I was proud to stand last Thursday with a broad spectrum of organizations representing labor, students, the grassroots, academia, policy, advocates and activists to announce a major national grassroots campaign, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, to oppose the President’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq.

This goes far beyond politics and partisanship.  President Bush has rejected the recommendations of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group; he has ignored the advice of his own generals on the ground; and he has dismissed the concerns of a growing, bipartisan congressional caucus of opposition to escalation.

The president has turned his back on the American people, and I am determined – as I know my friends and colleagues are – to mobilize the millions of Americans who oppose this plan.

Like most of our partners, USAction has not typically focused on foreign-policy issues in our day-to-day work to expand the power of the American people.  But in our efforts to protect America's commitments to our highest priorities – including strong public education and quality, affordable health care for all – we cannot ignore the very real financial toll President Bush's morally bankrupt war has taken on our ability to invest in America's future.

It is somewhat ironic, as millions of Americans celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a great voice for peace in his time, that our President has proposed a policy to escalate the War in Iraq.  Let me quote from one of his speeches, taking the poetic license to substitute the word Iraq for Vietnam.
"Somehow this madness must cease.  We must stop now.  I speak as a child of God and a brother to the suffering poor of [Iraq].  I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted.  I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in [Iraq].  I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken.  I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours."

Let us not add to the scores of thousands of human lives.  Let us not add to the billions of taxpayer dollars.  Let us not continue to destroy the moral authority that we still have in the world.  It is so appropriate that as we celebrate the memory of Dr. King, that we mobilize the anger, the discontent and the outrage of Americans and send a clear, strong message to this President and the Congress to move towards a solution that redeploys our valiant men and women, our brave sons and daughters, husbands and wives and brings them home to us.  The proper course in Iraq is not escalation and more bloodshed; it is redeployment and withdrawal.