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Tens of Thousands of U.S. Troops in Iraq AFTER 2011?

March 30, 2009

“Anti-American war” protests in Iraq against U.S. occupation held last November.

Contrary to popular belief, the war and occupation of Iraq is far from over.

BUT here’s the thrilling news: for the very first time Obama announced that the U.S. would *COMPLETELY* withdraw from Iraq by December 31, 2011.

Obama never said that before–though most Americans were led to believe he was calling for complete withdrawal on the campaign.

As Obama said, “under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.”

But there is a lot of pressure on Obama to cave and maintain U.S. military dominance in Iraq for time immemorial. When Secretary Gates was asked about his estimate of what the U.S. military presence would look like after 2011 (correct answer would be: non-existent) he said: “my guess is that you’re looking at perhaps several tens of thousands of American troops.”

One of the great untold stories of the Iraq war is that Iraqis transformed this so-called Status of Forces Agreement from being one of indefinite occupation from which the U.S. would dominate the Middle East, to becoming an Agreement for complete withdrawal.

Now in order to make sure this happens, we need to get Congress to vote on the agreement and to affirm that all U.S. troops would be gone by December 31, 2011.

This is also important for another reason. As Christine points out below, its not enough to be against the Iraq war.

If Congress isn’t on the record weighing in on this so-called Status of Forces Agreement/Withdrawal Agreement with Iraq, President [whomever] in the future can, by an executive decision alone, commit U.S. troops to wage war for 8 years (which will be the length of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq), or 80 years.

Erica Alini from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation wrote this brilliant blog post explaining the profound urgency for Congress to approve the Agreement with Iraq–even if its only a resolution just endorsing the 2011 complete withdrawal date. As she points out:

The persistent failure to consult Congress on an agreement that affects U.S. involvement in Iraq threatens the constitutional balance between the executive and legislative branches and sets a dangerous precedent for future American military engagement abroad.

Former Senators Obama, Clinton, and Biden, all supported legislation that would require that any security agreement with Iraq is approved by Congress.

Take action here to ask your members of Congress to call on the administration to submit the SOFA/Withdrawal Agreement with Iraq to Congress.

Reasserting the role of Congress in war is a great way to work against endless occupation and war in Iraq and prevent endless U.S. occupation and war in other countries around the globe. It’s another form of peaceful prevention of deadly conflict–when our own government causes that deadly conflict.

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