Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I what follows is a letter I am presenting to Rep. Gillmor's office tomorrow. I will be meeting with him next Friday.

Dear Representative Gillmor

I am writing you to express my opposition to the planned troop escalation in Iraq. In light of the news that Great Britain intends to start a withdrawal of at least some of its forces and other nations with smaller forces are considering a total withdrawal of their forces. It begs the question, why are we escalating ours?

Sending approximately 21,000 extra troops to increase our forces in Iraq to about 150,000 will, according to most experts, accomplish little. We have had about 150,000 troops in Iraq before and it did not make Iraq any safer for either our forces or the Iraqi people. So at best this escalation can be seen as an easy solution to a much more difficult problem. At worst it can be seen as putting 21,000 soldiers unnecessarily into harm’s way.

We need to not escalate our forces but rather to use them in a different capacity. The Baker Commission suggested we need to start pulling our troops back and using them to train Iraqi forces and I agree. If Iraq ever has any hopes of being truly free it must learn to solve its problems with its own people. Is the US presence there thought of as an irritant by the Iraqis? If the Shi’ites and the Sunnis have such long standing religious intolerance for one another no amount of foreign military might will solve it. Only the Sunnis and the Shi’ites can resolve these issues. We might be able to assist in negotiations but armored divisions and cavalries are hardly the stuff of negotiations.

We need to follow the British example and start to withdrawal in addition to the reassignment of American forces. If there weren’t the American troops to attack, then we might see the violence abate. If the Iraqis were left to forge their own destiny we might be surprised how well they might do. However as long as the US military is seen as an occupying force we might never see any change. Also polls have shown that most Iraqis would like us to leave and that most view us occupiers rather than liberators. If we are there to help establish a democracy shouldn’t we take heed of the Iraqi people’s will?

I also think Congress and the military need to rethink this concept of the War on Terror. If this is as President Bush has suggested a long war without the victories we are accustomed to from past conflicts, then maybe we need a whole new way to fight it. If we are no longer fighting nations but rather rouge factions, then maybe we need to fight without occupations and large numbers of troops. If our enemy has so drastically changed from large empires with vast military force and highly productive industry to one that hides in the shadows and uses improvised weapons and sneak attacks then maybe we ought to reconsider our strategy as well.

I write you only as a citizen who is concerned that his country is not acting in manner that is best for both its citizens and the rest of the world. I know there are no easy answers but to find any answers we need to ask the hard questions.


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