Photo by Tim Hetherington for Vanity Fair / Panos Pictures.

Photo by Tim Hetherington for Vanity Fair / Panos Pictures.

As reported in The Guardian (UK), which has seen a confidential draft agreement covering the future of U.S. forces in Iraq, the U.S. has plans for an indefinite stay there. The agreement is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorizes the U.S. “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security” without a time limit.

It is not just a war, it is an occupation, so we have to decide that there is not going to continue to be an occupation. There is going to be a withdrawal. This is broader than just Iraq. We need to demand a Middle East–wide withdrawal of military forces from Iraq and Turkey and Qatar and what remains in Saudi Arabia and possibly Jordan and so on. We need to realize our presence there is an irritant that will always be resisted—and we’ll call that resistance “terrorism.”

Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill write in The Guardian (posted on that anti-war campaigners have to change tactics. As the Bush administration is impervious to public opinion, we have to go after the Democratic candidates. While Obama and Clinton are battling it out, we have a perfect opportunity to let them compete for the most serious stand against U.S. occupation of Iraq—including private contractors that Scahill and Klein have written about in their books (Blackwater and The Shock Doctrine, respectively):

This is exactly where we want the candidates: outdoing each other to prove how serious they are about ending the war. That kind of issue-based battle has the power to energize voters and break the cynicism that is threatening both campaigns.

We urge our readers to demand answers from the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees: When General Petraeus appears before the committee on Tuesday and Wednesday, please do not waste time with fine-sounding speeches, but grill the man relentlessly with tough, realistic questions about withdrawing, about the $12 billion the U.S. is currently spending in Iraq every month, about the extreme wear and tear on the armed forces that military officials have been publicly decrying for years now. What are they going to do about the current DoD policy of relentlessly redeploying soldiers on exhausting and often fatal fourth, fifth, sixth tours of duty? No soldier should have to go on so many deployments. Never before in American history have soldiers been made to go back to the battlefield so many times. This is a cost of empire. And less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is currently serving in the (all-volunteer) military. How does Petraeus justify this policy?

Make General Petraeus and the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees deal with the arguments compiled by Iraq Veterans Against the War:

  • The Iraq war is based on lies and deception.
  • The Iraq war violates international law.
  • Corporate profiteering is driving the war in Iraq.
  • Overwhelming civilian casualties are a daily occurrence in Iraq.
  • Soldiers have the right to refuse illegal war.
  • Service members are facing serious health consequences due to our Government’s negligence.
  • The war in Iraq is tearing our families apart.
  • The Iraq war is robbing us of funding sorely needed here at home.
  • The war dehumanizes Iraqis and denies them their right to self-determination.
  • Our military is being exhausted by repeated deployments, involuntary extensions, and activations of the Reserve and National Guard.