Exiting Iraq Now

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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 7, 2005

President’s Radio Address

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Three weeks ago, the Iraqi people demonstrated their remarkable courage and resilience. They voted on and passed the new Iraqi constitution, an event unthinkable a short three years ago. Elections will soon be held in December. While extremists are still attempting to derail the progress of individual rights and democracy in Iraq, the Iraqis have chosen freedom and democracy. On behalf of the American people, I congratulate them on the ongoing political process.

In a short time, Iraqis will freely form their own government. That event signals a new chapter in Iraqi responsibility over their own destinies. Iraqis began writing their new history from the moment that Saddam Hussein’s iron grip was broken. They risked their lives to become police officers. They risked their lives in the new Iraqi security forces. They have fought along side our own troops. They have faced brutal killers whose radical ideology leaves no room for political and religious freedom, who hope to turn Iraq into a totalitarian state.

They will not succeed. While 10 million Iraqis were turning out to vote, in an election run entirely by them, the Iraqi security forces oversaw a peaceful election process. The Iraqi security forces now number in the hundreds of thousands. Their determination to keep their country free matches the determination of those 10 million who voted and others who did not. Iraqi security forces must now continue the struggle for the liberty of the Iraqi people. I am confident that they can and will do so.

I am proud of the legacy of freedom that our military has achieved. The sacrifice has been great. I grieve with all those families that have suffered loss. The heartbreak and burden that they have endured now allow an Iraqi nation to determine its own future. This is a victory that we all can be proud of.

An important part of our mission is now completed. I announce today an end to the military participation of American combat troops in Iraq. Prime Minister Blair will make a similar announcement concerning British forces. We now look forward to a redeployment of all American forces out of Iraq.

As I have stated before, I will not set a timetable for this withdrawal. However, I intend for it to be rapid.

The future of the Iraqi nation belongs in the hands of the Iraqi people. They face difficult problems. To secure the blessings of liberty, to attain effective reconstruction, to subdue the destructive acts of terrorists, will take hard work and cooperation. Americans will surely help a newly elected government meet the needs of the Iraqi people. Neighboring nations can also help. Now is the time to bury old enmities and rivalries. Now is the time for every country in the region to move forward to shape a brighter future of peace for yourselves, your children and grandchildren.

Thank you for listening.

END

This is a speech we will not soon hear. While members of Congress talk about timetables, Bush resists. As for troop reductions, the White House says there will be a "rolling target" based on "conditions." The conditions are that Iraqi forces take over security.

Eventually, when the administration can reap political benefit or the troops are needed elsewhere, reductions will occur. A substantial contingent of troops could remain for a long time according to Secretary Rice.

Americans and Iraqis, many civilian, will continue to lose their lives and be injured indefinitely. The enormous war costs will go on.

The longer American troops stay in Iraq, the higher becomes the risk of debacle — open and widespread civil war stimulated by the presence of an American occupying force and American interference in Iraq’s domestic affairs.

Now is a good time to exit. Now. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to stop awarding terrorists worldwide with a powerful recruiting tool, the continued American presence on Iraqi soil. Now is the time to end the needless death and destruction. William Lind is right. With voting on the constitution ended and elections scheduled soon, now is the time to exit.

The clocks of further Mid-East wars are clicking and should be stopped. On May 6, 2004, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution authorizing war with Iran. Bush has consistently pursued confrontation with Iran before and after that date. Withdrawing from Iraq is only one step in winding down the entire U.S. policy of controlling the Middle East.

Bush and the neoconservatives want regime change in Syria and Iran, through war if need be. This is still official U.S. policy despite Iraq. Bush raised the chance of war by invading Iraq, a neighbor of Iran. If Israel attacks Iran, Iran will consider it an attack by the U.S. The U.S. is already on one border of Iran in Afghanistan and wants to control another border in Syria. Getting out of Iraq is all the more important in order to take apart this second Frankenstein that Bush created and the House okayed.

The longer that Americans stay in Iraq, the greater the chance of a severe Iraqi civil war. Iraq at present has a low or moderate-level civil war, and that’s bad enough. Michael Schwartz argues persuasively that American troops in Iraq enhance the chance of severe civil war because foreign (American) troops provide a focal point for terrorists or other elements that wish to turn Sunni against Shia. He argues that withdrawal leaves Zarqawi without a way to divide Sunni from Shia. He is correct.

Many Americans think we should stay in Iraq and see the job through. This is Bush’s line. What this means is that Americans should remain indefinitely in Iraq in order to create a stable, secure, and pliant government that is friendly to the U.S.

Yes, it would be nice if Iraq were peace-loving, moderate, against terror, and a nation friendly to America. But if Iraqis are free, why can’t they create their own future? They may wish to be neutral. They may wish to choose a religiously-based government. They may wish to fight things out. They may wish to negotiate, or fight and negotiate. What if the new rulers conceive that Iraqi interests run counter to those of the U.S.? What if the country decides to divide itself into several pieces? What if Iraqis want to control their own oil?

Seeing the job through does not mean Iraqi freedom. It means the U.S. must remain in Iraq indefinitely until our rulers get what they want. That is their real aim. If the preferences of our rulers conflict with those of Iraq’s rulers chosen by the much-vaunted process of Iraqi self-determination and freedom, then Iraqi freedom must take a back seat to the demands of American Empire.

