The Guardian 24 January, 2007

Opposition to Iraq war surges in US

Susan Webb

President Bush’s announcement that he is sending over 21,000 more troops to Iraq has fuelled increasing bipartisan opposition in Congress, among the US public, in the labour movement and among the military itself. A major anti-war demonstration and lobby is to take place in Washington over the weekend of January 27-29. Organisers report growing interest in the protest actions.

A Congressional Progressive Caucus is introducing a Bill called "Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act".

The measure would:

  • repeal the 2002 authorisation for the use of force,

  • fund withdrawal of US forces and military contractors from Iraq within six months of the Bill’s passage,

  • prohibit funding to deploy or keep US troops in Iraq,

  • accelerate US aid to train Iraqi police and community-based security,

  • bar permanent US bases there,

  • provide economic and political aid to the Iraqi government,

  • authorise US support to replace US troops and contractors with an international stabilisation force if requested by the Iraqi government,

  • and fully fund health care for all US war veterans.

    Meanwhile several Republican Senators say they would join Democrats in supporting a bipartisan resolution opposing Bush’s escalation plan.

    In a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 70 percent of the public disapproved of Bush’s handling of Iraq. A Pew Research Centre poll showed a similar 70 percent think Bush has no clear plan for Iraq, and 59 percent think the US should set a timetable to withdraw. Directly opposing Bush’s rhetoric, 57 percent said America’s safety from terrorism does not depend upon our "success" in the war in Iraq, and 61 percent opposed sending in more troops.

    A delegation of US service members has delivered to Capitol Hill an appeal signed by 1031 active duty and reserve soldiers, sailors and marines asking Congress to end the Iraq war and bring all US troops home. Signers of the online appeal included 35 troops serving in Baghdad.

    Another petition circulated by the Appeal for Redress organisation and signed by active duty and reserve military personnel says: "As a patriotic American, proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for US troops to come home."

    Marine Sgt Liam Madden, 22, co-founder of the Appeal for Redress group, said, "This is not politics. It’s our generation’s call to conscience."

    Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, 29, the other co-founder, is a graduate of Howard University who serves on an aircraft carrier. He told a reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch he was motivated to organise the group while stationed off the coast of Iraq last year and after reading a book on GI resistance to the Vietnam War.

    David Cline, president of Vet­erans for Peace, accompanied the delegation delivering the petition to Congress. He told the People’s Weekly World, "This is a very impressive initiative by active duty and reserve soldiers and shows just how strong opposition to this war is among men and women in uniform."

    In a poll of military personnel published last month in four military newspapers — Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times — only 41 percent felt it was a good idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.

    President of the peak union body the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, and President of the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, Gerald McEntee, blasted Bush’s escalation plan.

    Bush is trying to "salvage his own legacy by putting in harm’s way more young American soldiers", said John Sweeney in a January 11 statement.

    The soldiers risking their lives in Iraq come from America’s working families, the labour leader said. "They deserve leaders who will call them only when the nation’s security is at risk and there is a clear plan for victory. This administration has failed and continues to fail that basic obligation.

    "What is needed in Iraq is an expansion of political and diplomatic efforts — not an increase in United States military performing police functions", Sweeney emphasised.

    "Moreover, sustainable social and economic development and the guarantee of fundamental labour and trade union rights are absolutely essential."

    Gerald McEntee called pouring more troops and funds into the war "reckless and wrong" and "bad foreign policy" that "takes away the resources we need to solve problems here at home".

    People’s Weekly World

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