The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Doug Gordon (202) 822-5200

Celebration, Fear and Loathing On National Sovereignty Day


Former Congressman Tom
Andrews, National Director of the Win Without War Coalition, issued the
following statement today:

Today marks a
new a national holiday in Iraq, the "Day of National
Sovereignty". Iraqis are celebrating with music and dancing as
U.S. combat forces continue their pull-out of Iraqi
cities and turn
security responsibility over the Iraqi government.

Don't be
surprised, however, if the spike in violence that came in advance of this
milestone continues, or even escalates. And back here at home, don't be
surprised if the right-wing continues to play politics with the war and goes on
the attack with its favorite weapon-fear.

Former Vice
President Dick Cheney didn't wait for the security turnover to occur in
Iraq before he was on the attack,
second guessing the military withdrawal plan that his own administration
negotiated and approved.
Bold headlines in this morning's Washington
declare that the former Vice President "fears" that the
U.S. withdrawal will "waste all the
tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point."

I would bet
the farm (if I still had one) that the former Vice President and his right-wing
talking-heads are going to use this increase in violence, and any future
increases, as part of their national security attack narrative on President
Obama and the Democrats. It will go something like this: First the President
wanted to allow detainees from Guantanamo to be
released into U.S. neighborhoods. Now he wants all
the security gains achieved in Iraq-and the sacrifices that made it
possible-to go to waste.

Be afraid, be
very afraid.

violence did spike in Iraq as today's milestone approached,
and there is every reason to believe that it will continue. Why? Not because
U.S. combat forces are leaving Iraqi
cities, as Cheney and his cronies would have us believe. It is because the Iraqi
government has failed to make the political compromises required to achieve
stability and security.

Exhibit A:
. While Iraqis celebrate National Sovereignty Day, Iraq's Oil
Ministry is auctioning eight contracts to service six oil and two natural gas
fields. The problem is that Iraq still does not have a law in
place to provide for an equitable distribution of its oil revenue. "There's a
majority opinion inside Parliament that opposes these bids," Iraqi legislator
Alia Nusaif told the Washington Post last week. The Kurdistan Regional
Government has criticized the sale and has begun to commercially produce oil
locally after signing two dozen of its own gas and oil development deals that
the al-Maliki government calls illegal. Arab and Kurdish tension over oil
revenues is near the breaking point.

Exhibit B:
Awakening Councils.
The Sunni Awakening Councils, largely credited with the
reduction of violence in key Iraqi cities like Mosul, were made three promises
if they would start shooting with government and U.S. forces and not
at them: money ($300 per month), the promise of incorporation into
the national police, and that the government would stop arresting and harassing
their leaders. What happened? So far, less than 5% of Awakening Council
militiamen have been incorporated into the national police, the al-Maliki
government stopped paying them altogether (until intense U.S. pressure reversed
the policy), and the government has continued rounding up and arresting
Awakening Council leaders. Last month, the New York Times reported that
two very prominent Sunni Awakening Council leaders were arrested in Diyala Province. Another leader told the
Times that they believed arrest warrants had been issued for more than
1,000 Sunni tribal figures and council members.

The fact is
that, given the political upheaval that continues unabated in
Iraq, it should come as no surprise
to anyone that violence will persist and even increase. What better way for the
Iraqi opposition to demonstrate that the President they feel has double crossed
them is not the source of security he claims to be? But that is
where sovereignty comes in. Sovereign governments face the consequences of
their own decision making-or lack thereof-even when it leads to fractures,
instability or worse.

The bottom
line is that our men and women in uniform should not be stuck in the middle -
and literally in the line of fire - of the consequences of these political
failures. More than 4,300 have made the ultimate sacrifice and tens of thousands
have been severely injured. The number of innocent Iraqis killed is in excess of

What worries
me is not the predictable violence in Iraq, but the fact that tens of
thousands of our troops will continue to be on the front lines as so-called
"advisers". Despite the headlines that our troops have left the cities, more
than 10,000 U.S. troops remain to serve as
"trainers" for Iraqi
forces. And that number is expected to rise to 50,000 U.S. troops.
These forces will include not only U.S. trainers, but U.S. troops to
protect those trainers from their Iraqi trainees. Not the kind of job that
I would want as the fallout from the political failures of the al-Maliki
administration continues to unfold on Iraqi streets. Nor is it the kind of
burden that our beleaguered troops should be required to bear.

There is no
military solution in Iraq, only a political one. And no
number of U.S. troops-combat, training or
"residual" -will make the political will for Iraqi government leaders to
negotiate, compromise and accommodate any closer to reality.

Unlike Dick
Cheney, I am not afraid that our troops are leaving Iraqi cities too soon. I'm
afraid they're not leaving soon enough.

Win Without War is a diverse network of activists and organizations working for a more peaceful, progressive U.S. foreign policy. We believe that by democratizing U.S. foreign policy and providing progressive alternatives, we can achieve more peaceful, just, and common sense policies that ensure that all people--regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion, or economic status--can find and take advantage of opportunity equally and feel secure.