The Common Good

Twelve Army Captains Offer Front Line Frankness

"Our best option is to leave Iraq immediately." This is not from a Democratic pundit or a Christian pacifist like myself. It's from 12 former Army captains who served in Babil and Baghdad, Najaf and Ninevah, and beyond.


As they wrote in "The Real Iraq We Knew":

Even with 'the surge, we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely, and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet - moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

When Pisistratus (the "Tyrant of Athens") used unjust force and illegal maneuvers to take Athens, the great lawgiver and defender of democracy, Solon, responded. He took his helmet, spear, and sword, and laid them in the street in front of his house. "I can do no more," Solon said to the people. "I have done all that was in my power to help my country and uphold its laws. You would not listen to me. There are my arms, my weapons. They are no longer of any use."


The words of these 12 Army captains stand in an ancient tradition.


Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor of Sojourners, is a Catholic peace activist and poet.

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