By The Progressive on December 23, 2005
Keep Rumsfeld in Iraq, Bring Troops Home
By Matthew Rothschild

December 23, 2005

The withdrawal of U.S. troops is finally beginning, and I cheer every time a single U.S. soldier returns unharmed.

But let’s not fool ourselves here.

George Bush has no intention of bringing all or even most of the troops home anytime soon—or even anytime before he leaves office.

And this withdrawal is less than meets the eye.

Bush has had a baseline of 138,000 troops in Iraq for the last year or so, with the number rising to about 165,000 in the lead-up to the elections.

The Pentagon always planned on drawing back down to 138,000, and now Rumsfeld is going to go 5,000 lower than that.

That will still leave 133,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

I know the Bush Administration wants us all to have amnesia, but the Pentagon was saying the number of U.S. troops in Iraq would be 30,000 by December—December of 2003.

Slight miscalculation there.

Now Bush talks of “complete victory.” And in his ever simplistic formulations, he poses another either/or. It’s no longer, “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.”

Now it’s, “You’re either for victory, or you’re for defeat.”

Well, victory is not around the corner, and the insurgency—don’t tell Cheney—is not in its last throes.

We’ve lost 2,155 soldiers so far in Iraq. By next Christmas, that number may be close to 3,000.

Rumsfeld is in Iraq right now.

He should stay there.

Bring everybody else home.

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Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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