Staying in Iraq

To view the original art, please travel to Staying in Iraq

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

For the fifth week in a row, my toon deals with the war in Iraq.  While I don’t want to become a one-topic cartoonist, I feel it’s important to keep hammering on the Iraq issue during this election season.  While the candidates, media, and much of the nation have decided the economy is the top campaign issue, the war continues to take a huge toll in lives, limbs and treasure.

This latest cartoon deals with “The Numbers Game” that some play with U.S. casualty reports.  Yes, the 4,000-plus dead in Iraq is a small number compared to previous wars.  But nearly 30,000 more have been wounded, and many of these warriors would not have survived during previous conflicts.

According to Atul Gawande of Harvard University, 30 percent of U.S. troops wounded in World War II died from their injuries; that number has dropped to about 10 percent in Iraq, as body armor and faster and better medical care keep troops alive.  But these warriors are dealing with life-long injuries that include loss of limbs, brain damage and blindness.  To get a real sense of the human toll this war is taking on U.S. forces, the number of wounded needs to be a major consideration.

So I say again … President Bush and leaders in Congress: Support our troops by getting them the hell out of harm’s way.

U.S. fatalities top 4,000

To view the original art, please travel to U.S. fatalities top 4,000

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

I’m sending out my cartoon a day early this week to commemorate another grim milestone in the war in Iraq. Late Sunday, U.S. military fatalities in Iraq hit 4,000. That news barely made a ripple with the media, which seems to have again lost its way when it comes to watch-dogging this fiasco.

President Bush and leaders in Congress: Support our troops by getting them the hell out of harm’s way.

What It Means To Support Our Troops

Dr Drew Westen on How Democrats should frame their Positions

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Weeks ago, as I stood my post in support of peace, our soldiers, and all civilians worldwide, a young fellow stopped and asked me how could I do as I did.  The fellow declared my actions treasonous, disrespectful of the troops.  I replied.  I have family who served, and one about to enter the fray.  The man, visibly irritated, yelled as he pointed to other protesters. “What about them?” he said.   I began to explain how one of the women has a son stationed in Iraq, another . . . my voice trailed off as he waved in disgust.  Then, the inquisitive chap left.

It seems that many who advocate global harmony know not what to say when they are told to protest against the war is to dishonor those that serve our country.  Peace people could explain as Drew Westen, Psychology Professor, at Emery University has.  Doctor Westen offers, when George W. Bush declares we must continue to fight, and fund a futile battle built on false assumptions, Americans who care must respond . . .

Mr. President, do you want to know what it means to support our troops?

1. Don’t make the families take up a collection for their body armor.

2. Armor their Humvees so they don’t lose their lives or their limbs when they don’t need to.

3. Don’t send them into someone else’s civil war.

4. Don’t send them to war unless you would send your own children.

5. When they come home damaged  . . .when they come home with their bodies frayed from that war, don’t you dare warehouse them with cockroaches in Walter Reed Hospital.

6. When they come back to the shores that they will never see again after having given their life for this country, don’t wisk their bodies in the middle of the night because it’s good PR for people not to see their bodies. You proudly display their flag-draped coffins like every American president has done in American history before you.

7. Don’t you ever, ever write a letter to their parents, to their spouses, to their children — when they lost their lives for this country — with a mechanical pen. You write it your own hand so you feel what it means when they lost their lives for this country.

Do you really want to know what it feels like to support our troops?

Bring them home.

~ Drew Westen, Professor, Emory University, November 7, 2007

I thank you for the thought, for the guidance, for the wisdom you share, Professor Westen.  I hope all Americans will embrace the essence of your words.  It is time we truly show our support for soldiers, for the principles we hold dear.  Stop the killing. End the madness.  Exit Iraq; not possibly in the next five years, if then, but now.

