Investigative Journalism that is as
Radical as Reality Itself.

The Logic of Withdrawal

by ANTHONY ARNOVE

(This essay is adapted from ANTHONY ARNOVE’s January 29th testimony before Congress’s "Out Now Caucus," chaired by Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Rep. Maxine Waters.)

The title of my book is borrowed from Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, written in 1967 by the historian Howard Zinn.

In his book, Zinn argued the U.S. should pull out of Vietnam immediately and unconditionally. The consequences of not heading this call were enormous: tens of thousands of U.S. troops and millions in Indochina paid the price of the escalation and expansion of the war.

There are differences between Vietnam and Iraq. But there are all too many similarities. I fear we are in a moment analogous to the period after the Tet Offensive, when the U.S. faced defeat in Vietnam, but rather than retreat escalated the war and expanded it to Laos and Cambodia, using arguments much like the ones we now hear in this administration’s threats against Iran and Syria.

In my book, I make eight basic points that I will briefly summarize here.

1. The U.S. has no business to be in Iraq today. The Bush administration launched the invasion of Iraq on false premises, claiming it was preempting the threat posed to the U.S. by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its links to al-Qaeda. Today we know the full extent of manipulation of intelligence that was used to start a war that was not defensive but offensive in nature.

2. The U.S. is not bringing democracy to Iraq. In fact, the U.S. occupation is denying the will of the Iraqi people. Iraqis have made it clear that no matter how much they are happy to see Saddam Hussein gone, they see U.S. troops as occupiers not liberators. Iraqis feel less safe as a result of our presence; believe we are the main source of instability; and say we are fueling sectarian conflict rather than diminishing it. The U.S. occupation – not al-Qaeda or Iran – is the reason for the insurgency.

3. The U.S. is not making the world safer by staying. Instead, we have made the world more unstable and dangerous. We have established a principle that countries may wage preemptive war, and in the process have sparked an intensified global arms race, including a nuclear arms race.

4. The U.S. is not preventing civil war. Iraq is already in a civil war, one exacerbated by our presence. This August, the Bush administration sent 14,000 additional troops into Baghdad. The result? A surge in violence and sectarianism. The additional 21,500 troops will only pour more fuel on the fire.

5. The U.S. is not confronting terrorism by staying. The main enemy that the U.S. confronts in Iraq is not al-Qaeda or foreign-backed terrorist groups but the very people we claim to have liberated.

6. The U.S. is not honoring those who died in Iraq by continuing the occupation. Now more than 3,000 U.S. troops have died. More than 22,000 have been wounded. The Iraqi death toll is far higher. Each additional death and injury only compounds the senseless tragedy we have seen so far.

7. The U.S. is not rebuilding Iraq. Despite the billions of dollars Congress has allocated for reconstruction efforts, contractors such as Bechtel and KBR have failed to restore electricity or access to safe water to pre-invasion levels. Unemployment has skyrocketed. Inflation is spiraling, putting basic necessities out of reach of Iraqis. Hospitals are in shambles. Iraq today is the world’s worst refugee crisis.

8. The U.S. is not fulfilling its obligation to the Iraqi people by staying. To those who argue we broke it, so we must fix it: rather than fixing Iraq, we are only breaking it further. There are many ways we can help Iraqis: withdraw; pay reparations – not only for the harm and suffering caused by our invasion and occupation, but for the years of sanctions, which hurt only the most vulnerable in Iraqi society, and all the years Washington armed and backed Saddam Hussein as he carried out his worst abuses; renounce our military bases; help the Iraqi refugees we have abandoned; and ensure the vast revenue from Iraq’s oil industry benefits Iraqis rather than ballooning the profits of Western oil giants.

The other night, on 60 Minutes, President Bush said "Everybody was wrong on weapons of mass destruction." Yet millions of us who protested this war before it started were right, and were ignored. We did not have access to any special intelligence. We simply used our intelligence. And today we have the intelligence to know that each day we continue the occupation of Iraq, the situation gets worse. Every time we have been told "we are turning the corner," the situation gets worse. And we have the intelligence to know that you cannot oppose the war, as some Democrats have proclaimed, and yet fund this war. To those who say we cannot withdraw "precipitously," there is nothing precipitous about pulling out after four years of occupying another country against its will. And to those who say we are abandoning the troops, the best way to support the troops is to bring them home now.

ANTHONY ARNOVE is the author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, just published in an updated paperback edition in the American Empire Project Series by Metropolitan Books, with a foreword by Howard Zinn.

 

July 08, 2015
Norman Pollack
Post-Senescent Stage of Advanced Capitalism; EU and Greece
July 07, 2015
Bruce K. Gagnon
Sanders Bullshit Meter Goes Off the Charts in Portland, Maine
ANDRE VLTCHEK
In Ecuador, Fight for Mankind; In Greece, Fight for Greece!
Nile Bowie
Obama’s Pacific Trade Deal Trails Behind China’s Development Vision
Binoy Kampmark
Warrior Economist: the Varoufakis Legacy
Shamus Cooke
Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow
Dave Lindorff
The Greek People Have Voted ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail
Mateo Pimentel
The Pope’s Letter: Neoliberalism and Fukushima
Raouf Halaby
Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues
Ron Jacobs
The Grateful Dead: The Ship of the Sun Bids Farewell
Jonathan Cook
Hasbara Industry: Why Israel’s Army of Spin-Doctors is Doomed to Defeat
Rev. William Alberts
Charleston: a Reality Check on Racism in America
Ellen Brown
A Franciscan Alternative: the People’s Pope and a People’s Bank?
Colin Todhunter
The Warped World of the GMO Lobbyist
John Wight
Who Will Join With Greece?
W. T. Whitney
Colombia’s Fensuagro Union is Revolutionary, Persecuted, and Undaunted
Mel Gurtov
Keep It in the Ground, Obama
July 06, 2015
MICHAEL HUDSON
Greece Rejects the Troika
Steve Hendricks
Will FIFA’s World Cup Sexism Ever Die?
Binoy Kampmark
Oxi in Greece
Gareth Porter
How US Spin on Access to Iranian Sites has Distorted the Issue
Peter Bach
ISIL and Ramadan in the Rag
Paul Craig Roberts
A Rebuke to EU-Imposed Austerity
Robert Hunziker
Looking Inside Fukushima Prefecture
Quincy Saul
The View from Mount Olympus
ADRIENNE PINE, RICHARD JOHNSTON, FIONA WILMOT, et al.
Seven Reasons to Scrap the USA’s $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America
Norman Pollack
Capitalism’s Self-Revealing Practices
David Macaray
Could Justice Scalia Be the One to Rescue Labor?
Linn Washington Jr.
Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy
Benjamin Willis
US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?
Robert David Steele
The National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes
Joan Roelofs
Whatever Happened to Eastern European Communism?
Weekend Edition
July 3-5, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World
Jason Hirthler
Going Off-Script in St. Petersburg
Rob Urie
Greece and Global Class War
DIMITRIS KONSTANTAKOPOULOS
The Future of Greece Without Illusions
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites
David Rosen
White Skin Crisis
Jerry Lembcke
Nobody Spat on American GIs!
Stavros Mavroudeas
The Greek Referendum and the Tasks of the Left
Arun Gupta
What Does It Mean to Call Dylann Roof a “Terrorist”?
Michael Welton
The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada
Andrew Levine
Dumping on Dixie Again
Richard Pithouse
Charleston (It’s Not Over)
Brendan McQuade
The Right Wing Resurgence and the Problem of Terrorism