Iraq War, Alternate Plans
Many Alternate Plans Have Been Presented
Bush: If you don't like my Iraq plan, tell me yours
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush on Saturday challenged lawmakers skeptical of his new Iraq plan to propose their own strategy for stopping the violence in Baghdad.
"To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible," Bush said.
In a pitch to lawmakers and the American people, Bush said the United States will keep the onus on the Iraqi government to take charge of security and reach a political reconciliation. Democrats and many Republicans oppose the Bush plan to send 21,500 more U.S. troops into Iraq.
"We have a new strategy with a new mission: Helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead."
The president asked for patience from lawmakers who grilled Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when they testified before Congress in defense of the president's new plan.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate intend to hold votes within a few weeks on Bush's revised Iraq policy. The nonbinding resolutions would be one way to show their opposition to any troop buildup and force Republicans to make a choice about whether they support the president's plan.
Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minnesota, said that he, along with most Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans, believe sending more troops compounds a bad situation. Walz, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said diplomatic and political solutions are needed, not more troops.
"Before moving forward with this escalation, we owe it to these troops, to their families, and to all Americans to ask the tough questions and demand honest answers about this policy," Walz said in the Democrats' Saturday radio address.
"Is there a clear strategy that the commanders on the ground believe will succeed?" Walz said. "What are the benchmarks for success, and how long does the president believe it will take to achieve them? Is this a policy that will contribute to the America's security in the larger war on terror, or distract from it?"
Bush: Those who oppose plan must 'offer alternative'
"Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully," Bush said. "But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. "
In his radio broadcast, Bush replayed the highlights of his Wednesday night address to the nation.
He said the 21,500 troops being sent to Baghdad and Anbar province, a base for al Qaeda, have a changed mission.
"This time there will be adequate Iraqi and U.S. forces to hold the areas that have been cleared," Bush said.
Bush said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has pledged that political sectarian interference with security operations will not be tolerated. "This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter neighborhoods that are home to those fueling sectarian violence," he said.
The president also said the United States will hold the Iraqi government to its pledge to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November, pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis and spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction that will create new jobs.
"The Iraqi government knows that it must meet them, or lose the support of the Iraqi and the American people," Bush said.
What do you have, shit for brains?
#1) Iraq Study Group
Bush totally ignored key elements of the ISG proposal:
- a transition that could enable U.S. combat forces to begin to leave Iraq.
- political, military, or economic support for Iraq would be conditional on the Iraqi government's ability to meet benchmarks.
- an international support group for Iraq including all of Iraq's neighbors.
- a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement.
Baker, Hamilton respond to Bush plan
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group Friday urged U.S. President George W. Bush to adopt more recommendations from their report.
"We are pleased that the president reviewed the report of the Iraq Study Group carefully and seriously. Some of our recommendations are reflected in the new approach that he outlined Wednesday, while others have not been adopted," former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., said in their joint statement.
"We support increasing the number of American advisers embedded in Iraqi army units with the goal that the Iraq government will assume control of security in all provinces in Iraq by November 2007. We recommended many of the benchmarks President Bush outlined for Iraq, and agree that now is the time for the Iraqi government to act," the two elder statesmen said.
"We hope the president and his administration will further consider other recommendations of the Iraq Study Group," Baker and Hamilton said. "The president did not suggest the possibility of a transition that could enable U.S. combat forces to begin to leave Iraq. The president did not state that political, military, or economic support for Iraq would be conditional on the Iraqi government's ability to meet benchmarks. Within the region, the president did not announce an international support group for Iraq including all of Iraq's neighbors, nor mention measures we suggested to reach a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement."
"We are encouraged by the president's statement that 'America's commitment is not open-ended,'" the two men said.
"We welcome President Bush's commitment to form a working group with congressional leaders that will work across party lines in pursuit of a common policy," they said.
- To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
- To create a quick reaction force in the region.
- To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
- To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq
This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.
Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
Liberal Lawmakers Seek End to Iraq War
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House's most liberal lawmakers, ignored while Republicans were in charge, are emerging to push resistance to President Bush's plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq.
The Progressive Caucus members, who've long advocated withdrawing troops from Iraq, seized the chance to offer a gentle "I told you so" to those who are just now coming to that position.
"We were labeled dissenters," declared Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., caucus co-chair. "We have changed enough minds that ours is now the mainstream position."
More than a dozen House members and dozens of onlookers gathered Friday for the group's first forum in the new Democratic-controlled Congress. They were there to hear from George McGovern, the liberal former senator and presidential candidate, on his plan for withdrawing from Iraq in six months.
