Monday, August 27, 2007

It's Time To Take a Stand on Iraq

The borrowed time on the Washington D.C. clock on the Iraq war will have run down by September 11th. When the much-hyped White House-written 'Petraeus report' is given to the public, it will be on the sixth anniversary of an attack on American targets perpetrated by those who had absolutely nothing to do with the 2001-government of Iraq. Like the cherry-picked intelligence reports of 2002, bits and pieces of General Petraeus' thoughts will be carefully selected to suit the White House's political needs to cover for their five-year mistake.

It's time to take a stand.

The majority of Americans are sick of being misled and disgusted each time they see the White House exploit September 11th for political gain.

Republican leaders like Senator John Warner see what is happening, but are too tepid in their protests about the White House strategy on Iraq. They pay occasional lip service to throw mainstream voters a bone, then sit by and accept the White House approach as, year after year, the same disastrous course is pursued. That's wrong. Abdicating responsibility to support the mandate of the People, they refuse to use their Congressional checks and balances to put teeth into what they say they believe. That's wrong.

A recent AP report on the White House's displeasure with Senator Warner has an interesting paragraph:
After his trip to Iraq this month, which included a meeting with top Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus, Warner said time has run out on the Baghdad government and Bush should make good on his word that the U.S. commitment was not open-ended by announcing a pullout of troops this fall.

Look at how quickly Senator Warner backtracks. From the same article:
After Warner made his ideas public, White House officials said they reached out to Warner's staff and asked him to clarify his position. An administration official said Warner's staff agreed that his views were being portrayed incorrectly.

One baby step forward and two giant steps back is clearly not moving this White House. The small numbers of elected Republicans who have weakly intimated that they opposed any part of the White House strategy are currently being beaten back and corralled by bully-advertisements paid by special interests. There's a campaign called "Freedom's Watch" (started by former aides to President Bush and other prominent Republicans) aimed at keeping Republican unquestioning support for President Bush's Iraq policy.

According to a report by Mark Weiner [] , the Freedom's Watch campaign has invested in an intial buy of $144,955 of air time in the Syracuse area over the next four weeks, targeting Congressman James Walsh and 36 other members of the House and Senate (Freedom's Watch denies targeting these leaders, but the reality speaks for itself). See the ads here.

We voters in Syracuse do not appreciate seeing the Republican who represents us (and who won by a razor-thin margin last November) squeezed by these special interests who set out to call a measured exit strategy in Iraq "a surrender". We all know better than to call it that. We support the hard work we know our troops have done while given a mission they could never actually complete with any measurable victorious outcome. We know, from real troops polled and real troops who come here to tell us, that they just want to come home safely.

Is victory America's only choice? What defines victory? Should victory be totally dependent on internecine forces within the political framework of Iraq over which we have little to no control? We all want to think we've made a positive difference for this country's national security and most of Americans believe it hasn't happened in the last five years. Why is the White House (and those who support their failed strategy) pressing selected leaders and intimidating them into silence, thus minimizing a frank American debate about how to change the course of future events to achieve something positive?

The Washington D.C. clock has run out and the Baghdad clock will be a ticking time bomb for years to come.

Congressman Walsh in NY-25, who has stated that he wants an unvarnished report from General Petraeus (and we already know he won't be getting one) will be asked these questions and more (if he accepts the invitation and shows up) at a planned town hall meeting here in Syracuse this Tuesday evening, August 28th.

There will be 52 town hall meetings and vigils just like it across the United States, sponsored by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. The "Take a Stand Campaign" is a nation-wide organizing drive to demand that Republican members of Congress and the Senate take a stand with the vast majority of Americans who want a safe and responsible redeployment of American forces from Iraq.

A list of the meetings and vigils to be held near you can be found here. I hope you will plan to attend one of these meetings near you.