Despite the claims of the armchair strategists in the White House and its amen corner in the media, who suggest that calls for withdrawal represent a failure to "support the troops," the troops themselves are ready to come home.
Only 23 percent of the soldiers surveyed in January and February for the Zogby International/Le Moyne College poll echoed the administration line that the U.S. presence in Iraq should be maintained for "as long as needed."
According to the pollster's analysis, there is remarkably broad support among the troops for immediate withdrawal.
Around the country this spring, opponents of the war are promoting local resolutions and referendums -- particularly in Wisconsin, where more than two dozen measures will be on April 4 local election ballots in cities, villages and towns around the state -- that are intended to give citizens an opportunity to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Critics of these initiatives suggest that it is unpatriotic and anti-military to talk about bringing the troops home. They don't like the idea of letting citizens play a role in establishing foreign policy priorities.
But the best response of all might well be to say: If you really want to support the troops -- as opposed to the Bush-Cheney administration's warped policies -- why not listen to the troops? Indeed, why not let them vote in an advisory referendum of their own on whether they think the occupation of Iraq should continue?
Of course, the administration's apologists -- along with many more pragmatic players -- would respond to such a proposal with all the reasons why it is dangerous and unwise to treat the military as a democracy.
But if citizens are not supposed to advocate for withdrawal because doing so represents a failure to "support the troops," and if the troops who want to withdraw are not allowed to weigh in for all the practical reasons that might be cited, then what are we left with? No debate. No democracy. And no chance to set right what this administration and its neoconservative gurus have put wrong.
Ultimately, that's a fine scenario for George Bush and Dick Cheney, but its the wrong one for citizens at home and troops abroad. The right one is to recognize that, when citizens advocate, petition and vote for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq they are supporting the troops.