But first, they took time to delight in their new digs: the big, well-appointed Cannon Caucus Room across the street from the Capitol. It was a far cry from the out-of-the-way basement rooms allowed them when Republicans were in power. "Look where we are today!" Woolsey said.
McGovern, a South Dakota Democrat who ran for president in 1972 on an anti-Vietnam War platform, said he thought at the time there was one silver lining to that war.
"'This Vietnam situation is so outrageous we'll never go down that road again,'" he recalled saying. "And here we are." With Congress grappling with its response to Bush's plan to add more than 20,000 troops to the forces already in Iraq, several Progressive Caucus members made their stance clear: They want Democratic leaders to use Congress' power of the purse to block the move by refusing to fund it.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate intend to hold votes within a few weeks on nonbinding resolutions to show their opposition to any troop buildup. Action on trying to block funding for a buildup could wait until the administration submits a supplemental war spending request later this year.
Some progressives want to attach conditions to that bill that would block the funding from going for a troop increase. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has indicated she's open to that but hasn't committed to it.
"This is all great, but the real test is going to come on the supplemental," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. "It's not clear that Democratic leaders are prepared to bring an end to the war fairly quickly."
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who chairs a key Appropriations subcommittee, said Friday he'd like to add other conditions to the war spending measure as well, such as requiring more troop training and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "If he wants to veto the bill, he won't have any money" for the war, Murtha said.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., won McGovern's approval for a suggestion that Congress amend the war spending request to specify it only could be used for force protection, withdrawal and diplomacy.
"I'd endorse that all the way," McGovern said.
FACT SHEET: Biden Plan for Iraq
President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq. His strategy is to prevent defeat and to hand the problem off to his successor. Meanwhile, the frustration of Americans is mounting so fast that Congress might end up mandating a rapid withdrawal, even at the risk of trading a dictator for chaos and a civil war that could become a regional war. Both are bad alternatives.
There is a third way. The idea is to maintain a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions. The central government would be responsible for common interests, like border security and the distribution of oil revenues. The plan would bind the Sunnis by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenues. It would increase economic aid but tie it to the protection of minority and women's rights and the creation of a jobs program. It would require a regional non-aggression pact, overseen by the U.N. Security Council. And it would allow us to responsibly withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2007.
The new, central reality in Iraq is that violence between the Shiites and Sunnis has surpassed the insurgency as the main security threat. . In last December's elections, 90 percent of the votes went to sectarian lists. Ethnic militias increasingly are the law in Iraq. They have infiltrated the official security forces. Massive unemployment is feeding the militia and criminal gangs. Sectarian cleansing has forced 200,000 Iraqis to flee their homes in recent months. At the same time, Al Qaeda is now so firmly entrenched in Western Iraq that it has morphed into an indigenous jihadist threat. As a result, Iraq risks becoming what it was not before the war: a haven for radical fundamentalists.
There is no military solution to the sectarian civil war. The only way to break the vicious cycle of violence – and to create the conditions for our forces to responsibly withdraw -- is to give Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds incentives to pursue their interests peacefully. That requires a sustainable political settlement. That’s where my plan comes in..
This plan is not partition – in fact, it may be the only way to prevent violent partition and preserve a unified Iraq. This plan is consistent with Iraq's constitution, which provides for Iraq's 18 provinces to join together in regions, with their own security forces, and control over most day-to-day issues. This plan is the only idea on the table for dealing with the militia, which are likely to retreat to their respective regions. This plan is consistent with a strong central government, with clearly defined responsibilities. Indeed, it provides an agenda for that government, whose mere existence will not end sectarian violence.
The example of Bosnia is illustrative. Ten years ago, Bosnia was being torn apart by ethnic cleansing. The United States stepped in decisively with the Dayton Accords to keep the country whole by, paradoxically, dividing it into ethnic federations. We even allowed Muslims, Croatsand Serbs to retain separate armies. With the help of U.S. troops and others, Bosnians have lived a decade in peace. Now, they are strengthening their central government, and disbanding their separate armies.
The course we're on leads to a terrible civil war and possibly a regional war. This plan is designed to head that off. I believe it is the best way to bring our troops home, protect our fundamental security interests, and preserve Iraq as a unified country. The question I have for those who reject this plan is simple: what is your alternative?
