Question Of The Month

Has time come to bring our troops home?

July 31, 2004

Q: Now that sovereignty in Iraq has been restored to Iraqi hands, how long should U.S. troops remain in that country?

As a peace activist, I demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, contractors and corporations from Iraq.

The so-called liberation of Iraq is a farce. More than 900 U.S. soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians are already dead in the war in Iraq.

How many more must die in this quagmire?

The situation is dire, both for the occupiers and the occupied. A pull-out is inevitable, so why not do it immediately? Which husband, wife, daughter, son, brother or sister will be the last to die?

Continuing the occupation means further death, devastation and destruction and invites unprecedented enmity from the Arab world.

To rebuild international trust, the occupations of both Iraq and Palestine must end.

However, the United States would still be obligated to fund the reconstruction of Iraq and fulfill the needs of its people.

The United Nations could provide oversight of the process and take on the role of bringing about the stability Iraq would need to hold free elections.

Max Obuszewski


In the first 13 days following the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq, 31 U.S. troops were killed in action. That just slightly exceeds the average of about 55 per month over the first 16 months of the conflict.

The Department of Defense estimates that military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cost $3.9 billion per month. By that conservative figure, just another year of occupation will cost taxpayers $46.8 billion.

So-called realists claim we must "defend democracy" in Iraq, if only to protect U.S. interests in the region.

But the continued occupation of Iraq draws even moderate Muslims to a defensive jihad like the one that drove the Soviets from Afghanistan.

Rather than chase insurgents, we should deprive extremists of this pretext for terrorist attacks.

By immediately ceasing offensive operations, then completing an orderly withdrawal of all forces by the end of the year, we would take a step toward stability in Iraq.

Dan Peightel


Even though I still think it was a bad idea to invade Iraq without an international consensus supporting and assisting us, I think that we will be morally obligated to stay there for years to come.

Iraq's current security crisis is a direct result of our misguided meddling.

We have unleashed ancient ethnic and religious rivalries, and our invasion has given religious terrorists a reason to ally themselves with Saddam Hussein's remaining supporters, something they never would have done before.

However, we must swallow our pride, admit our mistakes, and get as much help from NATO and the United Nations as we can. This would lend legitimacy to our presence and spread the cost of this boondoggle that President Bush has gotten us into.

It's a long shot, but Iraq could emerge from this debacle a better place, if we do not cut and run when the work stops being glamorous, and if we can find the humility to let someone else run the show.

Only when Iraqis can freely live, work, play and vote in safety can our troops come home and proclaim "Mission Accomplished."

Carl Aron


The answer to this month's question is quite simple.

U.S. troops should stay in Iraq for exactly as many days as they should have been there in the first place: none.

Bill Blackwell


Before the war, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell reportedly warned President Bush that if he broke Iraq, he would own it.

Now we are diplomatically obligated to repay the Iraqi people for the damage the war and the ensuing terrorism have caused to that country.

While the Iraqi people are rightly glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein, what they want most now is a country in which their lives are not in great peril because of rampant terrorism.

When the time comes that, through our training and support of Iraqi forces, we can make the Iraqi people at least as safe to carry out their daily lives as they were prior to our invasion, and we have rebuilt the country's infrastructure to at least as good a condition as it was prior to our invasion, then and only then should we even consider having our troops leave Iraq.

Ideally, we should keep our troops there as long as is necessary to ensure that Iraq becomes a model of self-government in the Middle East -- a nation that is at peace and that affords liberty and justice to all, as determined by the Iraqi people themselves.

Dennis Myers


Troops should remain in Iraq until the job is complete -- just like in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Joseph J. Gutierrez


The United States should get out of Iraq immediately. It is clear to me that the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation were illegal under international law and our Constitution.

To fail to withdraw would set a bad precedent for future administrations -- suggesting that they can act with impunity. If our excuse to occupy Iraq is based on Iraq's instability, well, we made it that way.

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