"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

May 31, 2005

"Stand and Be Heard"

William Rivers Pitt of PDA talks about withdrawing our troops from Iraq (snippet):

By William Rivers Pitt - Progressive Democrats of America

...The occupation of Iraq has lasted some 800 days. In that time, 1,653 American soldiers have been killed, along with 180 soldiers from other nations of the ‘Coalition of the Willing,' putting the butcher's bill at 1,833 in total. Ten times that number have been wounded, many of them permanently. The most common injuries are to the brain; when a roadside bomb goes off in Iraq next to an American armored personnel carrier, the soldiers inside get their brains jarred within their Kevlar helmets. They come away without a scratch, but are never, ever the same again.

More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed during this invasion and occupation. There is no accurate numbering of the dead, because we don't do body counts. At least as many have been wounded. They are shot by snipers, strafed by helicopters, buried under the rubble of their houses by bombs, incinerated by fire, and left to rot in the streets of cities like Falluja to be gnawed on by dogs. The only crime these people committed against America, in the words of MP George Galloway, was to be born Iraqi.

Hospitals in Iraq are without trained medical personnel and without doctors. Ambulances are targeted for attack by American forces because they are suspected of transporting ‘insurgents.' Hospital bathrooms are filled to the walls with urine and feces because the plumbing does not work. Buildings that were blasted two years ago remain piles of shattered cement. Electrical power in the best neighborhoods is sporadic at best, and almost nonexistent everywhere else. Citizens of this oil-rich nation sit in endless lines for two days to receive their rationed 7.5 liters of gasoline, because the American corporations that have taken control of the petroleum infrastructure are not pumping any oil. They are sitting on it, hoarding it, keeping it for themselves like some kind of noxious nest egg. Unemployment stands at 70%.

And the rage there builds. Every day it builds, festering in the streets like the corpses left unburied after the echoes from bombs and bullets fade. The keepers of the cleansed consensus in the media tell us those who attack our troops are Ba'athist holdouts and foreign fighters who have come to Iraq for the pleasure of killing American soldiers, but this is only a small part of the story. Everyday Iraqi citizens who would never have dreamed of doing violence to anyone have taken up arms and now fight to rid their nation of its occupiers. Iraqi citizens who have seen their wives, husbands, children, parents, brothers, sisters and friends turned into red smears across what used to be the family dinner table now drink deep the bitter dregs of vengeance, because that is all they have left to them.

There is in the Bible a verse to describe what has been done to Iraq by the Bush administration, what has been done to our soldiers and their citizens, what has been done to us all. "For they have sown the wind," reads Hosea 8:7, "and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal." There is no freedom to be found in Iraq. There is no democracy. For sure and certain, there are no weapons of mass destruction, nor was there ever a threat posed by that nation against ours. There is only the whirlwind, and if we do not put an end to the crime that was this invasion and is this occupation, that whirlwind will consume us in fire and blood and tears.

It is enough. By all that we hold true and dear, it is more than enough. This must be ended.

Rep. Woolsey's efforts to bring national attention to the need for an end to this occupation of Iraq made it to the floor of the House of Representatives on May 25th. Rep. Woolsey offered an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill which asked Bush to develop a plan for the withdrawal of American troops. Though the amendment was defeated, it garnered the support of a large majority of House Democrats. Perhaps more encouraging was the fact that five Republicans – Harold Coble (NC), Walter Jones (NC), John Duncan (TN), Jim Leach (IA) and Ron Paul (TX) – likewise voted in favor of the amendment. This happened with little advance warning and little time to get the grassroots mobilized, yet PDA joined with several groups and was able to successfully organize activists to urge Representatives to support the amendment.

There is daylight here. Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey to this invasion and occupation, who lost her son after Bush proclaimed "Mission Accomplished," believes in her heart that there is daylight here. "Members of Congress know that Iraq is a mistake," says Sheehan. "I know, because I have spoken to many members of the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans alike, who all acknowledge that Iraq is a catastrophe. It has been encouraging to me to see that conscientious Republicans have begun to split with their party line on such things as the Bolton nomination and the so-called 'nuclear option.' It is time that Republican members of Congress break with their party and their President on the issue of Iraq, and work with like-minded Democratic members of Congress to get our troops out of the quagmire as soon as safely possible."

In the name of all that you hold dear and true, in the name of the soldiers who have fallen and the soldiers who still stand waiting to come home, in the name of the men, women and children of Iraq, both the living and the dead, in the name of a justice that has been all too absent of late, I urge you to join us in our campaign next week. Call, write, stomp and shout to demand this catastrophe be brought to an end. It can be done, and it must be done. In your hands lies a better future for us, for them, for the world entire.

Ask your Representatives to support Rep. Lynn Woolsey's resolution to end the occupation. In the name of all that you hold dear and true, stand and be heard....

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