It's Long Past Time to Bring the Troops Home

Chip Shields

Editor's note: This week, Representative Chip Shields (D-Portland) joins us a regular contributor here at BlueOregon.

Chip_war This week I, along with several colleagues in the Oregon Legislature, announced the filing of a resolution that urges Congress to oppose the President’s Iraq War plan to send even more troops to Iraq. It also urges the Congress and President to develop an exit strategy from Iraq and begin troop redeployment no later than August, 2007. Two years ago, on June 16, 2005, Republican Congressmen Walter Jones and Ron Paul joined Democratic Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Neil Abercombie in introducing House Joint Resolution 55, The Homeward Bound Act.

The Homeward Bound Act was a binding Resolution calling for President Bush to develop a timeline and exit strategy from Iraq with a withdrawal that would begin by October 1, 2006. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), Sen. Avel Gordly (I-Portland) and 14 others, joined me in introducing House Joint Memorial 38 in the 2005 session. This memorial mirrored that Kucinich/Jones resolution in Congress. We called our memorial the Oregon Homeward Bound Act.

That memorial, like the one we introduced this week, was intentionally crafted to avoid partisan finger-pointing and recriminations. It was a way to bring our troops home.

It did not pass last session, and I remember hoping with all my heart that another resolution this session wouldn’t be necessary because the war would be over. I regret today that is not the case. So, this week, we announced the filing of another version of the Oregon Homeward Bound Act. We’re calling this resolution the Oregon Homeward Bound Act of 2007. It melds our Act from last session with aspects of the resolution passed at Portland City Council.

We, the co-sponsors, felt this was an important dialogue to have in the legislative assembly. We look forward to many others, including Republicans, signing on to the bill.

The message from America in the last election was clear that we cannot afford, in either blood or treasure, to provide security for Iraq forever. We cannot ask Oregon’s sons and daughters, husbands and wives, to spill their blood for Iraq’s security forever.

At the national level, we see courageous Republican senators like Chuck Hagel saying it’s time to bring our troops home. It’s time to put aside any kind of differences we may have had in the run-up to the war. It’s time to stand up for our troops. It’s time to stand up for their families, and say there is a way to bring our troops home… and the time to do it is now.

We hope to reach across the aisle and find language that it is acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats, because the safety of our troops is not a partisan issue. The draft we submitted doesn’t have a bill number yet, but in a few weeks it will and will most likely be referred to the Rules Committee chaired by Rep. Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland).

I am delighted that Rep. Larry Galizio (D-Tigard), Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene), Rep. Rosenbaum, Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland) and Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Portland) have already decided to sign on.

I hope everyone in the Oregon legislative assembly and the state will work together to pass this memorial now so that we won’t have to pass another Homeward Bound Act in the 2009 legislature.

You can help by calling your legislator and urging them to sign on to the Oregon Homeward Bound Act of 2007. You can find out who your legislators are here.

Enough is enough. It’s time to bring our troops home.

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    Great job, Chip! I'm delighted to see this happening. I hope Tina Kotek signs on soon.

  • Michael M. (unverified)

    So all U.S. troops come home, and what happens to Iraq? We bear no responsibility for the ethnic cleansing and refugee crisis that will almost definitely ensue? We just get to cut and run?

    Yikes. I do wonder how you can advocate something like this and still sleep at night. It's all about Oregon families, huh? That's all that's important?

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    So all U.S. troops come home, and what happens to Iraq?

    That will be determined by Iraqis.

    The problem is we are not "providing security for Iraq." We are making an awful situation worse with our presence. Good intentions don't equate to the reality we've created.

    Yes, we have much culpability for the situation we leave behind, but we have no credibility --or capacity-- for fixing it.

    I do think, Chip, the language about "providing security" lends itself to Michael M's criticism, and suggests we're just weary of the effort. A better formulation, and this can be done without pointing fingers to win bi-partisan support, is that what we're doing is not working.

    Thanks for doing this.

  • Michael M. (unverified)

    Frank, you sound rather like neocon Charles Krauthammer in yesterday's Washington Post, in one of his more obnoxious pontifications about how it's all the Iraqi's doing. What a depressing and, IMO, irresponsible view.

    Among the many objections to the war going in -- those ignored by the majority of Democrats who voted to authorize Bush's invasion -- was that we would have to be there for a long, long time. Civil war and massive ethnic cleansing was always a huge risk, and the necessity of preventing it a sobering thought, though apparently not one those who supported the invasion gave enough thought to. Well the chickens have come home to roost, and not just the chickens from the war, but from U.S. policy going back to the 1980s that helped prop up Hussein's murderous regime to begin with. We have a lot of meddling and bloodshed on our hands, and I just don't see how we can now turn our backs on the whole thing and run.

