Past Event

The War Over Iraq

Guest Speaker Announcement:

Café Society is excited to be hosting guest speakers on this week’s topic in three locations! Anita David and Elce Redmond from Christian Peacemaker Teams will join the conversations at Intelligentsia, Pause, and Caffe de Luca.

Last week, General David Petraeus delivered his much-anticipated report on the impact of the troop surge ordered in January. He delivered a positive picture, stressing improvements in security, and reported the killing or capture of significant numbers of al-Qaeda operatives. He also cited alliances forged with Sunni leaders in the Anbar province as a potential breakthrough in the struggle to quell the Iraqi insurgency.

The general warned against a rapid pullout and advised a gradual withdrawal of troops starting with 2,000 troops this month and returning to pre-surge levels of about 130,000 by next summer. In a later address to the nation, President Bush echoed Petraeus’ plan and insisted that drawdowns were now possible because of the surge’s success.

This is the first time since the invasion that the President’s plan includes outlines for withdrawal. Some analysts say this signals an important shift in the nation’s Iraq strategy. Others point out that the drawdown was inevitable because many troops’ tours of duty begin to expire in the spring. Many Democrats and anti-war groups still argue for a quicker withdrawal. Is the drawdown a change in strategy or a concession by the White House? Will the progress on security issues in Iraq be sustainable once our troops return to pre-surge levels?

While there have been reductions in violence in certain regions, most reports acknowledge that overall levels in Iraq remain high. The week prior to Petraeus’ recommendations, the Government Accountability Office released a report citing that the Iraqi government had only fully met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11 of its 18 political, economic, and security benchmarks. Some point out that the primary purpose for the surge in troops was to create secure conditions that would allow opportunities for Iraqi reconciliation. Because little progress has been reached, they argue that the central goal has not beenachieved.

In the interests of political consensus should a middle ground be sought in the timeline for troop withdrawal? Is bipartisan consensus between the White House and Democrats possible for a long-term strategy? Will alliances with different Iraqi groups or individuals forged in the current climate lead to problems in the future? What strategy for Iraq would make America safer?

Join us this week to share your thoughts on the future of the war in Iraq.

Suggested Readings:

More about the Speakers:

Anita David has worked in Iraq for the last 2 ½ years. She was in Baghdad until the spring of 2006 and since then in Suleimaniya, Kurdistan endeavoring to do human rights work and violence reduction work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

CPT offers an organized, nonviolent alternative to war and other forms of lethal inter-group conflict. In December 2003, CPT delivered a report on prisoner mistreatment issues in Abu Ghraib to civilian and military leadership in Baghdad, December 2003. The report was also given to members of Congress in Jan 2004. CPT worked with Iraqis to build a Muslim peacemaking team in 2005, and, in 2006, they accompanied 2 busloads of Palestinians out of Iraq.

Elce Redmond, a community organizer and lifelong resident of Chicago, has been working with community groups throughout the city on issues such as housing, heat assistance, healthcare, and human rights for more than 20 years.Hehas conducted leadership development and political development and political eduation projects in Bosnia-Herzigovina, Ireland, Argentina, East Timor,and Cote D’Ivoire. Most recently,Redmond went to Baghdad with the Christian PeacemakerTeam to advocate and organize on behalf of detainees in Iraq. Here in Chicago, he has worked closely withlabor unions and the community to bring attention to issues of economic justice, including the Wal-Mart campaign.

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.