Left Justified: Reasons to get out of Iraq now!

(With thanks and a tip of the hat to Erik Leaver of the Nation magazine)

In 2004, journalist Eric Leaver came out with the top 10 reasons why the USA should get out of Iraq (The Nation, Oct 11, 2004):

1) Human costs keep increasing

2) Iraqis aren’t better off

3) It’s bankrupting America

4) Halliburton’s war profiteering

5) The “coalition” is fleeing

6) Al-qaeda is growing

7) Draining first responders from our communities

8) Our troops torture

9) More Americans oppose the war

10) “Sovereignty” has been transferred to Iraq

Guess what? Those reasons are still applicable today, three years later. Mr. Leaver wrote in 2004: “While the removal of the dictator Saddam was a welcome development for many Iraqis, the streets of Baghdad and other cities remain dangerous war zones. Clean water, electricity and even gasoline in this oil-rich country are all in shorter supply than during the dark years of economic sanctions.” Has anything changed? Well, yes: there’s a goshdarn civil war raging! The situation is worse, and many Iraqis are fondly remembering Saddam!

And our own beloved country is going up s— creek without a paddle. Leaver wrote three years ago: “The national guard’s deployment puts a heavy burden on their home communities. Many serve as ‘first responders,’ including police, firefighters and emergency medical.” This was written before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and long before tornadoes visited Kansas.

I thought Congress would put an end to this mess, but our own congressman has gotten even more enamored with “staying the course” by “supporting the surge.” We may even be eying some sort of military action against Iran, the oil-rich country just east of Iraq. After all, with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve got Iran surrounded.

Showdowns between Congress and the President over war funding aren’t unique. In 1970, well into the Vietnam War, Sen. Mark Hatfield, a Republican, and Democrat Sen. George McGovern introduced legislation to cut off funding for U.S. combat operations in Vietnam. But Nixon invaded Cambodia (his “surge”), and widespread anti-war demonstrations followed throughout the country. The McGovern-Hatfield legislation was an attempt to reverse Nixon’s Vietnam policies. Five years later, Congress finally told then-President Gerald Ford to put down the gun and walk away.

You know, there are still Americans who say we could have won in Vietnam, and I wonder how many would volunteer to re-invade Southeast Asia?

And finally, our hero writes, “The U.S. government’s Iraq reconstruction cost both Iraqis and Americans. Instead of boosting Iraqi self-determination by giving contracts to Iraqi businesses and lowering unemployment, Bush favors U.S. firms with political connections. Billions of dollars of contracts have been awarded with limited or no competition, causing fraud, waste, incompetence, and no money. The most egregious problems are attributed to Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s former firm and the largest recipient of Iraq-related contracts.” A local example is the Rockford-area printing firm that received an order for Iraqi “Get Out the Vote” posters.

My friends, we are witnessing the biggest heist of public funds since Tea Pot Dome. Already, some perpetrators (and real traitors) have left for foreign countries like Dubai so as not to be easily indicted.

And our congressman, a “friend” to Henry Waxman, the Democrat who promises to find the graft, won’t even give him permission to ask questions.

Without more public outcry, we are looking at a long war, more deaths, and waste of our national resources.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

from May 23-29, 2007, issue

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