    Absolutely, what we're doing is not working. But get the U.N. involved, get NATO involved, negotiate with Iran, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, consider a meaningful partition. There are a lot of options this idiotic administration hasn't been willing to pursue. Cut and run is not an option, at least not one that anyone with a sense of decency and obligation could possibly support. Again, I really wonder how people who advocate this can sleep at night.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Absolutely, what we're doing is not working. But get the U.N. involved, get NATO involved, negotiate with Iran, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, consider a meaningful partition. There are a lot of options this idiotic administration hasn't been willing to pursue. -Michael M.

    And who in this "idiotic administration" do you suggest could do this? Condi? John Bolton? Would the "Shrub" (© Molly Ivins) ask James Baker? There is no one in this administration that has the respect and the "gravitas" to do the negotiations needed. The US has no credibility, none.

    They are more than "idiotic", they are criminals.

    Earl Blumenaaur came out with a reasonable plan last week, The “New Direction for Iraq Act of 2007”.

    The bullet points: The “New Direction for Iraq Act of 2007” offers a comprehensive approach to a new policy for Iraq and can be summarized as follows:

    • Sets out the goals of U.S. policy as supporting the Iraqi people, preventing greater violence, re-establishing U.S. international credibility and military readiness, and refocusing on real national security threats.

    • Prohibits permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, as well as U.S. control over Iraq’s oil infrastructure and economic policies.

    • Prohibits the escalation of the Iraq War, without specific Congressional approval.

    • Requires the responsible redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq to be completed within approximately one year.

    • Redirects U.S. reconstruction funding from large contractors to Iraqi owned businesses to help create jobs in Iraq.

    • Instructs the President to nullify contracts with any company that has not fulfilled an Iraq reconstruction contract and to recover lost funds.

    • Encourages Congress to investigate and the Attorney General to aggressively prosecute war profiteering and fraud.

    • Directs the President to begin a regional diplomatic effort, including direct negotiations with Syria and Iran, to promote stability in Iraq and seek to solve other outstanding regional issues, such a nuclear proliferation and support for terrorism.

    • Supports a new effort at an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

    • Directs the President to seek a new United Nations resolution to support international cooperation in stabilizing Iraq.

    • Requires the President and the Iraqi government to agree on performance benchmarks and conditions further support for the Iraqi government on the achievement of those benchmarks.

    • Requires the appointment of a Special Envoy for Iraq Reconciliation.

    • Authorizes additional funds for strengthening Iraqi civil society, including labor unions, environmental groups, and community organizations.

    • Authorizes assistance to support a neutral international effort to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate members of sectarian militias.

    • Requires the development of country strategies to address the needs of Iraqi refugees.

    Again this would call for "grown ups" to be in charge, they are not. Screw the non-binding resolutions, investigate, impeach, indict, incarcerate.

    Again, I really wonder how people who advocate this can sleep at night.

    How can one sleep at night now? I wake up in the middle of the night with the sounds of helicopters and the smell of JP4 in my head. I have held veterans going through PTSD crisis's, I have had Gold Star mothers cry on my shoulder. I don't sleep well at night. And neither do millions of Iraqi who don't want us there and the thousand of Gold Star families, the maimed veterans of this debacle and the medical personnel caring for them.

    War is the enemy. "The enemy," resorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live."

    George W. Bush is the enemy.

    "I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these [Third World] nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own.... And if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the "haves" refuse to share with the "have-nots" by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don't want and above all don't want crammed down their throats by Americans." General David M. Shoup, former US Marine Commandant and recipient of the Medal of Honor after Tarawa, 1966

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    Civil war and massive ethnic cleansing was always a huge risk, and the necessity of preventing it a sobering thought, though apparently not one those who supported the invasion gave enough thought to.

    The "no fly zones" established well before the on-the-ground invasion was already propping up the ethnic cleansing of "their" part of Iraq by the Kurds. The US government has long-supported the divying up of Iraq, which, itself, is a creation of Britain, not the people of the region.

    How anyone thinks America can "help" this situation is a mystery to me. The proof is in the pudding. A million Iraqis have already fled their country, not that they're especially welcomed on American soil.

    "Cut and run" is not a term of art, but one of demogogary. Yes, we've responsibilities here, but expecting an "idiotic" administration to do anything but further muck up the situation is a pipe dream. And fundamentally, the Iraqis want us out of their country. The hubris that says we know what's best for them is what it is...hubris. And dishonors the right of people to determine their own destiny.

