The Courage To Withdraw

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CommonDreams.org

The Courage To Withdraw

by
Robert Naiman

"Cut and run, cut and run," taunt the Congressional supporters of the President, suggesting that those who want to withdraw from Iraq are cowards.

But maybe those who want to stay are the cowards. Maybe those who want to walk away from a fight that isn't theirs and isn't benefiting them or anyone else are the brave ones.

"In the opening minutes of Joseph Cedar's new film 'Beaufort,'" AFP reports, "three Israeli soldiers hunker down behind concrete blast walls and talk about what brought them to an isolated mountaintop fortress in Lebanon. 'If you are here, you are here by mistake,' one doomed soldier says to a new arrival sent to defuse a roadside bomb. 'I wanted to be here. That was the mistake.'"

The movie has set records for an Israeli film by attracting more than 135,000 viewers in its first weeks. Its director says he hopes his movie will cause Israelis and their American supporters to think about how Israel uses its military prowess in the region. "I thought that the withdrawal from Lebanon signaled that Israel is a state where they are confident enough not to hold onto certain iconic mountains because they know that we're strong enough, our value system is just enough and we don't need our flag to show it," the director says.

I share his hope. But I also hope that watching this movie about the Israeli experience would encourage Americans also to think about how America uses its military prowess in the region - not just in Iraq, but in threatening Iran.

Many Americans are ready for a new direction, not just the folks who ordinarily follow foreign policy and not just with respect to Iraq.

Candidates won "cheers and standing ovations from the Building and Construction Trades union when they attacked President Bush's Iraq policy and committed themselves to ending the war," the Boston Globe reports. "'This war is a mess. We should bring the troops home now!' shouted Representative Dennis Kucinich , bringing the blue-collar crowd to its feet in raucous applause... By contrast, House minority leader John Boehner ...was booed loudly when he spoke in favor of the war. 'If we don't fight them [in Iraq], we will be fighting them here in America,' Boehner said, before the audience shouted him down."

The Building Trades historically have the reputation of being a conservative force within organized labor. But Edward Sullivan, president of the builders union, said many in the union's membership, which he described as about 30 to 35 percent Republican, counted Iraq as a major voting issue. "We have a lot of members with a son or daughter over there who are coming back injured, coming back without feet or legs. They need to come home."

Are the members of the Building Trades cowards, Mr. President? No way. They are brave Americans. Raise your glass today, America, and tip your hat to the Building Trades. The President needs to hear their call.

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