Iraq War Veterans Speak Out - Say Bring the Troops Home Now

jasendorf

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http://www.ivaw.org/supplementalresponse

Iraq Veterans Against the War to Congress: “End the War, Don’t Prolong It!”

Last week, as the U.S. death toll in Iraq climbed over 3,242, Congress voted to continue the war by approving the $124 billion supplemental bill. This week, the Senate is expected to similarly approve funding for this war that continues to violently destroy U.S. and Iraqi lives every day. The Democratic leadership claims that, to end the war, they must continue funding it. Iraq Veterans Against the War knows that, despite the Democrats guarantees of time tables and restrictions, the supplemental will not end the occupation of Iraq or prevent further escalation of the war. It is time for our brothers and sisters in the military to come home and for the Iraqi people to be allowed their right to self-determination.

The $124 billion supplemental bill calls for half of the troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by August 2008, over a year away. We can expect, until that time, to lose at least another 1,000 of our men and women and tens of thousands of Iraqis. The August deadline is also misleading because whole categories of troops are exempt from the withdrawal, including those who are “training the Iraqi military,” engaged in “special operations,” or “protecting diplomatic enclaves.” This means that Bush could keep unlimited numbers of our troops, perhaps 60,000-80,000, permanently in Iraq. The bill also does not specify that the troops who are withdrawn be sent home; they could very well be sent to Afghanistan, surrounding Arab countries, or be used to escalate the war into Iran.

The Democrats say that the supplemental bill will ensure that troops are fully trained, equipped, and rested between deployments. However, the bill includes a waiver for the president to simply override the restrictions and continue sending exhausted, overstressed troops into combat. Although the bill prohibits construction of new permanent bases in Iraq, it does nothing to close the already approximately 12 permanent U.S. military bases built across Iraq. The supplemental also does not do enough to address the concerns and problems of corporate war profiteering. There are currently over 100,000 private contractors in Iraq, doing jobs that range from working in military dining facilities, to interrogating prisoners, and patrolling Iraqi streets.

Instead of using their “power of the purse” to end the war in Iraq, the Democratic leadership is simply trying to shift the blame for the war back onto the president. They want us to believe that they are doing all they can to end the war and we must be patient. The reality is that the occupation of Iraq must end. We are veterans and service men and women who have served in the military since September 11, 2001. Many of us have experienced first-hand the horrors of war and know that the first step to end the violence in Iraq is to end the U.S. occupation. Every day that we remain in Iraq, more of our fellow troops and innocent Iraqis are killed and wounded. Meanwhile, families worry for their loved ones or grieve their loss, and our veterans return to find out that the government that sent them to war isn’t equipped to deal with their injuries. The time to bring the troops home is now and for Congress to demand any less is irresponsible and morally reprehensible.
 

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