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UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

'THE VIETNAM MOMENT IS AT HAND' IN IRAQ
AS THE DIMENSIONS OF THE CATASTROPHE BECOME CLEARER

October 19, 2006

For two and a half years now, it has been apparent to observers that United States policy in Iraq is counterproductive, exacerbating the very problems it purports to address.  The extraordinary dimensions of the catastrophe that the Bush administration has brought about in Iraq are now impossible to deny.  United for Peace of Pierce County calls on Americans to demand that U.S. troops be withdrawn from Iraq.

This week the distinguished British journalist Sir Simon Jenkins described the Iraqi catastrophe in these terms:  "A third of Iraq's professional class is reported to have fled to Jordan, a flight of skills worse than under Saddam. U.N. monitors now report 2,000 people a day are crossing the Syrian border.  Over a hundred lecturers at Baghdad University alone have been murdered, mostly for teaching women.  There are few places in Iraq where women can go about unattended or unveiled.  Gunmen arrived earlier this month at a Baghdad television station and massacred a dozen of the staff, an incident barely thought worth reporting.  The national museum is walled up.  Electricity supply is down to four hours a day.  No police uniform can be trusted.  The arrival anywhere of an army unit can be prelude to a mass killing and makes a mockery of the American policy of 'security transfer.'  All intelligence out of Iraq suggests that this is no longer a functioning state" (Guardian [U.K.], October 18, 2006).

The size of the disaster in Iraq for which the Bush administration is responsible staggers the imagination. On October 12, 2006, the Lancet a respected British medical journal, published a scientific study entitled "Mortality after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq:  A Cross-Sectional Cluster Sample Survey."  It concluded:  "We estimate that as of July 2006 there have been 654,965 (392,979-942,636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2.5% of the population in the study area.  Of post-invasion deaths, 601,027 (426,369-793,663) were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire."

Even the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan collection of éminences grises led by former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton that since March 2006 has been casting about for some way out of the disaster, has concluded that the U.S. must change its policy. The "Baker report," it was learned last week, will urge "that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents.  The goal of nurturing democracy in Iraq is dropped" (New York Sun, October 12, 2006).  The Sun also indicates that the report will call "for the phased withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq."

Simon Jenkins commented:  "The Baker report on an exit strategy from Iraq, leaked this week in the U.S., is as sensible as it is sensational.  It rejects 'staying the course' as no longer plausible and purports to seek alternatives to just 'cutting and running.'  Stripped of political sweetening, it concludes that there is none.  America must leave Iraq without preconditions and hope that its neighbors, hated Syria and Iran, can clear up the mess.  This advice comes not from some antiwar coalition but from the Iraq study group formed under the former Republican secretary of state, James Baker, set up by Congress with President George Bush's endorsement.  Students of Iraq studies should at this point sit down and steady their nerves.  Kissinger is in Paris.  The Vietnam moment is at hand."

UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."