With the official case for war long since discredited, the human and economic costs mounting and evidence growing that the Bush Administration’s “stay the course” policy may keep us there indefinitely, it has never been clearer that the war in Iraq is a moral and functional failure. Human decency, fiscal sanity and national security demand that we move quickly to bring our soldiers home.
The insurgency will never be quelled as long as American troops are in Iraq. It’s the occupation that gave rise to the insurgency in the first place. Every day that US boots are on Iraqi soil, militant anti-Americanism intensifies and more insurgents are created. As one American officer in Iraq bluntly put it: “We can’t kill them all. When I kill one, I create three.”
A radical shift in Iraq policy is long overdue. Sixty-one members of the House have signed a letter to the President offering concrete steps toward peace:
§ withdraw US forces from Iraq;
§ establish, through the United Nations and NATO, a multinational interim security force to keep Iraq secure and stable;
§ recast the US role in Iraq as reconstruction partner, not military occupier, stepping up efforts to rebuild economic infrastructure and renouncing plans to control Iraqi oil and create permanent military bases;
§ help establish an international peace commission, with global conflict-resolution experts overseeing postwar reconciliation and peace talks among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
The President has hinted at troop reductions in the coming year, but we fear that any drawdown will be a cosmetic, cynically timed effort to minimize Republican losses in the 2006 elections. Bush warns, self-servingly, against “irresponsible debate” on Iraq. He is well aware that November’s midterm elections offer progressives an opportunity to seize the initiative and define the withdrawal debate. Let’s make the most of that historic opportunity. Let’s remind voters that this war is not an isolated mistake but rather the central component of a flawed and destructive foreign policy. Let’s insist that candidates–even if they claim to support troop reductions–say whether they support permanent military bases in Iraq. With the majority of Americans now seeing Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive war through the lens of its failure in Iraq, we can finally put to rest the myth that Republicans are “strong on defense”–and redefine the debate on security.