No to escalation! Bring the troops home! March and lobby Congress Jan. 27-29

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The following is a slightly abridged version of a statement released by the Communist Party USA’s peace and solidarity commission on Jan. 16.

The Bush administration’s call to escalate the war in Iraq has been met with a resounding “No!” Twenty-four hours after Bush’s announcement about sending 21,500 more troops, emergency protest actions were organized in nearly 1,000 neighborhoods and town squares.

Bush and the right wing are trying to undermine the 2006 election referendum on the war, sidetrack the peace majority and fragment international support for a political solution. Now they are starting a new push to provoke a war with Iran. Bush and his narrow circle of neoconservatives are willing to take this insane and desperate step to protect their strategic interests in the region against the groundswell of opposition.

The so-called “surge” has no support among the U.S. or Iraqi people. A cross-section of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have joined in expressing outrage. Some in Congress have called it one of the biggest mistakes in U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War.

The political pundits say the drive to escalate the conflict is the Bush administration’s last chance to salvage a war based on lies. The peace movement is calling for mass action to stop the escalation and bring the troops home.

As they push the country toward a constitutional crisis, Bush and his neoconservative advisers stand nearly alone in believing there is a military solution to the crisis in Iraq. The four previous military escalations during the four years of occupation have brought a spiral of casualties among U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians, undermined the elected Iraqi government and fed sectarian violence.

The only way forward is a political solution — one in which Iraq’s national security is achieved through an Iraqi-led reconciliation process with international support, not U.S. control or threats. Reconstituting Iraq’s military and police must be done under Iraqi control, not U.S. manipulation.

Bush says Iraq will slide into chaos if U.S. troops withdraw. But Iraqi parliamentarians, trade unions and civil society have peace plans the U.S. has sidelined. Iraqi leaders and organizations, including the Iraqi Communist Party, say the U.S. presence aggravates and drives the sectarian divisions. In repeated polls, most Iraqis want the troops to leave.

Responding to Bush’s call for new military deployments, the AFL-CIO, Services Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and National Education Association all oppose the escalation of the war and call for bringing the troops home. The United Auto Workers union said, “The U.S. cannot solve this internal civil war. Only Iraq’s leaders can do this, through politically negotiated agreements between the rival factions.”

In an attempt to attain the neoconservative administration’s strategic goal in the region, Bush is coupling escalating the war with economic development plans including privatizing Iraq’s government-run enterprises — among them the oil industry — which together employ half a million people. This amounts to an intensified attack on civil society, including the trade unions as they organize to meet the daily needs of the people, who now face 30 to 60 percent unemployment.

The administration also proposes new steps to consolidate U.S. military and political control through monies allocated for community development. While U.S. corporate war profiteering continues unabated, this is another scheme to divide Iraqis.

Bush says critics must offer an alternative. Most people want Congress to act to end the war. New legislation is being introduced this week to stop the “surge,” cut the funding and begin troop withdrawal.

The U.S. peace movement is challenged to organize political pressure to push back the neoconservative drive, strengthen bipartisan resistance in Congress and advocate for a political solution protecting Iraqi sovereignty. New and urgent action must link ending the occupation with blocking new provocations against Iran, which could engulf the entire region in war. The nuclear danger is the cloud that hangs over this struggle.

Congress will vote in the next days on the administration’s escalation plan. We urge the peace movement to reach out to its natural allies in labor, faith, communities of color and immigrants to build a massive march in Washington on Saturday, Jan. 27, staying to flood the halls of Congress on Monday, Jan. 29.

This is the first of many congressional standoffs with the Bush administration. The fight to stop the escalation is the first step toward congressional action to bring the troops home. It is also linked to the coming struggles to fund community services, veterans’ programs and health care. It is critical to blocking a war on Iran.

The war has claimed $450 billion. Now it’s time to redirect funding to bring the troops home, take care of them when they return, and roll back years of destruction done by right-wing Republican control of Congress.

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