THE BLOG
01/10/2007 12:16 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Open Letter to Congress - a tactic

The Bush-Maliki Plan, now called The Surge, to deploy an additional 20,000 US troops to Iraq is a last-ditch effort to prevent a decisive US political defeat in Iraq. The principle purpose of this "surge" is to destroy the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al Sadr , who broke his alliance with the Maliki government after Maliki met with George Bush to confirm Iraqi government submission to US forces two months ago. Sadr enjoys immense local support from almost 3 million Iraqis, and is a very popular figure through most of the Southern half of Iraq. Not only will the attempt to use this "surge" to destroy the Mehdi Army inflict massive civilian casualties in the tightly-packed warrens of Sadr City, it will ignite a popular rebellion among Shia, from Baghdad to Um Qasr, that will effectively destroy what is left of the legitimacy of the Maliki "government."

Opposing this "surge" is not only politically smart for Democrats; it is a moral imperative because of the civilian casualties that are certain to accrue. But it is also a maneuver to dodge the larger issue of the war itself, and of the 2006 election's implicit demand that the US withdraw from Iraq. Now is the time to put as much local pressure as possible on both parties' Senators and Representatives in order to accelerate the inevitable US withdrawal from Iraq at the least costing lives. It is in that spirit that this Open Letter to Members of the United States Congress is offered.

Please distribute this Open Letter to Members of the United States Congress as widely as possible, with the suggestions for using it.

Suggestion 1: Sign a copy and send it by email and paper mail to your own Congressperson.

Suggestion 2: Have a group from the same Congressional district sign it and send it to your Representatives and Senators.

Suggestion 3: Circulate the letter to as many people and organizations as possible in your city, county, or state, and send copies to both Senators and all Representatives.

Suggestion 4: Set up local web sites and lists to garner signatures, and publish the letter and signatories in the local liberal entertainment weekly. Then send copies of the paper to both Senators and all Congresspersons.

Suggestion 5: Come up with more creative suggestions... and implement them, now.

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Open Letter to Members of the United States Congress

We the undersigned are opposed to the Bush administration's continuing war in Iraq, but we are also disappointed with much of Congress - Republican and Democrat - as well as with much of the media, for failing to explain the real situation in Iraq and refusing to take decisive steps to halt the US-led occupation.

Media and therefore Congressional representations of the situation in Iraq are not just over-simplified; they are deceptive.

(1) There is never any mention of oil in these accounts. Both the media and most members of Congress are pretending that the US government's preoccupation with Iraq has nothing to do with fossil energy reserves; but most people in the US know that were it not for oil, the US government would have little interest in the region or its people. We do not believe that continuing the US addiction to oil (five percent of the world's population consuming 25% of its oil) is a valid reason to bomb and invade other nations and engage in wars of aggression.

(2) Media and Congressional accounts of the war almost always suggest that the war in Iraq - however "flawed" - is part of something called the Global War on Terrorism. But there can be no such thing as a war on a tactic, so we have to ask ourselves if this is not just another one-size-fits-all pretext for future military adventures. Iraq is not now nor has it ever been a threat to the security of people in the United States.

(3) There is no such thing as an Iraqi government except inside the Green Zone. Congressional and the media accounts constantly refer to the Iraqi government as the entity that requires US military assistance to become the guarantor of Iraqi security. But the relationship of all Iraqi forces demonstrates that this is a dangerous fantasy. The Maliki government - or any other government that relies on US military protection to survive for a week - commands the loyalty of only a fraction of the armed actors in Iraq. The armed forces being trained for that "government" are themselves loyal to factions with agendas, and these forces are filled with opportunists and infiltrators. With 80% of Iraqis now asking for an end to the Anglo-American occupation, and the Iraqis themselves identified not merely as Sunni or Shia (as simplified accounts have it), but of three major armed Shia factions, two major Sunni armed factions, and a Kurdish militia of 100,000 that resides in the north itself is divided into two camps, there is no possibility of one faction gaining the acquiescence of the whole Iraqi population and the various armed expressions of populations. The Ma.liki-Bush "surge" plan is designed to eliminate Maliki's Shia and Sunni opposition inside Baghdad.

(4) The various sectors of the Iraqi population share one goal: they want stability to rebuild. This goal cannot be accomplished without negotiations between the various groups. With most Iraqis now supporting armed resistance to the Anglo-American occupation, no sector that is identified with the occupation can gain legitimacy in the eyes of most Iraqis. American support for any Iraqi "government" is not preventing so-called "sectarian" violence, it is incubating it. There may be some fighting in Iraq after a US withdrawal, but the balance of forces and their geographical dispersion are more likely to produce negotiations than protracted civil war. At any rate, it is not the role of the US government to shape the future of Iraq. What our government has already done to the future of Iraqis is quite enough, thank you. Iraqis are far more qualified to figure this out than the US Departments of State and Defense.

(5) An exit is not a strategy; it is a command. Elaborate plans about how to withdraw are the responsibility of the military commanders, not Congress. Most members of Congress wouldn't know how to run a rifle platoon for an hour, much less the en masse redeployment of 150,000 troops. Leaving is a technical and tactical exercise. What is required, and what requires the political will of Congress - by de-funding the war - is the order to withdraw. Your job is the what, not the how.

(6) Half-measures happen while people continue to die. Opposing a "surge" in troop levels, but failing to oppose the war, is a half-measure.

(7) It has been said that "cutting and running" would send the "wrong message" to the world about the US... as if being ground down in a humiliating series of daily defeats hasn't already accomplished this. That's what they are. Defeats. Speak plainly. Military success is not predicated on tactical outcomes; but on political outcomes. By this measure, the US has already lost the war in Iraq. We never should have gone there in the first place. If this is about preserving the "national masculinity," then we are saying every life lost in this effort is pure sin. This machismo is the ideology of gangsters.

(8) De-funding the war will not put troops in danger. Specific conditional allocations of funds can be made available for the sole purpose of conducting a re-deployment. Much of the money being used in Iraq is paying exorbitant prices to private contractors. The war is what is putting troops in danger, not cutting funds to continue an illegal and immoral war.

In November 2006, the majority of voting Americans expressed its opposition to the war by putting Democrats back in control of Congress. You must understand that this was a "vote against," not a "vote for." Many of us have been disappointed and even angered by Democratic complicity in this criminal war.

Quit reading the wind, and start reading the weather. Since this horror began, support for US aggression in Iraq has gone from 90% to 30%. Ask yourself what the pattern is here. Republicans are already breaking ranks with the war. Democratic equivocation is establishing the basis for a historical reversal on the political question of the war. Those who are reading the weather will succeed in 2008. Those who are merely reading today's winds will be caught in the storm.

We want out of Iraq. By 2008, the majority of voters will want out of Iraq, and want out immediately, as we do now. They will remember who had the courage to say this before it crossed the 50% tipping point. They will also remember those who had their eyes fixed on today's anemometer. You have one weapon to use against this administration - the power of the purse - and you must use it.

Not one more day; not one more dime; not one more life; not one more lie.

Cut the funds for the war, and bring the troops home now.