ANSWER Coalition responds
to President Obama's speech on Iraq

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Watch the television interview with
Brian Becker, National Coordinator
of the ANSWER Coalition, on the troop
"withdrawal" from Iraq.

It is necessary to separate fact from fiction regarding the announcement by the Obama administration that it is removing "combat brigades" from Iraq.

This is not the time for progressive people to pat themselves on the back, claim "victory" and pretend that the U.S. government is pursuing a different policy than that which was carried out by the previous administration.

Today's announcement that renames the 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq is nothing more than the rebranding of the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq that began with the criminal invasion of the country by hundreds of thousands of U.S. forces on March 20, 2003. Let's remember, the goal of the Bush administration, too, was not to keep a certain number of U.S. troops in Iraq forever, but instead to exercise U.S. domination over the country and the region.

The Obama administration has maintained the principal military and civilian leaders from the Bush administration. The withdrawal of some combat brigades from Iraq is essentially a redeployment exercise so that tens of thousands more U.S. troops can be sent to Afghanistan.

Since Bush left office, and contrary to the deep desire of the masses of people who constituted the electoral base for President Obama’s November 2008 victory, the U.S. military machine has grown, not diminished. The U.S. military budget has actually increased, not decreased.

The ongoing occupation of Iraq, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, the increasing threats against Iran, and the enduring U.S.-Israeli war directed against the Palestinian people are all clear indicators that U.S. foreign policy and its military strategy are premised on the pursuit and maintenance of Empire regardless of whether the Democrats or the Republicans occupy the White House.

When he delivered his major address in Cairo on June 4, 2009, President Obama described the war in Iraq as a "war of choice." That is simply popular vernacular for a war of aggression. The reality of his position, however, was revealed today when President Obama actually called George W. Bush to confer with him in advance of tonight's address on Iraq. Tonight, President Obama took the occasion to salute Bush as a "patriot" with "love of country and commitment to our security." George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other high officials in the Bush administration should be indicted and prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq has shredded Iraqi sovereignty and "succeeded" in killing as many as 1 million Iraqis. The invasion and ongoing occupation has succeeded in ripping apart a once-united country. It is the U.S. invasion that stoked a sectarian civil war. It was a deliberate and conscious policy by the U.S. occupation forces to organize, finance and arm Iraqis along ethno-sectarian lines in order to weaken the nationwide resistance of the people against foreign occupation.

The thousands of organizers and volunteers who have worked with the ANSWER Coalition in organizing mass protests and nearly daily activities in cities throughout the country for the past nine years believe that the U.S. should end all of its foreign occupations, and that the people in Iraq and Afghanistan must have the right of self determination.

The struggle for jobs, social justice, equality and freedom at home cannot be separated from the international struggle against empire, colonialism and war. Last Saturday, Glenn Beck and the forces of right-wing racism tried to hijack the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the millions of people who fought, organized—including for some going to jail and giving their life—in the struggle against racism at home and war abroad. We must take note of the fact that the forces of right-wing racism and militarism are mobilizing throughout the country. Their demagogic attacks against the Obama administration are nothing more than a cover for their real agenda.

We in the ANSWER Coalition believe that it is imperative that all those in the anti-war movement, labor and civil rights movements and others come together in a massive mobilization on Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C., for jobs, peace and justice. Only the mobilization of the people, and not the politicians, can radically change the political climate. When we march together on Oct. 2, we must raise high the banners of "U.S. out of Iraq now," "End the occupation of Afghanistan Now" and "Money for jobs, schools, health care and housing, not war and occupation."

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