Bring them home now!

Against the occupation of Iraq and withdrawal of all US troops – Now even soldiers and their families, reservists and veterans are openly criticizing the Bush administration

With the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the numerous attacks to which American soldiers fall victim almost every day, the anti-war movement in the U.S. is looking for new focal points for action. The new program is against the occupation of Iraq and the withdrawal of all US troops. The Congressional Budget Office has also spoken out in favor of the withdrawal of soldiers, because the personnel-intensive deployment in Iraq threatens the worldwide military presence of the USA.

Now even soldiers and their families, reservists and veterans are openly criticizing the Bush administration. Under the slogan "Bring them home now" they demand "an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures, and an immediate return of all U.S. troops".

A campaign to this effect was launched in mid-August. Among the founders are Military Families Speak Out, an organization of war resisters who have relatives in the military, and Veterans for Peace. The slogan "Bring them home" is a reference to the cry "Bring ’em on – Let them come" by George W. Bush. In reference to the attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, the president had said on 2. July at a press conference said:

There are some who think the conditions were favorable to attack us. My answer is: let them come.

Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt immediately criticized these statements as "Macho rhetoric". "What we need are serious attempts to develop a plan for post-war Iraq, not shove-it-off-the-hill talk." And even for the soldiers’ families, the president’s words sound like mockery. When at the beginning of August the "Bring them home now"-campaign was presented to the public, relatives, including the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, sharply attacked the Bush administration, as the magazine "The Nation" reported on its website. "Rumsfeld and Bush worry about the troops just as U.S. poultry and beef producer Tyson Foods worries about chicken", according to a veteran of the "Special Forces", whose son is deployed in Iraq.

The campaign also doubts that the Pentagon is accurately reporting the number of dead and wounded:

U.S. military casualties from the occupation of Iraq are more than two times what most Americans would be led to believe because of the extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other off-campus deaths that go largely unreported in the media. Die andere Kriegsfolge, die die US-Soldaten zu tragen haben und uber die nicht berichtet wird, ist die Zahl der verwundeten Amerikaner – offiziell 827 seit Beginn der Operation Iraqi Freedom (inoffizielle Zahlen gehen in die Tausende). Half of that has been hurt since Bush triumphantly announced on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier in early May that the rougher fighting was over.

Opponents of the occupation are not alone in this skepticism. Filmmaker Ashwin Raman also pointed out in the tageszeitung how contradictory the data on injured U.S. soldiers are. While the Pentagon reports 827 injured, the US military headquarters in Qatar reports 926 injured. Lt. Col. Allen Delane of Andrews Air Base in the U.S. had even spoken of more than 4,000 soldiers receiving treatment at his air base. In addition, there were injured people who had been transferred elsewhere due to lack of space. In total, Delane estimated the number of injured at about 8000 soldiers.

But the Bush administration still has more serious problems than the protests of war opponents. According to a study by the "Congressional Budget Office" (CBO), the Pentagon’s estimate that the occupation of Iraq will cost $3.9 billion per month is too high. Despite this, the U.S. cannot afford, according to the Congressional Office, to continue 180.000 troops in Iraq without reducing its worldwide combat readiness.

Either the number of soldiers has to be reduced by the winter of 2004.000 to 64.000, or troops need to be withdrawn from other parts of the world. It is also possible to use units such as the Marine Corps, Special Forces or National Guard, which have not yet been called upon for peacekeeping. At $19 billion a year in occupation costs, it would at least be cheaper than increasing the Army’s manpower and adding two new divisions, which CBO estimates would drive up occupation costs to $29 billion.

The Bush administration will now try again to get a new mandate from the UN Security Council, which some countries are demanding before sending soldiers into Iraq. This time, the U.S. itself wants to introduce a draft resolution to the Security Council. The Bush administration’s goal here is to reduce troop levels over a period of 18 to 24 months so that the occupation of Iraq is no more costly than the occupation in Bosnia or Kosovo, reported the "New York Times". What the U.S. government has to offer the countries that insist on a new resolution is still unclear. Even if Washington now wants to involve the UN more strongly, the supreme command is to remain with the USA in any case.

Criticism of the occupation policy is now coming from the military as well. As the "Washington Times" reported, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff admit in a secret study that the post-war plans were completely overhauled and flawed. The planners were not given enough time, "Phase IV", the reconstruction. From the report called "Operation Iraqi Freedom Strategic Lessons Learned" it also emerges that the Iraq war was already a done deal in August 2002.

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