*** The peace movement in the U.S. and globally has helped create the growing public consensus and rising demands to end the war and bring home the troops. The Bush administration is responding with escalating claims of Potemkin-style troop withdrawals.
*** The withdrawal of even tens of thousands of U.S. and "coalition" troops will not constitute an end to occupation while tens of thousands more remain in Iraq.
*** Ending occupation means complete withdrawal of ALL U.S. troops, ALL "coalition" troops, and ALL mercenaries (known as "private military contractors") from Iraq.
*** Ending occupation means closing all U.S. military bases in Iraq, including removing warplanes, offensive weapons systems, etc.
*** Ending occupation means ending the privatization and other outside economic controls imposed on Iraq by the United States, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
*** Ending occupation should include negotiating a political solution for, among other things, meeting Washington's post-occupation obligations to Iraq.
*** Ending occupation by withdrawing all U.S., foreign and mercenary troops will allow the people and legitimate resistance of Iraq to deal with what remains of their own occupation-fueled "terrorism problem."
The peace movement is succeeding in building expanded public, media and congressional calls to end the Iraq war. The "Murtha Moment" has brought revitalized energy and broadened the growing anti-war consensus, bringing anti-war/bring-the-troops-home sentiment even further into mainstream discourse. Much of the debate now focuses on whether to bring the troops home immediately, as soon as possible, or over the next year. White House officials are increasingly isolated in their calls for "staying the course."
It is in response to that widening anti-war consensus that the Bush administration is hyping its plans to withdraw some troops from Iraq, some in the aftermath of the December elections, probably more in the late spring. Similarly, international pressure on "Coalition" governments is leading to increased downsizing and withdrawals of troop contingents; the "Coalition of the Coerced" is rapidly becoming the "Coalition of the Collapsing."
The U.S. has made clear it intends to withdraw significant numbers of troops from Iraq - perhaps 20,000 or so in the next six to eight weeks, possibly another 30,000 or more through the spring/summer pre-election period. But with more than 140,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq, withdrawal of even tens of thousands of troops will not constitute an end to occupation.
The broad strategic goals of the U.S. in Iraq (control of oil access and pricing, expansion of U.S. military power in the region, creation of a reliable pro-U.S. regime in the heart of the Arab world) have not changed. But those goals do not require a permanent deployment of 140,000 troops, and therefore the Bush administration is responding to the rising congressional, global and especially public opposition to the war by declaring their intention of "huge" troop withdrawals. Permanent deployment at current levels is already creating a wide range of problems, including military over-stretch, military casualties fueling domestic political opposition, regional antagonism fueling not only political but paramilitary and/or terrorist responses, and growing global isolation.
U.S. plans almost certainly include withdrawing large numbers of troops, leaving behind a permanent deployment of 40,000 or 50,000 or more. They would likely move out of their current most visible occupation roles in the cities, retreat to the permanent bases now under construction, insure oil access and control, and back up the U.S.-friendly government. The effect will do nothing to quell the resistance, but will insure that Iraqi troops and police take even more of the brunt of the casualties. Our opposition is to the U.S. goals in Iraq - not only to the current troop deployment.
So even withdrawing 100,000 U.S. troops will NOT constitute an end to occupation.
Ending occupation means complete withdrawal of ALL U.S. troops, ALL "coalition" troops, and ALL mercenaries (known as "private military contractors") from Iraq.
Ending occupation means closing all U.S. military bases in Iraq, including removing warplanes, offensive weapons systems, etc.
Ending occupation means ending the outside economic control of Iraq by the United States, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which recently imposed a privatization-driven massive hike in gasoline prices in Iraq. There is a danger that further IMF-led privatization demands could lead to an end to food subsidies, even the privatization of Iraqi water.
Ending occupation should include negotiating a political solution for, among other things, meeting Washington's post-occupation obligations to Iraq. Recent reports indicate the U.S. is already negotiating with some sectors of the Iraqi resistance. The stated U.S. goal is to divide the Iraqi sectors of the resistance from the largely non-Iraqi extremist forces linked to al Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. As many of us have said for a long time, those terrorist forces - defined as those willing to attack Iraqi civilians - currently operate within the supportive environment created by the much broader anti-occupation Iraqi nationalist resistance. It is likely that the legitimate anti-occupation Iraqi resistance would indeed be capable of and eager to isolate those terrorist forces once the U.S. occupation is ended. The U.S. negotiations have reportedly foundered on the resistance forces' insistence that the U.S. occupation be quickly ended, and Washington's refusal to consider any such thing. We should support negotiations with the resistance - and support the demand that ending the occupation be first on the agenda.
Ending occupation means withdrawing all U.S., foreign and mercenary troops and allowing the people and legitimate resistance of Iraq to deal with what remains of their own occupation-fueled "terrorism problem."