Troops Out Now Coalition Calls for Citizen Action

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Many of you may feel as I do.  I wonder why does the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan continue.  I feel hopeless, even now with a Democratic majority in Congress.  In truth, I did not celebrate the Democratic win in November 2006.  For me, until actions are taken, and policies put into practice, I feel no reason to rejoice.  Currently, the Democratic majority is not doing much better than the Republicans did.  Conservatives are not inclined to impinge on the power of the President.  Centrists are concerned; dare they be thought too Left or Right.  The anti-war contingent is anxious.  Might they regret moving too far or too fast.

Each day while Congress patiently convenes, Americans sit comfortably in their cozy homes, apathetic or pounding away at the keys at their electrically powered computers, actively protesting the wars.  Meanwhile, civilians, children, and soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As citizens in this country ponder the blood spilled and scream, ‘We want justice,’ life [or death,] in the Persian Gulf goes on as it has for years. 

Bombs fall; bullets blaze, and bodies plummet to their death.  What were once daily rituals are doomed.  Citizens in the Middle East cannot find calm.  They may pretend to go about their day-to-day doings as they did in the past; however, they cannot.  In recent years, normal is avoiding sniper fire, finding shelter from shootings, scrupulously searching for suicide bombers, chatting while walking in a combat zone, or awaiting a home invasion.  Peace is merely a postulate.

Americans can make a difference.  Troops Out Now Coalition is calling for citizen action.  Tell members of Congress to cut off the funds.  Reach out to your Representatives in Washington and say, “Use the Power of the Purse!”  Troops Out Now Coalition invites each of us to participate in protests in Washington District of Columbia beginning March 12, 2007. 

Volunteering or contributing to the cause might make sense to you.  Whatever you choose please consider, Congress continues to delay. 

Currently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is focused on Party Unity.  Forget Iraq for a moment or more.  It may be months before the Democratic leadership thinks to use the power of the purse to end war efforts.  Pelosi claims to care, as Democrats do; however, the main mission seems to be consensus building.  In the minds of many “liberals,” we must stave off the idea of cutting funds for this futile battle.  The Progressives believe to appease the people they must demonstrate their unflinching support for the troops, while maintaining they are ardent in their fight against terrorism. 

“She has the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, a Pelosi loyalist who as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee is also a political realist.

Like Pelosi, herself a longtime critic of Bush’s decision to invade Iraq four years ago this month, Honda said the House has to take a step-by-step approach in what the Democratic leadership views as a showdown with the White House over the war.

“Being in the majority, we have to produce something that can pass muster not just in the House, but in the wider community. I’m impressed with her intensity in trying to achieve that,” Honda said.

So slowly, and patiently Congress perseveres.  They strategize, maneuver, and engage the President with nonbinding resolutions.  The Democratic House expresses their disapproval of the President’s plan, as though their disdain will affect a certain surge.

The first step in the strategy was last month’s nonbinding resolution expressing the House’s disapproval of Bush’s strategy to send more than 21,500 extra combat troops to Iraq to help quell sectarian violence in Baghdad.

The four-day House debate over that resolution, which was approved Feb. 16, was partly overshadowed by an interview given in the midst of it by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Pelosi’s closest House allies and, as chair of the military appropriations subcommittee, a key convert to the anti-war cause.

In the interview, broadcast on the Internet by the anti-war group, Murtha said his legislation for the $96 billion special spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would severely limit Bush’s ability to send units to Iraq.

The reaction was not exactly what Murtha or Pelosi expected. The White House and Republican congressional leaders said Murtha was a defeatist trying to abandon Iraq to terrorists. But more important was the wary reaction among moderate to conservative House Democrats, some of whom had defeated Republican incumbents in November in districts where voters were upset over the president’s conduct of the war but were not yet ready to pull the plug.

