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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/20/09

Best Way Forward In Iraq

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Message Ron Fullwood
"I've asked our military leaders in the Pentagon and those on the ground in Iraq to provide their recommendations on the best way forward" -- Bush, radio address December 2, 2006 Bush is doing his best to weasel past the judgment of the American people in the last election in his scramble to yoke our troops occupying Iraq to the "stay the course" strategy he negotiated with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in Jordan. Overwhelmingly, the American people voted to remove Bush's republican enablers in Congress who refused to challenge the course of the Iraq occupation. Those senators and representatives who promised to stand in the way of efforts to end the deployment and bring our troops home were replaced with a new Democratic majority who promised to stand up to the White House and the Pentagon and demand a new direction in Iraq. Yet, Bush is intent on moving "forward" with our nation's military involvement in Iraq. The message from the voters couldn't have been more clear: The American people want our troops out of Iraq. They don't accept the linkage Bush makes between his manufactured "war on terror" and Iraq. It doesn't take a great deal of thought for Americans to fathom the difference between our troops fighting and dying in Afghanistan in pursuit of bin-Laden and his accomplices, and Bush's sacrificing of our soldiers' lives and livelihoods in Iraq defending the failing Maliki regime. Bush retreated from Afghanistan - cut-and-ran from the pursuit of the individuals he once held responsible for the most horrendous attack on our nation since Pearl Harbor - to "draw a line in the sand" in Iraq. Five years after those attacks, after swearing he would apprehend bin-Laden "dead or alive," Bush is still unwilling to accept that the "center" of the fight against the "terror" which struck our nation on 9-11 is wherever bin-Laden and his associates have found "safe haven," not hundreds of miles away in an entirely different nation in Iraq; the majority of whose citizens (including Hussein's regime) never had any affinity for al-Qaeda, and never will. The entire effort by Bush and his surrogates within the administration, and among the members of both the Baker and the Pentagon Iraq commissions, falls far short of anything that would have sufficed for a decisive response to the terrorists in the wake of the September 11 attacks. There is not going to be any abatement of any risk to our nation which may have existed from the suspected masterminds of the 9-11 plane crashes by any manipulation in Iraq of the form or function of the new puppet regime. Nothing in Iraq even remotely threatens the United States of America outside of the country's own borders. The "safe haven" afforded bin_Laden and Co. in Afghanistan/Pakistan by Bush's Iraq obsession is painfully evident to everyone, to the tune of some 20,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan to over 155,000 U.S. troops in Iraq; supported by a staggering $8 billion a month in Iraq alone. "I recognize that the recent violence in Iraq has been unsettling," Bush attempted in his radio address. "Many people in our country are wondering about the way forward . . . Success in Iraq will require leaders in Washington -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- to come together and find greater consensus on the best path forward," he said. The reckoning the American people expected Bush to achieve against the planners and perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks was an effort sacrificed and abandoned long ago to the immediate and ephemeral fear and smear campaigns his republican party relied and depended on to cow the scared public and hold onto power. Iraq has been a cynical stage for Bush's petty role as our impotent commander-in chief. It is this president who allowed the historical attack on our nation through his own inattentiveness and negligence, and who deepened the risks to our national security by turning his back on the terrorists and "fomenting" a civil war in Iraq with his clumsy invasion and arrogant occupation. "Success" in Iraq will not come with a deeper occupation or escalation of forces, as has been discussed within the Pentagon Iraq commission. Staying the course in Iraq would only deepen the animosity which separates the warring Iraqis from their kept government. Bush needs to take heed of the wishes of the American people and take a giant step back from the middle of the Iraqi's struggle for self-determination and begin to pull or troops back, out of harm's way. That's the "best way forward." Bin-Laden and his associates will be encouraged that Bush is still intent on continuing to divert the bulk of our defenses and resources from capturing the terrorists in Afghanistan to continue his occupation in Iraq. Bush's own intelligence agencies admit that the Iraq occupation has increased the numbers of those individuals who would threaten our security or interests, not lessened those threats as he has claimed repeatedly. The Iraq occupation has become a recruiting tool for combatant organizations. Bush is creating terrorists 'over there' with no plan at all for the consequences of retaliation for the collateral death and destruction of our forces' heavy-hand. I can't imagine why these administration-encouraged commissions have taken all these months just to come up with a different way for America to continue to travel the path Bush has taken us down in Iraq. We're on the wrong road. None the destinations to our nations safety and security can be reached through Iraq. That's what these commissions should have been studying: how to get out of Iraq and back on the course that Congress set when they authorized the pursuit and capture of those individuals our government says are responsible for the 9-11 attacks. None of our nation's security interests lie in Iraq outside of the safety and security of the soldiers Bush insists on leaving there. The chaos Bush fostered and let fester in Iraq is far more pernicious than a subdued Saddam. Tortures and detentions under the U.S. sponsored Maliki regime rival the former dictatorship. The targeting and killing of resisting Iraqis by American and Iraqi forces is no different than the old death squads which terrorized the population under Saddam. At least the people in Iraq could walk the street under the former dictator; go to school; go shopping; play on a playground without fear for their lives. The results of Bush's three-year occupation have been so bad that I can't imagine any Iraqi wishing America "forward" there. Here in America, the voters who rejected Bush's enablers in Congress last month have urged Bush to pull back from his Iraq folly. Yet, all of the damn fools sitting pretty in Washington who imagine themselves to be in charge, just keep telling our soldiers to push on. I don't know about the rest of the voters, but I'm ready to pull even more of these folks down that we elected who continue to ignore our certain demands for an exit from Iraq. It was Bush who was bold enough to step forward and declare that we'd be in Iraq for "as long as he's president." We should take him up on that challenge.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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