No matter where you look, finding a way to end this illegal occupation of Iraq is on people’s minds. Hell, this is one of the main reasons why the Democrats retook both houses of Congress back in November. I’ll also point out that since then, the negative view of Bush and what is going on in Iraq has solidified from a majority or mandate to what can certainly be deemed as an overwhelming majority.
And with all of that, we are finally hearing some more emboldened talk from our Democratic Congress as they start to find their voice, and start to understand that the public isn’t buying statements like this one from new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. And even republican Senators are coming to their senses about the whole “opposing escalation is emboldening the enemy” line of crap.
So I am now pleading to Congress, republicans and Democrats alike – the talk is great, but the entire country (and world for that matter) is watching, waiting, hoping for some serious action. We are all behind you. Take the next steps.
To take a page from Nike if you will - Just Do It.
Less than two weeks after President Bush unveiled his plan to increase troop levels in Iraq, a 68-percent majority of Americans strongly (45 percent) or moderately (23 percent) oppose Bush's "surge" strategy
Not only that, but only 24% of Americans polled approve of how Bush is handling Iraq, and only 30% approve of his performance in general. These are strong trends – not aberrations, and will only continue to get stronger.
There is a historic opportunity to take steps in order to move away from continued chaos and destruction – for Iraqis, for our troops, for the Middle East as a whole. The Iraqi government is REACHING OUT TO DEMOCRATS in order to make progress. Per today’s LA Times:
Government officials said they had generally found the Democratic position on handing over security to Iraqi forces sooner rather than later closer to theirs. Almost all agree on Democratic Party initiatives, squashed when Republicans controlled Congress, to prevent the building of permanent U.S. bases here. They note news reports of Democrats acknowledging the suffering of the Iraqi population.
"I see that the Democratic ideas are more related to reality," said Ammar Tuma, a lawmaker who serves in Maliki's ruling Shiite coalition. "They talk about the real problems that the Iraqis are facing every day."
Don’t be afraid of what Sean Hannity says. Don’t listen to what the other talking meatsticks say. Forget about Tony Snow’s hysterical lies and ranting. They are signs of desperation as their ability to con the American public is waning fast.
Even triangulating Presidential hopefuls are starting to sing a different tune. This is for you, Senator Clinton – you are finally admitting regret at your initial vote to authorize this invasion and occupation:
Clinton said, as she has since last month, that she would not have voted for the resolution had she known that the Bush administration’s justifications for the war would be proven to be unfounded.
“I’ve taken responsibility for my vote. But there are no do-overs in life. I wish there were,” she told the group.
Ahhhhhh, but while there are no “do-overs in life” and there are no do-overs in war, there are ways to make amends. We know that Bush and Cheney have all but dared Congress to stop him from escalating this occupation – a move against the wishes of the Iraq Study Group, his own Joint Chiefs of Staff, many members of Congress, the American people, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people. There is no reason to think that talking about an exit strategy and taking strong action towards putting an end to this occupation will not be met with overwhelming support.
Hell, we just saw close to 100,000 people take to the streets of DC with more demonstrations around the country. Even active military members and Iraq veterans were marching in protest:
Tassi McKee, from Bastrop, La., who said she was a staff sergeant in the Air Force, was among a small contingent of about 20 active-duty service members who turned out. “I believe this has become a civil war, and we are being hurt and making matters worse by staying in the middle of it,” Sergeant McKee said.
Dressed in the olive green, military-issued flight jacket that he said he wore during the invasion of Iraq while serving as a Marine sergeant, Jack Teller, 26, said he joined a caravan from Greenville, N.C., because he felt that it was his duty.
“I don’t like wearing the jacket because it reminds me that I participated in an immoral and illegal war,” said Mr. Teller, who had “Iraq Veterans Against the War” stenciled on the back of his jacket. “But it’s important to make a political statement.”
Fernando Braga, a 24-year-old Bronx native who is a member of the Army National Guard, said that he was skeptical of the war before it started. Mr. Braga said his views hardened into opposition while he served in Iraq from March 2004 through January 2005.
“My own commander told us when we arrived that if we thought we were there for any reason other than oil then we had another think coming,” he said. “I realized even commanding officers were against it but following orders.”
As were military personnel’s spouses:
"My husband deployed last June to Iraq," she said. "He is an Army infantry officer currently patrolling the streets of Baghdad. And I just have to say I'm sick of attending the funerals of my friends. I have seen the weeping majors. I have seen the weeping colonels. I am sick of the death."
“I am sick of the death”. “Even commanding officers were against it”. “We are making matters worse”. Very strong words from people who are most directly impacted.
There is an opportunity before Congress to do the right thing. A very brave Senator (and one who was right all along, I may add) is introducing legislation that will directly lead to putting this occupation to an end:
Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, says today he will soon introduce legislation to cut off funding for the war. He was speaking at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington.
Feingold blasted his colleagues for not doing enough to stand up to the White House.
Last year, Rep. Murtha introduced legislation to redeploy forces from Iraq. And more recently, Rep. Woolsey introduced legislation that would refocus on an exit strategy from Iraq. Just a few days ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki met with House Speaker Pelosi with respect to withdrawing 50,000 troops by year end:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), visiting Baghdad on Friday in her new capacity as House speaker, that he would like to see 50,000 U.S. troops leave by the end of the year, Iraqi officials said.
Pelosi's primary concern in meeting Maliki appeared to be to determine how soon he thought the United States could withdraw its soldiers from Iraq, said Ali Dabbagh, the prime minister's spokesman.
Support is building. We are hearing lots of good things so far. But they are first steps. Don’t be afraid to call for an exit strategy every chance you get. Make the American public proud. As a side bonus, it will solidify a Democratic majority for years to come. Say it loud. Say it again and again. Take the ball and run with it. We all want out of Iraq. The time is right to take action.
Just do it.