UPDATE: According to news reports, Bush is planning on giving a speech this
Wednesday (1/10) on his plan for the Iraq war, in which he will most
likely announce an increase in troops. This must be met with public
resistance all across the country the following day (Thursday). Check
back here for updates. CLICK HERE TO FIND A PROTEST NEAR YOU OR TO POST YOUR PROTEST LOCATION
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Calls to Action:
In Iraq, the suffering and destruction facing the people is only getting worse, with war crimes being carried out by a brutal occupying army, and violence between rival factions in Iraq claiming more lives each day.
It was only a month ago that millions of people went to the voting booths in large part motivated by their opposition to the war on Iraq. The next day Rumsfeld resigned. Hopes for ending the war soared – but the reality of what those in positions of power intend to do is now setting in. As an article in the New York Times said, “In the cacophony of competing plans about how to deal with Iraq, one reality now appears clear: despite the Democrats” victory this month in an election viewed as a referendum on the war, the idea of a rapid American troop withdrawal is fast receding as a viable option” (“Idea of Rapid Withdrawal From Iraq Seems to Fade”, NY Times, 12/1/06).
Now the U.S. military presence and stance in Iraq is reaching a juncture in which fundamental decisions will be reached by the political leaders of this country. The Bush administration’s strategy for Iraq has turned into a debacle, and is now under sharp criticism inside the government. Different positions are being debated out, from continuing the war until victory, to putting in more troops to stabilize Iraq, to some form of phased redeployment, troop reduction, or timetable for withdrawal in 2008, etc. But none of these positions argue for an immediate end to the war on Iraq – instead, they seek the best way to continue the global conquest Bush started five years ago, and do not condemn the war crimes being committed by the US government in the Middle East.
In this situation of intense debate inside the government, real divisions emerging, and no easy solution, what is all the more needed is massive opposition to this unjust war that demands it end now. Opposition so powerful that those currently debating how best to deal with the debacle they face in Iraq face a populace that refuses to let them continue carrying out war crimes in our names. Otherwise, no matter how many problems the Bush administration faces, nothing good for the people of the world will come out of this situation.
Must-read articles on the war:
Iraq: The War of the Imagination by Mark Danner
The Next Act by Seymour Hersh
The High Stakes in Iraq — For Them…And For Us by Larry Everest
The Bush regime intends to set the course of history in a way that will only bring about horrors and destruction for people here and around the world. On Nov. 28, Bush proclaimed, “There’s one thing I’m not going to do: I’m not going to pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete.” This crew in power fully intends to steamroll over the Middle East and not allow any challenges to its juggernaut. But they have run into serious problems which are spiraling more and more out of control. What we do in the face of this can make all the difference in whether they are able to pull it together and carry on, or whether this disastrous course is brought to a halt.
Worldcantwait.org will be featuring a number of articles which address this intense situation, as well as analysis from various sources. What this moment points to above all else is that we must act, in massive numbers, to end this war and drive out the criminal regime at the helm.
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What’s missing from the debate over the Iraq war?
Fallujah after an airstrike
A survivor of the Haditha massacre whose family was among the 24 people killed by US marines Nov. 19, 2005
While the Iraq Study Group’s report critiques the current war strategy in Iraq, and various politicians and commentators offer sometimes scathing criticisms of Bush’s handling of the war and call for a “new direction” of some sort, what is absent from the debate in the halls of power and on the mainstream media is the unjust nature of this war. The Bush regime has not “liberated” the people of Iraq – it has only brought about death, destruction, and suffering that increases by the day. The ambitions of the Bush regime are clearly in service of building up a global empire. The problem in Iraq is not a matter of mistakes in prosecuting the war, but the nature of the war itself.
Some basic facts illustrate the unjust nature of this war and why it must be stopped immediately:
A recent study published in The Lancet using widely accepted scientific research methods estimates that 655,000 Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of the war, with 90% of those deaths caused by violence.
- On the night of Nov. 13 in Ramadi, at least 35 people were killed by US military tanks firing on their homes. This is only the latest in several massacres of civilians carried out by the US military that have come to light, often after cover-ups. Other chilling examples include the murder of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha on by US marines on Nov. 19, 2005, the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl along with her whole family in Al-Mahmudiyah, and the murder of 11 Iraqis, including 5 children and a 75-year-old grandmother, in Ishaqi on March 15, 2006.
