Getting the United States out of Iraq
Portions of a speech to the Kennebec County Democratic Committee (Read the entire speech)
May 18, 2006
How do we get out of Iraq?

The short answer is "As quickly as possible."

Of course it is more complicated than that.

But the first step is to have an agreed-upon goal, for Congress to agree that WE NEED TO GET OUT.

Articulating the goal is important.

The second step is in understanding the dynamic of what is going on over there, of what we're doing and what we're not doing, what our responsibilities are, and what they're not.

The third step is to coordinate our withdrawal with the fledgling Iraqi government and its friendly neighbors in the region, involving the UN and European countries where appropriate, to maximize the potential for stability.

I agree with Rep. Murtha when he said six months ago that we had already achieved everything possible militarily in Iraq. The military war in Iraq ended a long time ago. The violence happening there now is criminal, or gang-related, or a civil war between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds.

Our troops are an added target, but not the entire focus.

And in that situation, it is hard for our troops to tell whose side we are on, who within their field of vision is friend, and who is foe.

But here we are, six months after Rep. Murtha's remarks, and we're still rotating 120,000 troops in and out of that country.

That includes a reported 20,000 National Guard and Reserve troops.

And from all appearances, our presence there is not quelling any of the violence.

In fact, it seems to only make matters worse.

Yes, under step two, we most definitely have to recognize our serious responsibilities toward Iraq, in the form of reparations for all the damage we've done, for all the thousands of civilian deaths we've caused, for all the havoc we have wrought to a thriving economy and culture.

But first we must stop causing that damage, and that means removing the troops.

Getting our troops out of there is also selfish.

I don't want our troops in harms way any longer.

I don't want them to be targets for snipers or roadside bombs.

We're an occupying army in a country that wants us gone.

So let's go.

It also means removing the American corporations that are providing support staff for the troops.

I'm talking about Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root, those kinds of outfits that are feeding the troops, doing the laundry, trucking the fuel, all at overblown taxpayer expense.

And it includes all the "private contractors," the private security forces that have been behaving like mercenaries in that country.

But beyond that, we need to put Iraq on the "don't go there" list for all American corporations, forbidding any American company from owning any assets in Iraq, or operating a business within that country.

Part of this process is to unilaterally revoke, repeal, make null, all the laws and rules that US Iraqi civilian administrator Paul Bremer instituted shortly after the Iraq War began - in violation of international law.

That means relinquishing control and any claims of ownership of the oil fields and all the associated infrastructure and turning them back to the Iraqi government.

If we want their oil, we buy it from them.

And, of course, we stop building permanent military bases in Iraq.

We just stop.

We pull out of there, turn the keys over to the Iraqi government, and go home. They can drink any Starbucks coffee that we leave behind.

With us out of the way, the reconstruction and healing can begin, again with the help of friendly allies - allies friendly to Iraq, as the Iraqi government defines that.

The Iraq War has been a disaster, no matter how you count.

Legally, morally, strategically, diplomatically, militarily, financially. We will be paying for this disaster for many decades. Our federal budget is a wreck.

I cry not only for all the lives lost, on all sides in this fiasco, but also for all the billions of dollars that have been shoved down this rat hole.

And I lament all the good that those billions of dollars could have done here, all the infrastructure and social services that have been lost to us and will continue to be lost to this country.

All as a result of this so-called war.

Excerpted from a speech to the Kennebec County Democratic Committee. (Read the entire speech)