To: Democratic Representatives and Senators
From: Mandate for Peace campaign
Date: December 4, 2006
Re: Need for Democrats to Carry Out the Voters' Mandate for Peace, End the War, and Bring the Troops Home Now
Dear Democratic Representatives and Senators,
You are about to head into a week that will include a Democratic forum on December 5th to discuss the future of Iraq, and the release of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. This memo is to remind you that regardless of what Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Holbrooke, John Batiste, James Baker and Lee Hamilton recommend the US do in Iraq, nothing less than an end to the Iraq war and prompt withdrawal of all the US troops will satisfy the Mandate for Peace that was issued by the voters in the mid-term elections.
We elected you not the Iraq Study Group - to end the war in Iraq, and we expect you to take all measures necessary to do so. If the new Democratically controlled Congress does not end the US military engagement with Iraq, this tragic war will become your responsibility as well as the Bush Administration's.
Below are a few of the compelling reasons why the majority of Americans want the US troops to come home NOW. We urge you to keep these uppermost in your minds this week and throughout the new session of Congress.
Why Immediate Withdrawal
For three and a half years, Americans have been told that staying in Iraq would improve conditions there. For three and a half years things have gotten worse. We have been in Iraq longer than the time the U.S. took part in World War II. Those who claim that staying will accomplish something are making a claim that has been made before and has been proven wrong. They should be asked why it was wrong before but will be right this time.
The majority of Americans oppose the war, believe it has made them less safe, and want complete or partial withdrawal immediately. A majority of U.S.troops in Iraq say they do not know what purpose the war is serving and want it to end. Those who support continuing the war should be asked how they justify ignoring the will of the American public. They should be asked how they justify opposing the will of the service men and women who signed up to defend this country.
The U.S. military has suffered 49,369 casualties, including 24,237 from hostile causes, of which 21,921 are wounded and 2,316 killed in action. Another 567 troops have died from "non-hostile" causes, and 147 U.S. contractors have been killed. There are now over 9500 deserters and resisters. Those who support more killing and dying should be asked how they will justify their position to military families.
The vast majority of Iraqis want the US troops to leave Iraq. According to a World Public Opinion Poll conducted in January 2006, 87% of Iraqis say they want a timetable for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq. A recent poll by the US State Department found that nearly three-quarters of Baghdad residents said they would feel safer if US and other foreign troops left Iraq. Sixty-five percent of those polled favored an immediate withdrawal of troops. Another poll, by the Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask for the US troops to withdraw within a year. It also found that almost four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military presence in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents. Those who claim the U.S. must stay in Iraq to protect the Iraqis should be asked to explain why Iraqis say the US troops presence makes them less safe.
A Johns Hopkins/Lancet study estimates that 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of this war. The majority of those deaths did not come during "Shock and Awe." Rather, the death rate is increasing each year under the ongoing U.S. occupation. Out-of-control violence that claims more than 100 lives per day, the lack of basic infrastructure, woefully inadequate access to healthcare, and chronic high unemployment all contribute to Iraq's excessively high death rate. The U.S. military presence in Iraq is also encouraging civil war. The occupation is building the strength of fundamentalist leaders. It is increasingly turning Iraq into a training ground for terrorism, where terrorists train by attacking Americans. In each of these areas, we have seen a steady worsening but no improvement during this lengthy occupation. Those who say that things will get worse for Iraqis when the US troops leave should be reminded that Iraqis are already facing a civil war and constant chaos and violence.
The war was wrong from the start. It was sold to Congress on the basis of fraud and was launched in violation of international and U.S. laws against aggressive wars. The war was begun by the misappropriation of funds prior to approval by Congress. And what Congress approved was dependent on WMD threats and ties to 9-11 that did not exist. Congress also did not approve an endless occupation involving the construction of permanent bases. It is never too early to begin to undo the damage, both to Iraq and to the rule of law. Those who support continuing the occupation should be asked what precedents that sets for international law.
There are steps the United States can take to make peace, and maybe even democracy, more likely in Iraq: funding a reconstruction of Iraq by Iraqis, facilitating negotiations among all parties, bringing in the international community. But none of these steps will work unless preceded by a credible commitment to quickly and fully depart, leaving Iraq and Iraq's oil to the Iraqis. Negotiations will not work while we are building permanent bases and occupying the land indefinitely. The international community will not help resolve the disaster we have created against their advice, unless we apologize and announce a new course, one that foreswears the use of aggressive war.
Congress can and must take this first critical step on which all else depends. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse. By cutting off the funding for the war, though not for the safe withdrawal of troops and the reconstruction of the country, and only by doing this, Congress can help to set things right again. Seventy-four percent of Americans believe President Bush has no plan for Iraq. Sixty-five percent say the same of Democratic leaders in Congress. The way to a clear plan lies not in the middle of the road or an attempt to please everyone within the Beltway. The way to a clear plan is clear: listen to the voters' recent mandate for peace, and end the US occupation by cutting off the money. At the same time, announce the useful projects you will fund with the monies saved.