White phosphorous chemicals, which burn people’s skin upon contact, were used by the US military on Iraqi people. An international treaty restricts the use of white phosphorous, but the United States refuses to sign the treaty. American officials denied using the chemical until an Italian documentary aired pictures of civilians who were clearly killed by white phosphorous.
- US-led forces in Iraq have attacked population centers. There were two major offensives on the city of Fallujah in 2004, as well as on al-Qaim, Tal Afar, Samarra and Najaf. These attacks have resulted in many civilian casualties and massive destruction of the urban physical infrastructure, reportedly cutting off vital necessities including water and medical supplies. These siege tactics are prohibited under Article 14 of the Second Protocol of the Geneva Conventions.
The continued precense of the US military in Iraq has only continued to inflame tensions, sectarian violence, and civil war.
- The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on 2/9/06 that, “Virtually every measure of the performance of Iraq’s oil, electricity, water and sewerage sectors has fallen below pre-invasion levels”. The war and occupation has destroyed much of Iraq’s infrastructure, leaving the people to suffer through it.
The torture seen in the pictures of Abu Ghraib was not the isolated actions of a few soldiers, but policy ordered from the highest levels of government (including by Rumsfeld), and now legalized by the Military Commissions Act. While a handful of soldiers have been prosecuted and some cosmetic changes have been made, reports of torture continue to come from US military detention centers in Iraq.
These basic facts only begin to comprehend the horrendous suffering the Iraqi people have to endure under occupation. Why isn’t there a bi-partisan study group on that? Why hasn’t there been a condemnation of these war crimes on the floor of the Senate or House of Representatives?
But if we pull out, won’t it just be chaos?
The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has turned that country into a living hell for the people of Iraq. For the first half of 2006, an average of over 1,000 people a day died violent deaths (http://www.iraqbodycount.org/press/pr14.php). Research by prominent epidemiologists indicates that over 650,000 people have died since the U.S. invaded in March 2003 (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/12/145222). Hundreds of thousands of people have been maimed and injured. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports that over 3 million Iraqis have been forcibly “displaced” since the US invasion began (http://www.unhcr.org/partners/PARTNERS/4458c0f22.pdf).
One of the main arguments heard against getting the troops out of Iraq is that chaos and violence will escalate if the U.S. military leaves. In fact the violence in Iraq is now being driven by a complex and boiling mix of factors that the U.S. invasion unleashed, including anti-American insurgency, as well as sectarian violence. And there is a real possibility that an American military withdrawal from Iraq could be a catalyst for further upheaval and mayhem, in Iraq and throughout the region.
But a basic truth must be confronted. Nothing positive for the people – of Iraq, of the U.S., or anywhere in the region and the world – will come out of prolonging the U.S. occupation. The U.S. military was sent in overwhelming force to Iraq as an army of imperial conquest, and it occupies Iraq to subdue and suppress the people as an essential component of imposing a “stability” there that is conducive to sustaining and expanding that empire. All the killing, torture, and humiliation being inflicted on the people of Iraq by the American military are not “mistakes”, or “excesses”, they are an essential component of the mission Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld sent this army to Iraq to accomplish.
There is no way to make U.S. military occupation “palatable” or “acceptable”. Prolonging the presence of American military in Iraq, whether as combat troops, or as “trainers and advisors” means prolonging a situation in which the largest and most powerful armed force on earth occupies and seeks to impose its will on a country it unjustly invaded. The last 3 and a half years have provided a graphic and blood soaked picture of what that means.
The people who have been running this monstrous war have run into enormous difficulties. There is no easy way out for them. The endless carnage they have inflicted upon Iraq will stand as one of the great crimes of human history. Any “solution” which involves the continued presence of U.S. forces in Iraq is a deepening and extension of that crime.
Many people in this country who oppose the war feel a sense of responsibility for the horrors that the Bush Regime has inflicted on Iraq and its people. In fact, we do have a great responsibility to the people of Iraq and the entire world. Acting on that sense of responsibility means doing everything in our power to build a movement of massive political opposition aimed at driving out the Bush Regime, and ending the unjust, immoral, and illegal occupation of Iraq. The stakes for now and the future are very high, and the hour has gotten very late indeed. But it is not too late for powerful political opposition that transforms the political terrain in this country and affects the entire world. More than ever, The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!
