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Anti-war activists claim ‘partial success’ for Iraq combat pullout

The most fervent opponents of the Iraq war didn’t use the withdrawal
of combat troops this week to declare “mission accomplished.”

Anti-war activists have been clamoring for U.S. troops to
leave Iraq since the conflict began in 2003. Nonetheless, when the last combat
brigade left this week, there was little celebration among the war’s critics.

{mosads}Code Pink, a group formed to oppose the war, said the
drawdown to 50,000 troops in Iraq was not enough, though it claimed credit for
“a partial success.”

The muted reaction showed just how much the passions around the
Iraq war have cooled in recent years. It also reflected the shift in strategy
from anti-war activists, who have mostly turned their attention to the fighting
in Afghanistan.

While congressional leaders issued statements marking the
departure of the final combat brigade, there were no grand pronouncements from
the likes of Cindy Sheehan, a longtime leader of the antiwar movement.

The website of Gold Star Families for Peace, the anti-war
group Sheehan co-founded, didn’t mention Thursday’s milestone — though the site
also hasn’t been updated in nearly a year and a half.

MoveOn.org, another prominent liberal war opponent, was also
silent.

The national campaign coordinator for Code Pink, Dana
Balicki, initially could not recall when the group had last organized a protest
on Iraq. She said Code Pink had organized events around the anniversary of the
invasion in March, and she added that its attempts in recent months to disrupt
the book tour of Republican strategist Karl Rove were tied to his involvement
in launching the war.


Balicki called the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq “a
baby step,” but said Code Pink and the anti-war movement could claim credit for
framing the debate that dominated the elections in 2006 and the Democratic
presidential primary in 2008.

“It was the success of the anti-war that pushed the issue,”
Balicki said.

She noted that the group hounded then-Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton in 2008 over her initial support for the war, aiding the ascent of Obama
to the White House.

“We take some credit for [Clinton] not being the Democratic
nominee,” Balicki said.

Code Pink continues to push for a complete withdrawal of
American forces and contractors from Iraq, as well as the closure of all U.S.
bases in the country.

“It’s a partial success. It’s a partial withdrawal,” Balicki
said of the limited drawdown.

She criticized Obama for authorizing a build-up of U.S.
civilians in Iraq, including thousands of private contractors. “[Obama’s]
keeping a promise, and he’s creating a whole new debacle,” Balicki said.

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