Revolution #68, November 5, 2006
Active-Duty GIs Call for End to U.S. Occupation of Iraq
A group of active-duty soldiers have launched a public campaign calling for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and an end to the U.S. occupation. According to the organizers of the campaign, more than 200 active duty had signed the online “Appeal for Redress” as of October 27, and the number has been growing daily.
The Appeal states: “As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and it is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.” (appealforredress.org)
According to appealforredress.org, “The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.”
The Pentagon itself has estimated that 8,000 soldiers have gone AWOL since the Iraq war began in 2003. There have been some high-profile cases of GI resistance—including the case of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. Watada is facing over 8 years in prison and waiting to hear whether the Army will try him in a court martial.
One of the appeal organizers, Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto, is quoted on the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) website stating, “We write on behalf of active duty service members to ask you to engage in a worldwide effort to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home.” A Reuters article quoted Hutto saying that a “similar appeal during the Vietnam War drew support from over 250,000 active duty service members in the early 1970s.”
Another organizer, Marine Sergeant Liam Madden, told the San Jose Mercury News, “The more informed I got, the more I opposed the war… The more people who died there, the longer we stayed there, the more I opposed the war. The more I know, the easier it is to support withdrawal.”
The appeal seeks to take advantage of military regulations and protections under current U.S. law allowing GI’s to communicate directly to Congress to redress grievances. The “Rights Under Law” section on the Appeal website points out legal rights and limitations of soldiers to dissent and protest, including to the right to attend demonstrations, as long as they are “off base, off duty, and out of uniform.”
This effort—and other resistance within the military—comes at a time of growing problems for the U.S. in Iraq, including the U.S. military’s inability to control the situation even in Baghdad. There is growing opposition to the war throughout society and sharpening debate in the ruling class. The U.S. atrocities and war crimes in Iraq continue to mount: The medical journal Lancet recently published a study by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health documenting that more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a consequence of the U.S. occupation between March 2003 and July 2006. And October saw the highest one-month total of U.S. soldiers killed (96 as we go to press) in Iraq in at least a year.
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