My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

I'm posting the speech that I gave on Saturday at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in La Crosse.  This is where I stand:  it's time to bring our troops home from Iraq.  The war was a mistake to begin with, and it has wasted billions of dollars and thousands of lives.  

I'd be happy to discuss below.

As for me, I'm running for Congress in an open district here in Northeast Wisconsin.  We're best known for the Green Bay Packers and their green and gold, but, in political terms, this district is both red and blue.  It's is the swing area in a swing state, and this is the kind of district we need to carry to gain a majority in Congress.

Thank you, Democrats!

I was born on a dairy farm, but I wasn't born yesterday.  Anybody with their eyes open can see that we need change in this country.

We have a president whose short-sighted and cynical policies have mortgaged our future, and a rubber-stamp Congress that has failed to hold him to account.  We've seen our budget deficits explode in the last five years.  We've seen no action on health care while costs soar and millions of Americans go without care.  And we've seen scandal after scandal demonstrate that we have the best government money can buy.  This needs to change.

But there's one issue in particular that I want to talk about today.  I believe, like many in this room, that the Iraq war was a mistake to begin with.  It was planned in a fact-free environment and executed in a competence-free one.  This has nothing to do with our troops, who have performed incredibly well.  It has everything to do with the choices of President Bush and his senior advisors.

Bush lied to us about the case for war in Iraq.  He and his advisors ignored the advice of their own generals as to how many troops we'd need to secure the country.  They failed to plan for the aftermath of the invasion.  They failed to provide our troops with the body armor they needed.  And we've reaped the whirlwind for their recklessness and their incompetence.

The situation in Iraq is no better than it was two years ago.  All you need to know is that one of the first acts of the new Iraqi parliament was to vote each of its members two armored cars.  We've never had a plan in Iraq.  And we've wasted billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

That's why I called for Don Rumsfeld to resign more than six months ago.  And I was glad to see seven retired generals reach the same conclusion in recent months.  It's time for Rumsfeld to go.  

I've come to believe that it is also time for us to go.  Our troops have performed valiantly.  They've done everything we've asked them to do.  We've done everything we can in Iraq militarily.  The country is in a civil war, and we're caught in the middle.  Our military is bleeding.  And all we hear from George Bush is "trust me." There is no plan.  There never has been a plan.  It's time for us to redeploy.  It's time to let the Iraqis settle this themselves.  It's time for us to bring the troops home now.

Let me say just one more thing - Democrats care about our security.  I'm sick and tired of having my patriotism questioned because I believe that George Bush has made us less safe rather than more.  Silence is not patriotism, no matter what they say.

It's easy to be cynical when you look at what George Bush has done to this country.  But cynicism can too easily lead to apathy and to despair.  One of the things I learned growing up on the farm is that you work hard.  This is our year.  We need to work hard to bring the change this country desperately needs.  And we can do our part in Northeast Wisconsin.  

That's why I'm running.  And that's why I need your help.  Thank you.

Tags: Iraq, Jamie Wall, WI-08, Wisconsin (all tags)



Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq
What do you imagine the consequences will be of an wholesale withdrawal, and why would those consequences be better for the United States than staying?

  1. The "plan" didn't work in the first place - and never had any reality based hope of working.
  2. Americans will no longer continue to die there.
  3. The way things are now it'll take them at least two or three hundred years to get their weapons of mass destruction related program activities back up to speed.
by Michael Bersin 2006-06-12 08:41AM | 0 recs
What Political Consequences?

Articulating the political consequences would aid in the development of a constructive plan of withdrawal that is in the best interest of both the American and the Iraqi people.

Don't get me wrong. I agree that there are political consequences to an immediate and total withdrawal of our troops. I just don't see why our ground troops need to be there.

As Juan Cole says ( id=29333),

I think it's really dangerous just to up and leave altogether and allow Iraq to fall into civil war. People say the most amazing things. Like, "Well, Iraq is already in civil war, so why would it matter if we left?" No! No! No! This is the stage before proper civil war. The difference is a matter of scale. You have hundreds of people a week being killed by guerrilla violence in Iraq. That's different from thousands of people, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands. I mean we've seen it in other countries -- Cambodia, Afghanistan, Congo -- you can lose a fifth of the population in this kind of struggle. I think it's outrageous that people would say, "Let's just up and leave and let what happens happen." I know the Bush administration has mismanaged this thing so badly that one's tempted to say, let's get them away from this before they do any more damage, but do we want a genocide on our conscience?

I know one person who said, "Well, once we're out, whatever happens is not our responsibility." Is it really true? You can invade a country, overthrow its government, dissolve its military, and then walk away, and a million people die, and that's not your problem? I don't understand this way of thinking.

by misscee 2006-06-12 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

Thank You.  And damn right we should get out. Whatever we have done has been wrong. Try doing the opposite, George.

What the Right Wing will do now is find people to blame.  

Like it is the Dixie Chicksm fault we are hated, and not the fact that we lied to invade.

Mind Boggling.

by skeeters 2006-06-12 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

I expect them to be much the same as they would be in five years - the sectarian violence isn't going to stop unless the Iraqis themselves strike a political deal to do so.  Right now, we don't have enought troops to stablize the country, and we have too many troops to make Iraqi politicians take the prospect of standing on their own seriously.  The Kurds in the north have most of what they want already, as do the Shia in the south.  The borders of the Sunni center of the country, including Baghdad, will see a lot of unrest.  But this will happen in any event.

