||In These Times has published an article by Chris Toensing called "Why Exiting Iraq Won't Be Easy."
Dahlia Wasfi, an Iraqi-American doctor who testified last month before a Congressional hearing on exiting Iraq, has drafted the following reply:
It will be a blessing for Iraq when the last American soldier, mercenary, and businessman leave Iraq. It will not be a â€œnoble course of actionâ€ for after invading a country illegally and killing hundreds of thousands in a textbook case of colonialism, weâ€™ve lost the right to even think the word â€œnoble.â€ And I agree that it wonâ€™t be a â€œpanacea for Iraqâ€™s ills.â€ But it will be the first step in the right direction. And it is easy. Ask anyone whoâ€™s been in Iraq, and I donâ€™t mean the Green Zone.
I visited my family in southern Iraq for 3 months between December 2005 and March 2006. I thought I knew what was going on there, but people who have lived their entire lives there donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on. There are at least 11 militias operating throughout the country. Iranians have flooded into Iraq, home to the 2 holiest Shiite shrines in Najaf and Karbala, under the banner of Islamic parties (and maybe one saying â€œMission Accomplishedâ€). Occupation forces are there. American CIA agents are there. And Israeli Mossad and military are operating from a heavily guarded base in northern Iraq. And we are training death squads as we did in Vietnam and El Salvador. Iraqis know that every day may be their last, and while any number of sources may pull the trigger, responsibility lies with the United States.
The concept of civil war and sectarian strife is well-described by Iraqi Sami Ramadani, a political refugee from Saddam Husseinâ€™s regime and senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University:
â€œIt is not withdrawal that threatens Iraq with civil war, but occupationâ€¦The occupationâ€™s sectarian discourse has acquired a hold as powerful as the WMD fiction that prepared the public for war. Iraqis are portrayed as a people who canâ€™t wait to kill each other once left to their own devices. In fact, the occupation is the main architect of institutionalised sectarian and ethnic divisions; its removal would act as a catalyst for Iraqis to resolve some of their differences politically.â€
Toensing describes the â€œinsurgencyâ€ as â€œroughly 20,000 Sunni Arab[s].â€ However, no uprising can last without popular support, and three and a half years after Baghdad fell, the legitimate resistance to our illegal occupation is alive and well. Toensing describes that sectarian violence worsened after the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra in late February, but the reality I saw on the ground didnâ€™t substantiate that.
The destroyed shrine was for Hassan Askari, descendant of the prophet Mohammed. In Islam, there is one God, Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger; and one holy book he scribed, the Quran. It is illogical that Sunni and Shia Muslims will target each otherâ€™s mosques, defile the prophet, or destroy passages from the Quran. Yes, hundreds of Iraqis died in the days that followed this particular crime, but who was directly responsible remains a mystery. In both Baghdad and Basrah, Sunni and Shiite clerics prayed in solidarity. And where were the occupation forces, whose job it is to effect security? For two days following the bombing, tanks that rolled by twice a day were absent; military planes came instead, and did nothing to stop the violence. Toensing writes â€œ[t]o be sure, the current conflict is historically rooted in the deposed regimeâ€™s repression.â€ But the Hassan Askari Shrine remained intact for the 30 years of Saddam Husseinâ€™s rule.
Many Iraqis want the tanks and planes to leave and electricity and water to stay. They want employment, security, and a decent quality of life. As scores of Iraqis die every day, it does not matter if you call it civil war, sectarian strife, or democracy; it isâ€”by designâ€”an American killing field, a smokescreen for stealing oil, and for establishing permanent military bases to defend American business interests. Bring the troops home, or send your own.
I would add:
Here's an argument:
1) The existence of international law is at stake. If the US does not get out soon and is not held accountable for it, then we will have established the right of any nation to aggressively attack any other. We must therefore get out regardless of what happens next.
2) The occupation is the primary source of the violence, much of which is directed at the occupiers and collaborators. Much of the sectarian violence is instigated by the occupation. As long as we stay, it will get worse. When we get out, it will get at least somewhat better. That process cannot begin until the US gets out.
3) Iraq is becoming a launching pad for attacks on Iran, Syria, and other states. Once we've attacked them, the arguments for responsibly continuing to occupy them will begin. The occupation of Iraq needs to end NOW, to prevent those attacks.
4) The Iraqi people want the US troops out, no matter what officials and gang leaders and collaborators have to say. The US people want the US troops out. Every hundred billion $ dumped into this massive crime is a hundred billion $ that could have been spent elsewhere (and in Iraq) saving and improving lives. Reconstruction and reparations do not require the presence of troops, but rather their absence.