Americans Against Escalation in Iraq

2-17-07, 9:34 am

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq

For Immediate Release                                                         Date: February 16, 2007                                                                       New York Leaders and Veterans Launch New Statewide Campaign Opposing Bush’s Escalation Plan in Iraq, Urge Members of Congress to Support Resolution Disapproving of Bush Plan in House Vote this Week

Congressman Peter King urged to support resolution against sending more troops to Iraq

Massapequa Park– New York Leaders, veterans and area citizens held an urgent press conference today to launch a new statewide campaign opposing President’s Bush’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq.  The newly formed group called on Representative Peter King and all of New York’s Members of Congress to oppose escalating the war in Iraq and supporting a resolution disapproving of the plan in Congress. The anti-escalation resolution is expected to come up for a vote on Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives and Saturday in the U.S. Senate. 

“We are launching a statewide campaign against escalation in Iraq to express New York citizens opposition to President Bush’s failed Iraq strategy and urge our Members of Congress to support a resolution disapproving of escalating the war in Iraq in the House and Senate this week,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.  “We want the Congress to send a strong message to President Bush that his tried and failed Iraq strategy is NOT the answer.”

“All New Yorkers deserve to know where their Members of Congress stand on Iraq. The Iraq Study Group, the overwhelming majority of the American people, the troops and senior military leaders oppose the President’s Iraq strategy OR they stand for ‘staying the course’ with President Bush”. Stated Brian Van Riper, 25 year old Iraq War Veteran, served with the Marine Corp in 2003 representing Vote Vets.

King has become infamous for his defiantly inaccurate view on the success of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. On Feb. 9, 2006, then House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY) spoke at the Merrick Jewish Center in Merrick, NY. King told his constituents that 'the situation [in Iraq] is more stable than you think.' He cited 'bumper to bumper traffic,' shopping centers, restaurants, video stores, vendors, and hotels to conclude that being in Baghdad is 'like being in Manhattan.'

Our coalition here includes the following organizations: Vote Vets, Long Island Progressive Coalition and Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives. This campaign is to be a full-fledged grassroots, grass tops, net roots, lobbying and public education campaign in every sense of the concept. 

“We are organizing this effort because the people right here at home and across America spoke in November – they said with respect to the Administration’s failed policy in Iraq – enough is enough.  But, the President and Vice President Cheney refused to listen – and President Bush instead is committing as many as 48,000 additional troops in what should simply be called Stay the Course: The Sequel,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

The event was one of thousands being held across the country as part of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a national bipartisan coalition of veterans, union members, civic activists and concerned citizens. Leaders discussed their concern for the troops and the President’s plan to escalate the war there by inserting as many as 48,000 troops into the middle of a violent civil war.  

'We have had four years of a catastrophic war that has cost more than 3000 American soldiers their lives,' said Megan O'Handley, Executive Director, Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives. 'Escalating the war by committing more troops to Iraq will only make a bad situation worse. The American people issued a clear mandate for peace in the November elections. That is why we are asking Congressman King, and all the members of LI's congressional delegation, to vote for the nonbinding resolution opposing escalation. It is a first step towards ending the war and bringing the troops home.'

Paul Borowski, Roman Catholic priest and a member of the Redemptorist Congregation stated “of all the challenging sayings of Jesus Christ, the most challenging one has to be:  ‘To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’  This is not a suggestion, a recommendation, or an idea that we can try out when we feel like it.  We are called to daily love and pray for those we disagree with.  Our faith calls us to look at each person with new eyes and see our brother, our sister.  A continual build up of arms and soldiers simply prevents the message of Jesus Christ from truly being lived in all our world.  There is no enemy on the other side of a battle field; there is simply a person who is a child of God and must be treated as such.”

Earlier this month President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the Republican leadership in the Senate mounted a filibuster and obstructed the Senate from debating and voting on an Iraq resolution – a debate on Iraq that Americans have been waiting four years to have. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now giving GOP Senators one more chance to voice their opposition to sending more troops into a civil war in Iraq with a Senate vote on Saturday.

“While the GOP leadership was busy obstructing discussion of Iraq, more Americans are being sent into harm’s way,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “The urgency here is real …  American lives are hanging in the balance. This kind of delay tactic is unacceptable and it is not playing well here in New York.”

“We think the House vote today will send a stern message to President Bush that he needs to start listening and change the course. It is our hope that the Senate GOP leadership will stop playing games with the lives of our young fighting men and women and finally allow an up or down vote on the president’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq,” Tyson continued.

“After four long years, the deaths of over 3,000 American soldiers, tens of thousands injured and almost $400 billion spent – it’s time for Congress to show some leadership on this issue and hold the Bush administration accountable for its failed policies,” added Tyson.