WASHINGTON -- November 12 -- The leader of the nations largest anti-war coalition today called on Congress to take a close and honest look at the Bush Administrations Iraq policy before it votes on new appropriations, calling the current fighting a successful military effort that is becoming a massive political setback.
Tom Andrews, the former Congressman (D-ME) who heads Win Without War and served on the House Armed Services Committee, said victory in Falluja will create more problems than it solves. The attack on Falluja plays into the hands of the insurgency while undermining the prospects for credible democratic elections in January.
Andrews pointed to the withdrawal from the interim Iraq government of the most prominent Sunni political party, the call for an election boycott by Sunni clerics and increased attacks by insurgents in Baghdad and other parts of the country as evidence that the U.S. military action is undermining any chance of holding legitimate elections.
There is no question that U.S. military superiority can eventually lead to the conquest and re-occupation of Falluja, although it is disheartening to read that this week already 18 American solders and 5 Iraqis fighting at their side have been killed, with the battle far from over, said Andrews.
Just as the Administration failed to plan for the peace in Iraq, it has failed to develop an effective political solution there. There is no end to the fighting in sight. Elections in January, if they occur, will achieve very little at best unless we change course, he added.
Congress, said Andrews, should hold public hearings and reassess this dead-end strategy.
He cited a study last May by military analyst Anthony Cordesman, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which concluded: The U.S. can, of course, defeat the Iraqis. However, any military solution is now likely to be the kind of victory that creates a new firestorm of excessive force, civilian casualties and collateral damage.
Andrews faulted the Bush Administration for failing to listen to the man it chose to be the interim Iraqi president, as well as to advice from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan. Speaking in opposition to an attack on Falluja, President Ghazi al-Yawar likened it to someone firing bullets at his horses head because a fly landed on it. The horse died and the fly went away.
Kofi Anan said the use of force would deepen alienation among many Iraqis and strengthen an unwanted perception there of an unending U.S. military occupation.
The first principle in life is when you find yourself in a hole, you stop digging, said Andrews, but the Bush administration has decided instead to dig deeper, faster. Our attacks kill more Iraqis, civilian and others, which further alienates the Iraqi people and builds new support for the insurgency, said Andrews. That leads to more attacks and more casualties among our troops and more violence and chaos overall in Iraq.
This is a disaster of considerable consequence, Andrews said, and the attack on Falluja is only making it worse.