Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Iraq vets ask Obama to end war and occupation

On Veterans Day, let's pause to consider the words of Iraq Veterans Against the War, in an open letter to President-Elect Barack Obama:
We appreciate your inspiring words spoken at Grant Park in Chicago on Tuesday night - words which should give all Americans hope for our future. But we also remember the hope your words gave to many Americans in an August 2007 speech - especially those serving in our military:
"Ending this war will be my first priority when I take office. There is no military solution in Iraq. Only Iraq's leaders can settle the grievances at the heart of Iraq's civil war."
Much has changed in our country since that speech, and the prevailing sentiment among Americans is that our faltering economy must now be your first priority. We understand and share their concern, but we believe that our faltering economy cannot be corrected if we continue the costly occupation of Iraq – an immense financial cost which is simply unsustainable. The American people are giving billions of dollars every week to continue an occupation that is draining our wallets, our respect, our security, and the lives of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi men, women, and children.
Of course it is all connected.

Yesterday, after the ACLU reminded Obama of his pledge on another topic, with a full page ad in the New York Times, the Obama team said he would keep his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Interestingly, a Google search of Obama and Guantanamo made it clear that is much bigger news abroad than in the US. British, Irish, Canadian and Australian newspapers and the BBC all carried more about it than US news outlets.

Yes, he made a lot of promises during that long campaign. And he'll have to prioritize; they can't all happen on Day One. The economy demands attention.

But it's up to us to remind him in no uncertain terms that a major reason he became the Democratic nominee was the belief that he was more committed than Hillary Clinton to ending the war in Iraq.

Obama assured us, when John McCain was suspending his campaign to focus on the ecoomy, that he was capable of doing more than one thing at a time. Let's make sure he does.

One way to send a message that we want the war and occupation to end quickly is to take part in Iraq Moratorium activities on the Third Friday of every month. It's a day to interrupt our daily routines and take some action to call for an and to the war and occupation. Join us. Do something. Keep the pressure on.

UPDATE U.S. Labor Against the War seconds IVAW's motion:
The Obama campaign was launched and gained momentum based on his pledge to end the war. That was what distinguished Senator Obama from all his major primary competitors. The election reaffirms the mandate given to the Congress in the election of 2006, but which the majority in Congress chose to ignore. It is a mandate to end the war and occupation in Iraq, to remove all foreign military forces and mercenaries, bring them all home, and truly care for them when they return.