The Iraq Study Group Report: The Pull of the Whirlpool
The Iraq Study Group (ISG) report confronts the debacle that the Bush Regime’s strategy for Iraq has become and advocates a series of measures aimed at salvaging the immediate situation and forging a plan to develop and deepen U.S. economic and military domination of the region. One of James Baker’s chief selling points for the ISG report is that it is “bipartisan”. As the report says right at its beginning, “Many Americans are dissatisfied, not just with the situation in Iraq, but with the state of our political debate regarding Iraq. Our political leaders must build a bipartisan approach to bring a responsible conclusion to what is now a lengthy and costly war”. Several other groups are soon to issue their proposals for Bush’s Iraq strategy, and Bush said recently he will decide shortly after New Year’s. But as Baker stressed, “this (the ISG report) is the only bipartisan advice the president will get”.
The following articles give some analysis of the ISG report from different perspectives.
Washington Refuses to End the War by Norman Solomon
It’s still about oil in Iraq by Antonia Juhasz, LA Times
Can’t Stay the Course, Can’t End the War, But We’ll Call it Bipartisan by Phyllis Bennis and Erik Leaver
The ISG consisted of a carefully selected group of guardians and overseers of empire, and they are giving a severe warning to Bush. They are forcefully telling Bush and Co. that the path they”ve embarked on is endangering their entire enterprise. A recent article in the New Yorker argued that without a change in the direction of the U.S. war in Iraq, “permanent damage to American interests” will result.
The major thrust of the ISG report is quite clear. One of its central tenets is a call to redeploy and reconfigure U.S. forces in Iraq. If the proposals the ISG report argues for are successful, a gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces would begin sometime in 2008, while the U.S. military presence in Iraq and the region would remain.
In short, the war will continue. U.S. military presence will remain, and possibly increase. The death toll of Iraqis since the American invasion – already in the hundreds of thousands and climbing – will grow. American military posture and political relations will be repositioned in a way calculated to strengthen the drive for empire.
The Pull of the Whirlpool
Millions of people voted for Democrats in November because they wanted to see an end to the wars launched by the Bush Regime, and they thought the Democrats would stand up for this. Now, the talk from the political punditry is about whether to send more troops, how to redeploy the troops; about extending the American combat presence in Iraq until at least 2008 and the military presence well beyond that, about whether military force or political/economic pressure or a combination of the two will be best to subdue the threats the political leadership perceives in Iran and Syria.
The debate is raging around the ISG report and about the larger question of how the U.S. should proceed in the context of the chaos and debacle the Bush plan has unleashed in the Middle East, and the potential for it to spin even more wildly out of control of the masters of empire in Iraq, in the Middle East, and yes, even in this country. As the New York Times editorialized, “the nation is in crisis”.
The much vaunted “bipartisanship” of the ISG report is aimed in part at overcoming what it calls the “political polarization” in this country. It aims to do this by getting everyone in the country – including the millions of people who oppose this unjust, brutal, and seemingly endless war – to get behind this program. And Democratic Party leaders are being drawn to supporting the ISG report like iron filings to a magnet. Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid said “The Iraq Study Group has done a tremendous and historic service to the American people”. Hillary Clinton said that “The American people have spoken. The Iraq Study Group has spoken. Experts across the political spectrum have spoken. Even the President’s nominee for Defense Secretary has spoken. Now it’s time for the President to listen and change the course in Iraq.”
“Changing the course in Iraq” is not what the people – of Iraq, of the world, or of this country – need. What the people need is for this unjust and illegitimate war to end, now. The “bipartisanship” being promoted in Washington and elsewhere these days is aimed at uniting the political leadership of the country behind revamped plans for war and conquest and domination, and quelling simmering anger and outrage among the people. Acquiescing to the “reasonable” proposals emanating from the ISG and echoed by the likes of Reid and Clinton means getting pulled into a whirlpool of submission to these plans. The consequences of such submission would be disastrous.
The problems James Baker, Lee Hamilton, and the rest of the ISG are trying to resolve are not the problems confronting the people. The problem confronting the people concerns building a massive political movement aimed at ending this war and driving out the Bush Regime, and in the course of that transforming the political climate and the terms of political debate in this country. Far from overcoming “polarization”, we need more of it – a polarization that includes people from many different backgrounds and all corners of this country that stands determined in our opposition to the wars for empire and all the plans for continuing them.