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The Critical Next Steps to Getting Out of Iraq

Heiderose Kober

Finally, there is a national awakening taking place. An ever-increasing majority recognizes that the Iraq war--an unprovoked, needless and illegal invasion that has turned into a brutal occupation--is a moral and political failure that cannot be reversed. For the families of the 2077+ dead and over 15,470 wounded, it is life-long heartbreak. For the Iraqi people, it is a national disaster. It must end.

Despite the ongoing spin by the Bush administration, the poll numbers clearly show that the American public has largely lost patience with the endless violence and senseless waste of lives. The American people rightly question the logic of over 220 billion dollars spent on this war with little apparent success or any end in sight. The reports of lies and fabricated intelligence, torture and secret prisons, ineptitude and corruption are taking their toll as well. Enough is finally enough.

So it is encouraging to see more and more of our elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, calling on the Bush administration to lay out its strategy for ending this war.

North Carolina Representatives David Price and Brad Miller have recently sponsored a congressional joint resolution calling for the President to submit a detailed plan for ending the occupation - including a near-term initial withdrawal of troops. They further call for no long-term US military presence in that country and for turning all the US bases over to the Iraqi government. This is indeed a welcome development and an important step. Unfortunately, it sets no timetable for withdrawal or final date by which to judge if a Bush withdrawal plan is acceptable. More importantly, it mentions no consequences within control of Congress should President Bush refuse to submit an acceptable exit plan.

Congressional Representatives calling for an exit strategy from Iraq must develop a political exit strategy from the Bush administration's policies in Iraq and thoroughly counter the war proponents' discredited talking points. Few Congressmen have aggressively taken on the case against withdrawal.

The prevailing argument of "voting against the troops in the field" needs to be exposed as the propaganda it really is. Continuing to support an unwinnable, unpopular war that was based on duplicity, greed, and ambition is irresponsible and unnecessarily endangers the men and women who serve in Iraq. To facilitate an honest discussion, we must separate a bad war from the soldiers who are required to fight it and hold the politicians who have taken us to war accountable.

When Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-D) introduced the "End the War in Iraq Act of 2005," he bluntly put the administration on notice: no more money for failed foreign adventures. This bill would allow Defense Department funds to be used only to provide for the safe and orderly withdrawal of troops and consultations with other governments, NATO and the UN regarding international forces. The bill would not "abandon the Iraqi people" as the as stay-the-course adherents would have us believe. It allows financial assistance and material equipment to Iraqi and/or international security forces. In addition, the bill would not prohibit or restrict non-defense funding for reconstruction and humanitarian aid in Iraq. We urge our Representatives to support this bill and strengthen their own bill by refusing to give the Bush administration another blank check for this war.

This winter will become a watershed season for public opinion. The most vulnerable of our nation--the elderly, the sick, the poor--will be at grave risk due to record heating fuel prices, inadequate health care, and a shredded social safety net while the carnage and fiscal hemorrhaging go on unabated in Iraq. As an increasingly desperate government tries in vain to hide the terrible consequences of its arrogance, incompetence and criminal neglect, the American people will look for political leadership that stands for another kind of America. Representatives Price and Miller need to show commitment and courage by taking the absolutely necessary next steps to bring this war to an end.

Churchill once said about Americans, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." It looks as if we are finally turning the corner-not in Iraq, but at home.

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