Iraq War critics plan to greet Bush in Newport

Dissenting voices
By IAN DONNIS  |  June 20, 2007
Now that President Bush is finally scheduled to make a visit, next Thursday, June 28, to the Democratic bastion of Rhode Island, members of the local peace movement hope to remind him of ongoing opposition to the war in Iraq.
With Bush slated to speak at the Naval War College in Newport, “There will be a lot of national media because of the president, and a lot of tourists in Newport because of the Tall Ships exhibit. This is an important chance to show the nation that RI wants the Iraq war to end now,” according to an e-mail sent by Mark Stahl of the Rhode Island Community Coalition for Peace.
With a peace rally in downtown Newport, and possibly one near the War College, Stahl and fellow activists plan to emphasize a call for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, no military action against Iran, and adequate benefits for US veterans, among other points.
Even with the unpopularity of the ongoing war, most Americans aren’t about to demonstrate their opposition. Considering this, it is activists like those in the Rhode Island Community Coalition who are trying to hold congressional Democrats to their pledges during last year’s campaign to bring the war in Iraq to a close.
In related news, a group seven Rhode Island activists this week released a letter sent to US Senator Jack Reed as a follow-up to a May 29 meeting with the senator.
In the letter, the activists praise Reed’s “early and courageous stand against this war and your consistent willingness to acknowledge this administration’s deceit in leading us into war and incompetence in conducting it — both of which have put our country in the difficult position of having no really good options and having lost respect among the nations of the world.”
The group expresses disappointment, though, over Reed’s Senate vote to support supplementary funding for the war and his refusal to require authorization from Congress before President Bush can begin any military action against Iran.
According to the June 2 letter, “You began our discussion by emphasizing that we must look to the future in deciding the role the US should play in Iraq. You stated that our troops need to provide a level of security for the Iraqi people, which includes training Iraqis so that they can take over their own defense and supporting the admittedly weak and ineffective Maliki government. You maintained that people who think that we can just withdraw our troops are naïve about the degree of chaos that would erupt and the likelihood of sectarian violence on a scale that would be an embarrassment to our country since we set off this present round of violence between Shiites and Sunnis.”
For their part, the activists maintain that the effect of withdrawing US troops is “very much a matter of speculation and that many feel that Iraq is already in chaos, the presence of American troops is an irritant that worsens the situation . . . when we call for withdrawal, we are not proposing a ‘cut and run’ approach, but rather a total re-orientation of American involvement in Iraq — away from military intervention and toward a multilateral and diplomatic engagement, with continued financial aid for reconstruction and an emphasis on reconciliation.”
Related: Reality bites, Trapped in Iraq, Are we freer than we were 40 years ago?, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , U.S. Government, U.S. Congressional News, Politics,  More more >
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