Saturday, April 02, 2005

EPIC Questions Immediate Withdrawal Demand

I just came across this statement about the March 19 demonstrations from the Education for Peace in Iraq Center which was one of the main groups opposing US policy towards Iraq from its founding in 1998.

EPIC Expresses Strong Support for Peace Rallies, Concern over "Immediate Withdrawal" Message

U.S. veterans and Iraqi-Americans also express concern

March 18, 2005 (Washington, DC) - On Saturday, several thousand protestors will rally outside Fort Bragg, North Carolina to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Iraq war. But at least one respected peace organization will not be there.

"The call for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq made by some of the organizers of this weekend's protest may represent a way to save American lives in the short-term, but offers no solution to the violence and instability plaguing the people of Iraq," says Erik Gustafson, the executive director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC).

Founded in 1998 by human rights advocates, EPIC promotes peace, human rights, and democracy for the people of Iraq. Since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq two years ago this week, EPIC has advocated U.S. and international assistance for Iraqi-led development and institution-building. EPIC questions the withdrawal of UN-sanctioned forces until Iraq is able to provide for its own security.

"The only responsible way out of Iraq is through accelerated capacity-building," explains Gustafson, who is also a U.S. Army veteran of the 1991 Gulf War. "

Other U.S. veterans, progressives, and Iraqi-Americans critical of the Bush administration's handling of U.S. policy on Iraq have joined EPIC in expressing concern about the message of the protest's national organizers.

"The Iraqi population, who suffered through multiple wars and years of sanctions, should not be abandoned to a small and violent minority which makes targets of children and civilians. Though we believe further changes are needed in our strategy in Iraq, leaving without stabilizing Iraq is not an option," said Charles Sheehan-Miles, a combat veteran of the 1991 Gulf War and executive director of Veterans for Common Sense .

Needless to say, EPIC, VCS are being attacked by our American "hard left," as is Move-On (for concentrating on domestic issues) and United for Peace and Justice (most recently, for not backing the ANSWER crowds actions which support the so-called "resistance.")

UFPJ is blamed for the small, if not pathetic, turnout at the March 19 demonstrations. The leadership according to this analysis, sold out to the pro-war Democrats and put its energy into electing John Kerry and Congressional Democrats instead of building protests and "actions."

But the drop-off was as great or greater in England, where leaders in the Stop the War Coalition have organized (along with the reactionary Muslim Association of Britain) the Respect Party to challenge Blair's Labour Party. According to Harry's Place, the turnout was
45,000 as the official figure (less than 5% of the Feb 15 total) but their reporter just said his police source had admitted that even that was a "generous" figure and that the real amount is about 20,000
In fact, the decline was world-wide.

As Bob Dylan said, "something is happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you?"

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