WASHINGTON - Statement by Former Congressman and National Director of Win Without War:
President Bush spoke of his commitment to democracy in Iraq today while defying the will of more than two-thirds of the Iraqi people who oppose the presence of U.S. troops in their country. His unwillingness to announce a plan to remove U.S. troops within a clear time frame and his refusal to renounce the use of permanent U.S. military bases there undermines his rhetoric about Iraqi democracy and will undermine the legitimacy of the new Iraqi government.
While most Iraqis are confident in Thursday’s parliamentary elections, two-thirds are opposed to the presence of U.S. troops according to a poll released today by ABC News and Time Magazine. Oxford Research International conducted the poll in face-to-face interviews with 1,711 Iraqis.
The Bush administration has been undermining democracy in Iraq in much the same way it as done so at home – manipulating and distorting the information its citizens need to have an open and honest debate. On the day that President Bush made his “Plan for Victory” speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, the Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. government is paying for fake news in Iraqi newspapers secretly written by a Pentagon contractors. Distortions and manipulations of the truth was key to the Bush administration campaign to sell the invasion of Iraq to the American people. Now it is undermining the Iraqi democracy that the president praises in Philadelphia.
Rami Khouri, Editor-at-large of the Beirut based regional newspaper The Daily Star made it clear in yesterday’s Washington Post that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is the main obstacle to a politically legitimate Iraqi government:
“The single most important thing Iraq needs today is a politically legitimate government, from which security and other attributes on national and social normalcy would follow. America’s military presence and its political intervention in Iraq are the main obstacles to such a government and to a secure society in that country. Withdrawing U.S. military forces would prod and push Iraqis to agree more quickly on an inclusive and, ideologically, democratic government system.”
The way out of Iraq begins by genuine respect for the will of the Iraqi people and their desire for a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq. The president can begin to demonstrate this respect by putting an end to the attempted manipulation of Iraqi public opinion with fake news written by Pentagon contractors, the unambiguous announcement that the U.S. will not maintain permanent military bases there, and the immediate initiation of a coherent plan for the withdrawal of our forces in 2006. This will not only give vast majority of the Iraqi people what they want but the new Iraqi government its strongest chance for success.