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The Soldiers Speak Out | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

The Soldiers Speak Out

"As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for US troops to come home."

This statement – the Appeal for Redress – has been signed by over 600 active-duty soldiers who have had enough of seeing their brothers and sisters sacrificed to the disastrous war in Iraq. In this month alone, 101 American soldiers have been killed, more than in any month since January, 2005 and the fourth highest monthly total since the war began in March, 2003.

Seaman Jonathon Hutto and Marine Sergeant Liam Madden spearheaded the Appeal which is co-sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out. It is the latest effort stemming from the antiwar energy that has emerged among military families, veterans, and active military, including generals and other high-ranking officers. It's also the first antiwar movement organized by active military personnel since the Vietnam War.

Hutto, who served off the Iraq coast from September 2005 until March, told the Washington Post, "I hear discussions every day among my shipmates about the war in Iraq and how it doesn't make any sense at this point. There is no victory in sight."

Madden served in Anbar province from September 2004 until February 2005. "I don't think any more Iraqis or Americans should die because of the US occupation," he told ABC News. "If people want to support the troops, then they should support us coming home." Madden cited his disillusionment with a war based on non-existent weapons of mass destruction and phantom links between al Qaeda and Iraq.

One soldier, speaking under condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said, "I don't think that the American public realizes just how many soldiers and service members in general really do have reservations about what is going on over there….It's very hard. These soldiers seeing all this tribal fighting, ethnic fighting going on around them.…There is not really anything you can do to stop this."

Another soldier said he believed the Appeal would have "a snowball effect" and more and more people would sign on. "Once they start seeing momentum going forward and more and more service members coming out, they will be much more inclined to come out as well."

The names and comments of those signing onto the initiative are not made public. The Military Whistleblower Protection Act allows for "a protected communication" with Congress – but only while off-duty and out of uniform. The Appeal will be delivered to Congress on Martin Luther King Day, 2007.

These brave men and women, who put their lives on the line for our nation every day, must be heard.

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