I didn't come to this position easily, and I wasn't here six months ago.  But we're going to have to leave at some point, whether six months or six years from now.  I don't think we can stamp out the sectarian violence there.  The question is how many soldiers we lose and how many dollars we spend before we leave.

by Jamie Wall for Congress 2006-06-12 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

What is your stance on Afghanistan? Shall we continue fighting the Taliban or letting them take over the country, and perhaps the entire region?

by Populism2008 2006-06-12 03:28PM | 0 recs
Go Jamie

The war makes me ill, I can hardly think about it without having nightmares. Like 35 years ago with Vietnam, and some of the same bums who were never properly chastened -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest. I will never accept that this is what America is about, any more than I did then.

This is a gustsy, forward position to take in the WI 8th CD in the northeast around Green Bay, not prototypically liberal, but open to progressive messages and having Dem reps in the not far distant past. Not a dumb position by any means, because so many people are looking for this kind of leadership.

The anti-gay marriage amendment our wingnut leg put on the ballot may actually work against them, I know I'll be out on the street against that with my daughter.

I've been following and contributing to Jamie for some time and encouraged him to engage the netroots like this, so was pleasantly surprised to see this diary . We have a chance to win this seat and push the Wisconsin delegation our way (4-4 now). Give him some love.

by MikeB 2006-06-12 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: What Political Consequences?

I'm not saying we leave the pots boiling on the stoves in our bases and run for the border.  We need a plan and a short timetable for a transition - the deadline that Sen. Feingold and others have advanced is the end of this year - and we would obviously phase our withdrawal in a way that protects our troops and gives the Iraqi government the best chance of maintaining order.

We're facing a situation in which our troops are dying mostly in a effort to protect their own supply lines.  I don't believe we can stamp out the sectarian violence - only a political deal from the Iraqis can do that - and I'm convinced that we cannot sustain the operation as we are running it today.  We will break our military if we try to do so.

by Jamie Wall for Congress 2006-06-12 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

Agreed. And it's horribly selfish. First we bomb their country to pieces. Then we leave a civil war and possibly a Taliban-style occupation after us.

We have a moral obligation to bring peace, stability and democracy to Iraq. I'm so tired of liberals acting like isolationist "America first" paleocons.

by Populism2008 2006-06-12 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

I could never be a politician, and when I read a comment like this, I feel both respect and sympathy for someone like Jamie Wall who is willing to become a public servant.  What kind of restraint must that require?  How could one not say, "Go fuck yourself, you stupid douchebag" to a comment like this?

So many people have been so indoctrinated by neoconservative ideology, even progressive bloggers, it shouldnt suprise me that they cant recognize their own brainwashed bullshit.  For instance, when a pack of self-absorbed self-righteous assholes have the audacity to discuss what is best for the people of Iraq, as if it is a domestic US policy debate, without ever once considering what the Iraqi people want.  

Apparently, Populism thinks that the Iraqi people should be beaten into submission and accept a US occupation, and the travesty of democracy that this occupation is shitting out onto them.  Ironic, however, that 80% of the people of Iraq want the US out of Iraq.  If the US was really going to bring democracy, the first thing that the empowered Iraqi people would do is end the occupation.  But the US has never wanted that.  The neoconservatives who have taken over this country want a permanent military presence in an oil-rich Persian Gulf nation.  So we play lip service to democracy and fighting the bad guys, while we slowly position ourselves in order to establish a permanent military presence.

And you want to talk to me about moral obligations?  And being selfish?  Well, maybe it's because I am a simple isolationist paleocon, but I feel the need to say, go fuck yourself.  

by Winston Smith 2006-06-12 10:15PM | 0 recs
Then do something about it ignore the political consequences in the Middle East that would be caused by the United States' withdrawal is to be as naive as the Bush administration was in the first place...
Like those who beat the drum for this war (yes, I am aware that you didn't do so), you too have an option in assisting in the possible solutions to the mess which don't include immediate withdrawal.

...We have a moral obligation to bring peace, stability and democracy to Iraq. I'm so tired of liberals acting like isolationist "America first" paleocons...

And yes, you (if you are of a certain age) do indeed have a several different ways to excercise your moral obligation in this regard.

by Michael Bersin 2006-06-13 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

"I'm so tired of liberals acting like isolationist 'America first' paleocons."

This statement is somewhat typical of two major fallacies in neoconservative rhetoric.

First, it implies a false "limited choice" between fighting foreign wars and being isolationist.  We can, and have, engaged in global affairs without fighting wars.

Second, there's an equally false implication that isolationism is a key facet of liberalism.  The opposite is actually the case.  (Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, Clinton...)

As to "moral obligation," at what point would does Iraq become morally obligated to get its own affairs in order?  

by Jeff Huber 2006-06-13 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq
There's video from the speech here:
by fox river 2006-06-12 04:01PM | 0 recs
Re: My call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq

Your call for immediate withdrawal appears to make sense because we are long past the military phase in Iraq.  Ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government, Iraq's need has been and continues to be civil society where basic community services and institutions must function. The 'stay the course' strategy is a failure. There is excessive waste and fraud in the reconstruction effort, also known as 'nation building'.  We're talking BILLIONS of dollars the Administration cannot account for. So we have a failed 'nation building' strategy.

Iraqis have at most 3 hours of electricity a day and no clean running water.  With this backdrop, we're building a fortress-like Embassy in Baghdad with a swimming pool, its own power supply and clean water system.  We're building 14 new bases with movie theatres, atm's, burger kings.  It is suggested the failed and corrupt 'nation building' program coupled with the US construction of 14 bases and a fortress embassy are but fueling the insurgents anger at the Americans where US forces become the target of their frustrations.

My question is, along with your call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, what might your thoughts be regarding the non-military needs of Iraq and what role might you envision for the US?  For example,

  •  governance & political system
  •  civil society
  •  economy and infrastructure
  •  international cooperation

What might your thoughts be about funding these construction efforts (fortress embassy, 14 new bases)?

by fresh aire 2006-06-12 07:11PM | 0 recs


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