announcement. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) highlighted the work and she and her allies have done in Congress to make sure the deadline stuck:

This is a huge victory for those of us who have been pushing for an end to the war in Iraq. I look forward to welcoming our brave men and women back home for the holidays. We will never forget the enormous sacrifices made by so many of our brave men and women and their families. We must honor our commitment to our veterans.

This move fulfills the call of a letter to the President that I spearheaded in July, along with 92 members of Congress, urging the Administration to maintain our nation’s SOFA agreement with the government of Iraq that commits our nation to bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this calendar year. It also fulfills the objective of legislation I introduced, H.R. 2757, The Iraq Withdrawal Accountability Act of 2011, which would prohibit funding for any extension of the December 31, 2011 deadline.

We are grateful to Rep. Lee and all of our allies in Congress who worked with us and tirelessly pushed to end this war. Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) called the announcement a victory for Iraqis and progressives:

President Obama’s announcement is a victory for America and another monumental step toward the end of the disastrous foreign policy of the Bush era. We thank the president for fulfilling his promise to the American people to end this misguided war quickly and responsibly. For nearly a decade, Americans across the country spoke out against this war, and now we can turn the page on a troubled period in American history. This is a long overdue victory for not just the people of Iraq, but the progressive movement that consistently opposed this costly and unjustified war.

As the president honors his commitment to America’s voters, we must also honor our commitment to our veterans by ensuring that they and their families receive the full benefits they have earned. We owe them nothing less.

 

Many members rightly pointed out that there is still the thorny issue of private military contractors in Iraq. From Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA):

I am happy to hear President Obama’s announcement that our troops will be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year. This is significant progress in the right direction. However, I am still concerned about the thousands of contractors who will continue to work in Iraq, and whether their continued presence constitutes a real withdrawal from the nation. While I hope the transition to a self-governing Iraq is a smooth one, I also hope for a true withdrawal of U.S. involvement.

Others celebrated this milestone, while bringing attention back to the fact that tens of thousands of troops and Afghans are still dealing with the tragedy of war in Afghanistan. After praising the announcement. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said:

It is important to remember that, as we are leaving Iraq, Americans are still fighting a ferocious war in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, we have achieved our main objectives. We have destroyed al Qaeda training camps and brought to justice those responsible for 9/11. We have unfortunately adopted an additional nation-building strategy that faces enormous obstacles and consumes an enormous share of our military and economic resources. This mission is unwise and unachievable, and I urge our President to quickly end this conflict as well.

Categories: Iraq

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5 replies »

  1. My deep concerns for returning soldiers and their families is there care and jobs-viable, meaningful work. There is so much to do.

  2. A great start………….hope we are out of other people’s lands and fix our country…All tho we did not have bomb’s dropped on us , we have a broken infrastructure that has been neglected for way to long now. I am so glad out troops are coming home.

  3. US Embassy in Baghdad to double staff

    The US Embassy in Baghdad, already the largest in the world, is expected to double its staff after American forces pull out of the country later this year.

    A private security force some 5,500 strong will protect the large US diplomatic presence in Iraq

    11:54PM BST 01 Apr 2011

    “We’ll be doubling our size if all of our plans go through and if we receive the money from Congress in 2011 and then again in 2012,” James Jeffrey, the US ambassador in Iraq, said.

    He said the staff would increase “from 8,000 plus personnel that we have now to roughly double that by 2012,” adding that US forces would make up only a very small part of that number.

    “This will be an extraordinarily large embassy with many different functions. Some we took over from USFI (United States Forces in Iraq) and some of them continuation of the work we are doing now.”

    Mr Jeffrey said that US military advisers and trainers would stay or be added to support the Iraqi military with US-made equipment such as M1A1 tanks and other weaponry. He said the added personnel would not include combat troops.

    Fewer than 50,000 US troops are currently in Iraq, down from a peak of more than 170,000 and ahead of the planned full withdrawal in late 2011.

    For further information, follow the links. Read about the “not for profit”

    Private Security Company Association of Iraq – It’s a New World Order.

    FURTHERMORE, UAAV’s don’t require standing armies to enforce corporate US policy.

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