Ah yes; we need to continue pandering to the President and his perfect plan.  Spreading fear into the hearts of Americans is apt.  Congress must recall, those sitting snugly and safe in their American abodes know best.  Terrorism is a threatening reality, especially if you live, work, or fight in the Persian Gulf.  What of those men and women; can they wait as Congress calculates.  Do they want to?  Perhaps exiting Iraq immediately does not mater to the House Majority Leader.  Party unity is her priority.

The reaction also showed that Pelosi had to move carefully and artfully to keep the 233 Democrats together on the second step of her anti-war strategy — the spending bill to pay for the war through Sept. 30 that will come with conditions attached, if not exactly the ones Murtha originally wanted.

So began the selling job and the need to change Murtha’s proposal. Involved with Pelosi were senior Democratic leaders such as Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin, Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Together they wooed the party’s factions.

Gone from the spending bill were Murtha’s ironclad conditions for sending units to Iraq. The measure was watered down to provide Bush with the ability to publicly waive the deployment rules on training, equipment and time at home.

Weakening the measures so as not to offend the President will do little to secure an exit strategy.  Making resources and training less available to an already struggling military will not benefit the men or the women waiting a seemingly certain death.  Time at home, well that was treasure few thought they would claim.

Also written into the legislation — to lure the strongest anti-war elements — was a withdrawal schedule tied to a set of benchmarks for the Iraqi government to attain in the next few months. The Iraqi government’s failure to meet the benchmarks would trigger an immediate start of a U.S. force withdrawal. And in no case would any U.S. forces remain in Iraq past 2008.

Sigh!  Might this be a welcome sign of relief or is this too merely a mirage.  Perhaps it is.  the Congress seems to say we will exit Iraq, eventually, only to strengthen our surge into Afghanistan.

To show that Democrats are serious about fighting terrorism, the bill provides more money for operations in Afghanistan, which Pelosi said should be the main focus of antiterrorism operations.

And to show that House Democrats don’t want any more Bush military operations, they are considering adding language specifying that the president must return to Congress for a new authorization before any attack on Iran.

The latter might be thought of as a ray of hope; however, we all know . . .

Bush has already said he’ll veto the bill if it ever passes the House and the narrowly divided Senate and reaches him, but, if so, he runs the risk of not being able to pay for the war’s continuing operations.

The Democratic leadership also might allow its most vehement anti-war Democrats who make up the Out of Iraq Caucus to offer an amendment to their measure saying that no military funds can be used for anything other than withdrawing U.S. troops.

They might; however, again, I have no faith in the Congress.  The continue bureaucracy challenges beliefs.  What I observes is a Congress that woos, wanes, and waits, while the war continues.  Some say America is strong and resolute, or are they merely resigned to let George W. Bush stay the course?

We know that in years passed Congress has cut funding for wars and other worrisome efforts involving American engagement.  As I stated in The Price of Addiction. Bush and War,

I do not comprehend what moves Congress to act as they do.  Iraq war veterans are against this war.  Some of these soldiers were elected to office in hopes that they would find a way to stop the blood bath.  Freshmen members offer words of wisdom; yet nothing changes.

“We stand together to tell this administration that we are against the escalation, and to say with one voice that Congress will no longer be a blank check to the president’s failed policies,” said freshman Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.), who was a captain with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad. “The president’s plan to send more of our best and bravest to die refereeing a civil war in Iraq is wrong.”

We are still funding a failed war effort.  The argument is that if we stop supplying the dollars we will not be supporting the troops.  The troops themselves dispute this claim.  However, members of the House and the Senate fear the people will not believe this is true.  It seems Americans do not recall this action has been taken in the past.

A new report from the Center for American Progress details how, over the last 35 years, Congress has passed bills, enacted into law, [measures that] capped the size of military deployments, prohibited funding for existing or prospective deployment, and placed limits and conditions on the timing and nature of deployments.

Citizens did not clamor in disgust.  They were pleased to bring our boys and girls home with minds and bodies intact.  Might we again let our conscious be our guide?  Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!! 

