The vocal opposition to Bush’s “surge” strategy to send more than “20,000 additional troops to help secure Iraq has grown to include some of the troops themselves.” Some are speaking out and they are not happy…
A group of more than 50 active-duty military officers will deliver a petition to Congress on Tuesday signed by about 1,000 troops calling for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. “Any troop increase over here will just produce more sitting ducks, more targets,” said Sergeant Ronn Cantu, who is serving in Iraq.
Under the 1988 Military Whistleblower Protection Act, active duty military, National Guard, and Reservists may communicate with any member of Congress without fear of reprisal, even if copies of the communication are sent to others.
NEWSWEEK’s Capital Sources has picked up on this story and they have an interview with a “22-year-old Marine on why he wants Congress to bring the troops home.” Here’s a few quips:
In a sign of the erosion, more than 1,000 soldiers will urge their congressmen in a written appeal this week to “support the prompt withdrawal” of all American forces from Iraq. “Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price,” the statement says. Anti-war appeals are common these days but this one is different: all the signatories are active duty soldiers and some have served in Iraq.
One of the appeal’s organizers is Liam Madden, a 22-year-old Marine Corp. Sergeant now based Quantico, VA. He spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Dan Ephron. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: How did [the appeal] start?
Liam Madden: I was visiting a friend last summer stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, who found a flyer for a talk on being active duty and opposing the war. David Cortright, the author of “Soldiers in Revolt”, about [G.I.] dissent during the Vietnam era, gave the talk. I think people there all had one thing in common: We all thought that if you feel strongly about something, you can’t just rest on your laurels and hope things get better. You have to do something. We started coordinating with each other on how to affect change in Iraq.
What’s wrong with the [Iraq] war?
It’s a war we never should have launched in the first place. It’s been incompetently executed and it’s brought no benefit to anyone involved, including the American people and the Iraqis. It’s just people dying for no benefit.
What did you see in your seven months there?
The main mission of my unit was to patrol long stretches of road. I didn’t get to interact with people all that often. My primary job was ensuring communications went well…. But we cleared the city in Haditha and facilitated elections. To my discouragement, neither of those things really helped stabilize Iraq. I oppose the war in Iraq for reasons anyone who’s paying attention might oppose the war. It’s not that I came back traumatized. It’s an illegal war. It’s against U.N. Security Council resolutions we helped write. It’s costing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives and billion dollars. It’s unconscionable to me.
Read the full interview here. I don’t know what it will take for the Bush administration to stop burying their heads in the sand. When the troops come forward with this petition will it matter a hill of beans to them. Probably not. But, I do believe there are members of Congress that will listen, as there were in April 1971.
The tide is turning with members of Congress, including many Republican members of Congress. Let’s hope they listen to these soldiers who have been there on the front lines and know full well that it’s time to say enough is enough. It takes a lot of courage to stand and speak the truth to power. Even with the 1988 Military Whistleblower Protection Act, we all know full well, that there are those who won’t make it easy for them.