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My Redeployment Epiphany

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I used to think that we had an obligation to stay in Iraq for a while, to rebuild the country that we have destroyed over the past four years. As a human rights advocate, my primary concern is for the wellbeing of the innocent Iraqi civilians. Don't we owe them a rebuilt infrastructure, rebuilt homes, rebuilt schools, and rebuilt lives? You break it, you fix it. It's only fair.

But, with each passing day, I find myself thinking more and more that it's time to cut our losses - and the losses of the Iraqi people - and bring our troops home, along with all those corporate contractors who are getting rich off the blood of the war dead.

On May 1, 2003, George W. Bush stood in his Halloween costume and codpiece on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."


If that were true, then May 2, 2003, was the time to start rebuilding. Instead, we kept on destroying more and more of Iraq, and killing and maiming more and more innocent Iraqis, until they finally got fed up and started fighting back in a so-called insurgency.

Then, on June 20, 2005, Dick Cheney proclaimed, "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."


If that were true, then June 21, 2005, was the time to start rebuilding. Instead, our troops kept fighting just to stay alive, and to maintain some degree of order in the green zone. The rest of Iraq was by then a powder keg. If anything, it was any semblance of a burgeoning unified Iraqi democracy that was in its last throes.

And now Bush wants to keep on killing, so much so that he is going to send another 21,500 troops into that situation where we're not wanted. That's 21,500 more targets. 21,500 more lives in the balance.

Four years ago, Bush told us that we were going to Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people from the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein. And now the "insurgents" are fighting to liberate the Iraqi people from the repressive regime of George W. Bush.

We've done enough damage. Rebuilding is not on the table. The American people want us out of Iraq. The Iraqi people want us out of Iraq. The Iraqi government wants us out of Iraq. And we have no legitimate reason to stay.

Furthermore, we can leave Iraq without leaving a hopeless mess behind, if only we can do it right, and that means diplomacy.

To that end, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) seems to have the solution, in the form of H.R. 508, which will "require United States military disengagement from Iraq, [and] provide United States assistance for reconstruction and reconciliation in Iraq."

This bill would bring our troops home from Iraq within a six-month timeframe. During that timeframe, the bill would accelerate the training of a permanent Iraqi security force.

It would rescind the Congressional authorization for the war in Iraq.

Upon request from the Iraqi government, the bill would authorize U.S. support for an international stabilization force. Surely an international force, perhaps under the auspices of the United Nations, would do a better job of stabilizing Iraq than we could. The UN has its problems, but they're not the Bush White House.

Also worth mentioning, the bill would prohibit the construction of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. This could be the greatest step of all in the "war on terror". After all, it's the presence of U.S. military bases on Arab-Islamic land (not that they "hate our freedom") that was the primary motivator of Osama bin Laden's jihad against America.

And the bill would ensure that the U.S. has no long-term control over Iraqi oil. Sorry, Halliburton. Sorry, Exxon. Sorry, Chevron. The free lunch is over. Under this plan, Iraq (and its oil) would once again belong to the Iraqis.

And maybe then they could truly be liberated, maybe even by July 4th. What a fabulous coincidence it would be if that date could go down in history as an Independence Day for the Iraqis, too.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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