By Anonymous (not verified) on June 13, 2011

Don’t count on the United States to withdraw its 47,000 troops from Iraq by the end of this year, as President Obama has promised.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, along with other Obama administration officials, has exerted tremendous pressure on the Iraqi government to “ask” the United States to keep troops in Iraq. Neither Iraqis nor Americans signed up for this kind of a deal: the permanent occupation of Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to satisfy this American goal of remaining in Iraq while simultaneously attempting to placate his domestic allies who want our forces to leave entirely.

Iraqis from disparate groups have formed a large nationalist movement against occupation and have demanded that the U.S. government keep its pledge to completely exit Iraq by the end of this year. The U.S. government blames the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for this movement. But this is simplistic and misleading. Al-Sadr is responding to strongly held sentiments in Iraq. That’s why he can marshal 70,000 demonstrators to rally for withdrawal. What’s more, tens of thousands of other Iraqis have already joined anti-occupation movements that al-Sadr does not lead.

Candidate Obama promised the American people that U.S. troops would leave Iraq as soon as possible if he were elected president. Then, after winning the election, he pledged to bring all troops home by the end of this year, as required by the Status of Forces Agreement that President Bush negotiated with Iraq.

But even if President Obama withdraws all our troops, which seems improbable today, the United States would still have tens of thousands of private contractors there, along with a huge embassy. Last February, Congress authorized the State Department to increase its embassy staff in Iraq to 17,000. This is by far the largest contingency of American embassy personnel in the world. The embassy compound is actually an enclosed and fully functioning city within Baghdad. Embassy staff will also be placed at five additional locations across Iraq, and the embassy will operate 24 helicopters and 19 planes.

Millions voted for Mr. Obama — not Hillary Clinton — in the Democratic primaries because of Obama’s clear opposition to the war in Iraq and his intent for a quick withdrawal. But President Obama is not keeping his word.

Adil E. Shamoo is a senior analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus, writing on ethics and public policy, and is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Bonnie Bricker is a teacher and writer. They can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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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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