View From Lodi, CA: On Memorial Day, A Call To Exit Iraq
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Since Memorial Day, 2006, nearly 1,000 more U.S. soldiers have been killed during the Iraq War. According to the Department of Defense, the total as of May 22nd is 3,422.

The loss of those young lives was sadly predictable. And if, as seems likely, the war is still raging next Memorial Day, we will have buried another thousand of our troops.

Americans are totally fed up with the war and its masterminds…namely President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their staunchest Cabinet ally Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In a slightly comforting development, two other warmongers, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Assistant Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz have been dispatched. They are gone but not forgotten.  

The war is unspeakably sad. Conceived in lies and carried out in ignorance and defiance, it has done nothing but create bloodshed and tragedy.

And the cruel joke is that the war is waged in the name of democracy. According to Bush, our intention is to introduce to Iraq a democratic government.

In June 30, 2004 the United States "transferred sovereignty" to Iraq. Americans were told that this was a great victory for the democratic process.

But look at the sorry example that Bush as leader of the free world has set since then. Despite the fact that in November 2006 Americans elected a new Congress because of their disgust with the war, an unrepentant Bush refuses to exercise the people's will. He vetoed a bill calling for gradual troop withdrawal that reflects a majority of the public's anti-war opinion.

Although the veto represents a setback for war critics, the heat on Bush to come up with something other than the status quo remains intense. Namely, the pressure is on him to develop a withdrawal plan even if it is a limited one.

No sane person evaluating Iraq today can conclude that the Iraqi people will tolerate a long-term American military presence. We have already been in Iraq too long.

Any future U.S. policy in Iraq has to be measured in terms of risk and reward. And the question that must be asked is whether the U.S. by continuing its occupation has a reasonable chance of creating peace in Iraq?

The short answer is "No!"

In a statement with which I agree, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski declared last year that the United States could never achieve its goals of a democratic, stable and peaceful Iraq unless the American people were prepared to "commit 500,000 troops, spend [US] $200 billion a year, probably have a draft," and have some form of wartime taxation. Brzezinski conceded that Americans "are not prepared to do that."

And since Americans aren't prepared to do any of the tough things necessary to win a military victory in Iraq, the only choice left is withdrawal —gradual though it may be.

The U.S. can easily deflect any boasting by jihadists that they "won". In rebuttal to such charges, the U.S. should point to the removal of Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator, as a major triumph.

Furthermore, the U.S. can claim that it is leaving Iraq as a sign of good faith that it has no intentions of "occupying" the country permanently.

On this Memorial Day, our only concern must be sparing more young soldiers their death in a futile war.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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