WASHINGTON — CODEPINK Women for Peace is disheartened by President Obama’s announcement this morning for troop withdrawal by Aug. 2010, later than his campaign promise, leaving residual troops until December 2011.
Americans voted for Obama largely based on his opposition to the war since its start, and his promise to end the occupation in 2009.
“While the move toward withdrawal is positive, this timeline and leaving tens of thousands of residual troops sounds more like occupation-lite than an end to occupation,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. “But compared to the past eight years of moving backward, at least there’s an atmosphere now where we can continue to apply pressure on the administration to push forward.”
CODEPINK women call on Obama and his administration to immediately withdraw all U.S. troops, including residual forces from Iraq. Instead, the U.S. government should increase efforts in diplomacy, humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement. Continued troop presence will only encourage more armed opposition within Iraq and will not force the Iraqi government and Iraqi factions to negotiate power. In addition, with the continued presence of U.S. troops, the international community will doubt the U.S. commitment to withdrawal and will wait to invest in diplomatic and reconstruction efforts.
“Up to 50,000 troops is a big number to leave behind,” said Dana Balicki, CODEPINK campaign coordinator. “And there hasn’t been any word on military bases left in Iraq that will continue to drain billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers at a time where that money is very much needed at home. But the withdrawal, and a timeline, is a baby step forward from past policies. As citizens, it’s our job to move Obama to take giant strides.”
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