Saturday, February 28, 2009


"Soldiers in Iraq React Cautiously to Obama Deadlines for Troop Withdrawal" informs Steven Lee Myers in today's New York Times -- and good for them. That puts them way up on Peter Baker who, being a journalist, is supposed to show journalistic skepticism. Reporting from Forward Operating Base Warhorse in Iraq, Myers speaks with a variety of people serving in the military before and after the speech. Meanwhile Justin Ramondo ( offers "The Silence of the Liberals:"

Not by a long shot. Has anyone noticed Obama's vaunted 16-month withdrawal-from-Iraq plan has already stretched into 19 months – and the "residual force" he kept talking about during the campaign, as if it were a mere afterthought, turns out to be 50,000 strong?

Originally, none of those "residuals" were supposed to be combat troops – yet now we are told "some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions." You have to go all the way to the very end of this New York Times report before you discover that, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, "A limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces."

In short: we aren't leaving.

While Barack play-acts at ending the illegal war, A.N.S.W.E.R. is among those calling for action:

7 Reasons You Should Join the March
on the Pentagon on March 21, 2009

Please post this your Facebook and MySpace pages, and send it to a friend!

March 21 Color 8.5x11
Download the 2-sided color ANSWER flyer, which has this statement on the back
The war in Afghanistan is expanding and widening. President Obama announced last week that another 17,000 troops are on their way to Afghanistan. Only 18 percent of Afghanis support this escalation and only 34 percent of the people of the United States approve of the added troops despite the president’s popularity, according to the Washington Post/ABC poll announced on February 17, 2009. This is a colonial war. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was not involved in the decision to add more occupying troops into his country. Rather, he was “informed of the deployments in a telephone call with Obama” on February 17, according to the Washington Post (February 18, 2009).

About 350,000 U.S. troops and U.S.-paid private contractors (mercenaries) still occupy Iraq. The Iraqi people want the occupation to end. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is insisting that only two of the 14 combat brigades in Iraq exit in 2009. The war and occupation of Iraq costs $430 million each day. If the U.S. government were to end the military occupation, any and all future Iraqi governments would return to a position of political independence from the economic and political dictates of the United States. Iraq’s anti-colonial legacy has created a political reality that prohibits the country from becoming like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia--an out-and-out dependency on U.S. imperialism. That is the real reason that the U.S. government fears a complete disengagement from Iraq and an end to its military occupation.

Israel’s Siege of Gaza remains in place, with the full backing of Washington. The U.S. government has continued to fund Israel’s war and blockade against the people of Gaza. The Pentagon provided the funding, and technical and logistical support for the establishment of the Israeli war machine, including its massive cluster and white phosphorous bomb arsenal, and the country’s large cache of nuclear bombs.

The new Justice Department has announced that it will continue the policy of renditions, meaning the CIA and Pentagon will capture and kidnap individuals anywhere in the world and transfer them to other countries. “The Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration's war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.” (LA Times, Feb. 1, 2009)

The new administration has stepped up the air strikes that are killing an increasingly large number of Pakistani civilians. Unmanned drone bombing attacks violate Pakistani sovereignty and are creating an ocean of resentment and anger inside of Pakistan. The U.S. government has no right to carry out these drone bombing strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The people of the United States would not accept the legitimacy of other governments ordering air attacks in the United States. We must openly and loudly reject such tactics by the government that speaks in our name and spends our tax dollars for such aggression.

The real Pentagon war budget is over $1.3 trillion annually. This is greater than the combined total of most of the other countries in the world, including all the NATO countries, and Russia and China. Some label this “waste spending” because it spends precious resources to build exotic and high cost weapons, a new generation of nuclear weapons, and space-based war fighting capabilities, while filling the coffers of the big investors (i.e., the biggest banks) in the war corporations. Pentagon contracting is often based on guaranteed “cost-plus” contracts that reward price gouging since corporate profit is based on a fixed percentage above their expenses. Another label for this process is “extreme corruption” and theft from the public treasury.

More than 20 million people are now unemployed and under-employed. Nine million families are either in foreclosure or are at risk of foreclosure this year, according to the statistics just released by the government. Forty-seven million people are without health care. College tuition hikes are soaring and millions of students are at risk of being forced out of school. The people want change. They don’t want a simple tweaking of Bush’s criminal foreign policies. They want to put people's needs before corporate greed. They want an end to wars of aggression that are wreaking havoc, death and destruction abroad, and diverting urgently needed resources in the service of semi-colonialism and Empire.

Get Involved
Go to for more information.

Iraq Veterans Against the War will be participating and IVAW notes:

IVAW Wants to See Obama Call for a Complete Withdrawal from Iraq
As an organization of Global War on Terror veterans and Active Duty service members, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is pleased that President Obama is taking important steps to bring our fellow service members home. However, his plan to slowly remove combat brigades over the next 18 months and leave a remaining 35-50,000 troops throughout 2011 is a plan for almost three more years of an unjustified military occupation that continues to claim the lives and livelihoods of our troops and innocent Iraqis.
President Obama speaks of a change in mission, from a combat role to a support role, but yet still leaves room for “conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions” with a portion of the transitional forces remaining combat-ready. He also does not include a timeline for removing the more than 150,000 private defense contractors and mercenaries still in Iraq, nor does he address the question of disallowing permanent military bases.
His plan is also coming at a time when 17,000 more troops are being deployed to Afghanistan. He says he understands service members have “[born] the heaviest burden,” but how is he alleviating that burden by removing troops from Iraq only to ask them to fight in an escalating occupation in Afghanistan? The longer that both of these occupations continue, the more difficult it will be to meet the needs of our returning veterans who are already suffering from inadequate care and a lack of resources.
We must ensure that U.S. control of Iraq, which today is accomplished primarily through military force, is not maintained over the longer term through the use of more subtle legal, financial, economic, or political means. "The Iraqi people deserve the dignity of full sovereignty and control of their own nation," says Kelly Doughery, Executive Director of IVAW and former Military Police Sergeant, "and the only way to give this to them is by the immediate and complete withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq – this means withdrawing all military personnel, troops, and defense contractors, closing all military bases, ceasing air operations, and removing American interests intent on controlling Iraqi oil resources."

That's Kelly Dougherty, by the way. Discussed in last night's roundtable:

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