In the five years since the United States invaded Iraq, nearly 4,000 American troops have lost their lives, 27,000 more have been injured and maybe as many as a million Iraqis have died. And we learned last week the cost of the war might exceed $3 trillion.
When I stood up to oppose an invasion of Iraq in 2002 it wasn't a popular thing to do. I was running for the U.S. Senate and the "experts" said it would be easier if I were in favor of the war. "This isn't the time to take a stand," they told me. Going along with the invasion might have been the easy thing to do, but I knew it wasn't the right thing to do.
It's not so hard to oppose the war now. In fact, saying "let's get out" has become the easy thing to do. Let me be clear: we have to stop the war and end our occupation of Iraq. More "surges" or "pauses" won't solve anything. But we need a plan -- a responsible plan to not just end military operations in Iraq but to also start putting our efforts into using non-military means to address the political, economic and humanitarian problems in the region. At home we have to rebuild a broken military and repair our institutions of government. The checks and balances built into our Constitution must be restored and we must restore our commitment to an independent media.
The problems that the Iraq War has created are complex and reach into every corner of our society. The solutions are complex, too, but within our reach. Working with Darcy Burner (candidate in WA-08) and Donna Edwards (candidate in MD-04) we have developed a package of policy proposals that, if elected, we will work to pass in Congress. The Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq goes well beyond ending military activity in Iraq -- it includes proposals that not only get us out of Iraq, but begin to repair the damage the war has done to our economy, our society and our standing in the world. We have also focused on what went wrong in the run up to the invasion, with the goal of preventing a future Administration and Congress from getting us into another unjustified, indefensible, misguided war.
The plan has the support of respected military figures:
- Major General Paul Eaton (US Army ret.), the general in charge of training the Iraqi military immediately after the invasion in 2003 and 2004.
- Brigadier General John Johns (US Army ret), a specialist in counterinsurgency and nation-building
- Captain Larry Seaquest (US Navy, ret) former commander of the USS Iowa and a former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.
Along with Darcy, Donna and me, six other challengers have also committed to supporting the Responsible Plan to End the War. We will unveil the complete plan this Monday at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC and will make it available online at that time at www.responsible plan.org. You can also go to my website, chelliepingree.com. I'd love to hear from you.
Cleaning up after the Bush administration is going to be a big job -- and the only way we will be able to tackle it is by working together. I hope you'll join us.