Please contact Troops Out Now Coalition. Join your fellow Americans during the week of March 12, 2007.  Participate in a March on Washington District of Columbia or donate to the cause.  Volunteer if you are able.

The Weather forecast for Washington, District of Columbia is predicted to be mild, in 60’s for next week.
For the latest Encampment updates – check the Encampment blog

Do Not Let Them Get Away With It!!!
Antiwar Encampment in Front of Congress Starts on Monday, March 12, 2007

Don’t Be Fooled, the “withdrawal from Iraq” plan that Democratic Party leaders in Congress have just announced is nothing more than a cover for them to approve Bush’s request for $100 billion to fund the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan– in other words, to continue the war.

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
Democratic Party leaders propose to begin withdrawing troops in a year to 18 months.  Over the last 18 months, more than 1,200 U.S. soldiers have been killed, and about 7 times that many wounded and maimed. Do the math: a year or 18 more months of war is a death sentence for untold numbers of soldiers and an even greater number of Iraqis.

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
The “withdrawal time tables” along with the ” goals and conditions” that Democratic leaders are proposing are not fundamentally different than the ones that Bush proposed in his “State of the Union” address.  The real stink bomb hidden in this new “withdrawal” legislation is that Bush and his generals have the authority to “waive” any part of these so-called timetables and conditions, any time he wants to.
The fact is that these new proposals amount to nothing more than political posturing by Democratic leaders in order to get some of the antiwar heat off of them while they continue to fund the war. This plan is not a plan to end the war–it is just another non-binding resolution.  Representative Jerry Nadler had it right when he said, “All of this is just, and excuse funding another year of war.”

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
Democratic Party leaders can end the war right now if the exercise their power to simply cut off all funding for the war.
If they don’t do that, then it’s not just Bush’s war, or just the Republican Party’s war, it’s the Democratic Party’s war as well and now is the time to demand that they put up or shut up.

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
On Monday, antiwar activists from around the country will began camping in front of the Capital building at 3rd St. right on the Washington DC National Mall.
We will be there with tents, banners, placards, signs, noisemakers,  etc. demanding that Congress stop the BS and simply cut off the war funding, end the war now and bring the troops home. We need you to join us. We need you to march on the Pentagon on March 17.  Moreover, if there was ever a time to be in the streets, blocking traffic, occupying bridges, organizing walk-outs from coast to coast to stop this criminal war. This Is The Time!

The Encampment to Stop the War will start in just a few days – Monday, March 12 – and there is an enormous amount of work to be done in a short period of time.  We have an opportunity in the next few days to have a major impact, if we work together–here’s how you can help:

Let us know if you are coming to the Encampment.  Use the Volunteer form at http://troopsoutnow….

Volunteer at the Encampment – we will need hundreds of volunteers during the week of the Encampment let us know how you can help (logistics, security, medical, greeter, etc) – http://troopsoutnow….

Please Donate to help with the enormous costs of the Encampment

If you are not able to come to the encampment, help send a youth activist to the Encampment to the week- donate for transportation and housing costs here.

Please Peruse the Possibilities . . .

  • IRAQ WAR PROTEST: Interview w/Rep. John Conyers  YouTube.
  • Democratic win welcomed abroad.  USA Today. November 8, 2006
  • Democrats Steer the War in Iraq in Fits and Starts, By Robin Toner.  The New York Times. March 10, 2007
  • pdf Democrats Steer the War in Iraq in Fits and Starts, By Robin Toner.  The New York Times. March 10, 2007
  • Troops Out Now Coalition
  • Iraq pullout bill tests Pelosi’s grip on Dems, Speaker juggles disparate factions to hold party unity.  By Edward Epstein. San Francisco Chronicle. Saturday, March 10, 2007
  • The Price of Addiction. Bush and War, By Betsy L. Angert.
  • Donate.  Troops Out Now Coalition
  • Volunteer form.  Troops Out Now Coalition