    We don't have the right to occupy Iraq. Not under international law. And not in the principles and values with which our country was founded. That we're not even doing a good job of it only adds to the tragedy, and makes the argument for us ending this horror, now, all the more compelling.

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    Updated: 4:13 p.m. PT Feb 2, 2007 WASHINGTON - Keeping troops in Iraq for another year and a half will cost nearly a quarter-trillion dollars - about $800 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. - under the budget President Bush will submit to Congress Monday.

    Not to mention how many more American lives, and American wounded returning home.

    We debate here on Blue Oregon the efficacy of taxing smokers for health care for our unprotected kids. Yet we can afford to throw away money like this?

    We can't.

  • JAF (unverified)

    Without looking it up. Can any of the people on here who throw around the word "neocon" like it's a curse word even begin to describe what it means? Or the history of the movement? Stop following the talking points and buzz words like "Rovian", "neocon" and whatever else you just say because everyone else does. Learn to think for yourselves.

    Since the thread is about Iraq I will address that too. I find it curious that both parties authorized the invasion and now the D's and some R's want to sit around and complain about being misled. Oh you mean with the same intelligence that Europe, the UN, Clinton Administration and everyone else was misled was? Yes it's true Blue Oregon, everyone in the GD world thought that Iraq possessed WMDs. Get over it. As far as pulling out of Iraq now. Well in a sick, selfish way I wish the D's would really find the wherewithal to cut the funding and force the President to end the war. I would then wish you well in '08 after the blame for the failure in Iraq would undoubtedly be shifted to the D's. Iraq is unfortunate, but leaving now would devastate not only Iraq but the entire region. Do we really want to contend with an even more destabilized Middle East? I don't......

  • JAF (unverified)

    Another thought I've had recently that maybe someone on here can help me out with. I'm sure a good percentage of Blue Oregon folks believe the government had a hand in 9/11. Correct me if I'm wrong on that I've just seen a lot of polls recently that suggest people believe the government has perpetuated the most grand, fantastic and not to mention successful conspiracy of all time. So that leads me to my question. If this same inept, incompetent, bumbling, idiotic administration can pull off the attacks of 9/11 with so much success and place the blame on Muslim Arabs, then why can't they run a war? You would think with so much success in the arts of conspiracy and planning, and cover-ups that they could manage a little squirmish in the desert. When you think about it like that it makes those conspiracy theories seem a little silly doesn't it?

  • Karl Smiley (unverified)

    "Cut and run is not an option, at least not one that anyone with a sense of decency and obligation could possibly support. Again, I really wonder how people who advocate this can sleep at night".

    Yeah, we are responsible, but it seems to me to be the height of arrogance and naivete that we can have any kind of positive effect by staying. Our presence there has brought the Iraqis terrorists, car bombings, suicide bombers, chaos and roving gangs of murderers and kidnappers freely going about the streets. We've devastated their economy, put almost everyone out of work and been the cause of driving millions of the educated and capable Iraqis and anyone else who could afford it out of the country that we have turned into a killing field.

    9 out of 10 Iraqis want us gone, but Micheal M thinks that anyone who would listen to them shouldn't be able to sleep at night? We have no legal standing in Iraq. We have no moral authority there. Most of what we are doing there is making criminals rich and fomenting civil war and chaos.

    We need to get out!

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    everyone in the GD world thought that Iraq possessed WMDs.

    Yeah, sure, everyone except the weapons inspectors...

  • C (unverified)

    Chip, I appreciate your foresight. Whereas the GOP dopes are wringing their hands, spun out in the "what ifs," nice to see some Demos asserting their voices.

    Our problems with Iraq only transform as troops withdraw. Responsible people, if they have made a mistake, apologize and make amends. Peacekeeping will come when the word "reciprocity" becomes as simple to define as neo-conservative. We've made a mistake, and I expect we will be paying for this mistake in the form of cash and support for several decades.

    If you're lost, read Luke 6:31 or Francis Fukayama.

  • Coffeetrader (unverified)

    By bringing the troops home and walking away from this military action, will be a bigger problem than needed. If this does happen then can you say, "three way civil war". It would be between the Kudes, Sunni, and Shittes. This is something in which out government is attempting to avoid.

    For these people are in countries that are on top of a majority of the world's petroleum reserves. Making it a very important event to stop this military action from going any further.

    The troops can not therefore be brought home not for another couple of years.

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    JAF: I'll go out on a limb and say that most BlueOregon regulars do not believe that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by our own gov't. Really.

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