Bush can easily foster Iraqi freedom, by removing an obstacle to it that is directly under our control, by getting Americans out of Iraq. That means exiting Iraq now.

If the Iraqis have conflicts to settle, they should be free to settle them themselves. We Americans do not know what the various factions want or how strongly they want it. These are things we cannot know. Only the unimpeded actions of the rival sides can reveal what they value and how much they value it.

If we Americans try to resolve Iraqi conflicts, we will invariably impose our own wishes and interests on the various factions. This is not freedom for Iraqis. Furthermore, the chances of blundering diplomacy and mishandled force approach 100%, since they are both controlled by the same crew of neoconservatives that has written, produced and directed episode one of this tragedy.

The President wants to "complete the mission." He wants to ensure "The success of the new Iraqi government." He says that "Ensuring that success will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve, and it will involve more risk for Iraqis and American and coalition forces." This government, we are told, has to be of a particular kind: "This government will be our ally in the war on terror, a partner in the struggle for peace and moderation in the Muslim world…"

Bush fears the wrong (from his perspective) government coming to power, now and in the future. He fears a government that might turn radical or ally itself with Iran, a government that might be anti-Israel or anti-American, a government that might be run by terrorists, or one run by religious fundamentalists. He even fears a government that might not last. He wants to make sure that these and like events do not happen.

Bush wants a puppet government that is friendly to American geopolitical interests. He has no confidence that the Iraqi people at this moment will use their freedom to produce a political outcome that reliably favors American interests. He wants control. This is what his words really mean, when he speaks of "ally" and "partner and "ensuring that success." This is the language of self-interest of the ruler of the American Empire. This is not the language of a disinterested Good Samaritan interested in freedom and democracy.

Bush wants to be sure Iraq is friendly. But that can’t be done without influencing the formation of the government and/or its force structure. That is a recipe for controlling Iraq, not freeing it. That is a recipe for inciting continued resistance to American occupation, continued bombings and deaths. To Bush, safe and sound on his ranch, this is a cheap price to pay for a controllable regime that opens the door to broader control of the entire Middle East.

Bush wants to be sure that the government succeeds. This means two things. It means that there is no risk of a termination of the government outside the constitution, at least for a few years, so that the U.S. has a puppet to dangle. It means that there is no risk of civil war if the U.S. reduces its military presence and substitutes a locally trained proxy force. Gurkhas would be ideal.

None of these goals are legitimate and none should be attempted. Iraq is for the Iraqis, not for the Americans.

Often an overpowering force, an Empire, has been able to impose peace and rule a divided land. Is this what Americans want their country to attempt in Iraq and then in Syria and Iran under the propaganda doctrines of ending tyranny, spreading democracy, fighting terror, or increasing American security? We have engaged in brutal conquest under false pretexts. We are Romans sending our legions to conquer and rule in the name of pax Americana.

We are an Empire whose rulers possess unbounded ambitions. They want domination of the Middle East, not because of self-defense or freedom but for control. If they are successful, they will attempt conquests elsewhere. Warring will not end with Iraq or even the Middle East.

We abandon our goodness, our humanity, our souls and our noble aspirations if we listen to and support such evil. Our rulers will destroy our spirit. We cannot conquer and murder other peoples thousands of miles away without killing ourselves. We the people become murderers. We will discover too late that Empire is not a free lunch, that it is paid for in blood and brutality, guilt, rancor and division, in loss of freedom, loss of well-being, loss of morality, loss of ethics, loss of cultural values, loss of principles and virtues, loss of society, loss of justice, loss of peace, and loss of God.

America went into this war dishonorably and under false pretenses. Ending our engagement quickly is a step that wipes away at least some of the disgrace associated with our actions. The President claims that "The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and win the war on terror."

The best way to keep faith with those who have fallen is to let no more fall. If they fell to end Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, that mission was accomplished hundreds and thousands of deaths ago. If they fell to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, that mission ended years ago. If they fell so that Iraqis might have a new constitution, that mission is accomplished. None of these missions were or are proper, just, prudent, or constitutional for American soldiers, but, in any event, they are over with.

The largest question of all is that of the ethical justice of this and any such war. Shall our soldiers continue to keep falling until the "war on terror" is won? No, they shall not. Terrorists should be hunted down for specific crimes of terror. Our rulers should not send our soldiers into broad wars of destruction over entire countries in the false name of fighting terror. Our soldiers should not be sent into undeclared wars or wars based on loose, exaggerated and hyperbolic readings of United Nations resolutions. Our soldiers should not be sent into wars based on lies, innuendoes, phony intelligence reports, and propaganda campaigns. Our soldiers should not be sent into wars to free other peoples or establish democracies. Our soldiers should not be sent into preventive, preemptive, deterrent, or any other kinds of wars except those clearly in direct defense of our people. Our soldiers should not be sent into wars of expansion, wars of Empire, or wars for gain.

Our soldiers should never have been sent into Iraq. That is reason enough to bring them home now.

Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is the Louis M. Jacobs Professor of Finance at University at Buffalo.

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