A Five Point Plan for Iraq
1. Establish One Iraq, with Three Regions
- Establish three largely autonomous regions with a strong but limited central government in Baghdad
- Put the central government in charge of border defense, foreign policy, oil production and revenues
- Form regional governments -- Kurd, Sunni and Shiite -- responsible for administering their own regions
2. Share Oil Revenues
- Gain agreement for the federal solution from the Sunni Arabs by giving them 20 percent of all present and future oil revenues – an amount roughly proportional to their size – to make their region economically viable
- Empower the central government to set national oil policy and distribute the revenues, which would attract needed foreign investment and reinforce each community’s interest in keeping Iraq intact
3. Increase Reconstruction Assistance and Create a Jobs Program
- Provide more reconstruction assistance, but clearly condition it on the protection of minority and women’s rights and the establishment of a jobs program to give Iraqi youth an alternative to the militia and criminal gangs
- Insist that other countries make good on old commitments and provide new ones – especially the oil-rich Arab Gulf countries
4. Engage the Neighbors, Maintain Iraq’s Territorial Integrity
- With the U.N., convene a regional security conference where Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran, pledge to respect Iraq’s borders and work cooperatively to implement this plan
- Engage Iraq’s neighbors directly to overcome their suspicions and focus their efforts on stabilizing Iraq, not undermining it
- Create a standing Contact Group, to include the major powers, that would engage Iraq’s neighbors and enforce their commitments
5. Drawdown US Troops
- Direct U.S. military commanders to develop a plan to withdraw and re-deploy almost all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2007
- Maintain in or near Iraq a small residual force – perhaps 20,000 troops – to strike any concentration of terrorists, help keep Iraq’s neighbors honest and train its security forces
Who knows what this screwball will come up with?
But, any how, he did come up with a plan:
Duncan DUKE Hunters basic plan: "We are going to talk about the need to get more Iraqis into the battle," Hunter, R-El Cajon, said in a telephone interview Monday. "We need to rotate more Iraqi battalions into the battle areas on an accelerated basis so they can get combat operations experience."
Hunter to meet with Bush today on Iraq strategy
Duncan DUKE Hunters basic plan: "We are going to talk about the need to get more Iraqis into the battle," Hunter, R-El Cajon, said in a telephone interview Monday. "We need to rotate more Iraqi battalions into the battle areas on an accelerated basis so they can get combat operations experience."
NORTH COUNTY -- U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and 10 members of the House Armed Services Committee he leads will meet with President Bush this afternoon to recommend increased Iraqi troop deployment to Baghdad and other hotspots.
The White House meeting will take place less than 24 hours before the public release of the Iraq Study Group report, which will lay out options for continued U.S. involvement in Iraq.
"We are going to talk about the need to get more Iraqis into the battle," Hunter, R-El Cajon, said in a telephone interview Monday. "We need to rotate more Iraqi battalions into the battle areas on an accelerated basis so they can get combat operations experience."
The 2008 Republican Party presidential hopeful has been calling for the Bush administration to "go Iraqi" as one way to reduce U.S. troop exposure to insurgent attacks and strenghten the ability of the Iraqi army to stabilize the country.
Too many Iraqi forces remain lodged in relatively calm areas where they don't see much combat and therefore are not being shaped into battle-hardened units, he said. Only 35 of 114 Iraqi battalions are stationed in areas such as Baghad and the Anbar province of western Iraq, where the vast majority of the violence continues.
"We must have a fully trained and operating Iraqi military and that is the message we intend to take to the president," Hunter said.
As the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter will have one of his last chances at today's meeting to influence administration policy from a leadership position.
Hunter, 58, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, said he believes that creating a more effective Iraqi army can be accomplished within the next few months.
"It's a function of leadership and maturity and should not be a function of the calendar," Hunter said, continuing to reject a firm timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. "I think it can conceivably be done by the end of next year."
Hunter said Iraq is in what he calls the second stage of development. The first was creation of the new government followed by the establishment of sufficient domestic military capability and security forces to allow U.S. troops and forces from its remaining coalition partners to leave.
"Iraq remains in the second stage of that process and I think it can be done," Hunter said. "It's tough and it's dangerous but it is necessary and in my judgment absolutely doable."
Hunter said he wanted to wait to see the final Iraq Study Group report before commenting on its recommendations. According to published reports, the group headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former congressman and 9/11 Commission vice chairman Lee Hamilton will urge shifting U.S. troops from an active combat role to more of an advisory role and stepping up diplomatic efforts in the region to reduce the violence.
With Democrats winning control of the U.S. House in the November elections, Hunter is losing his committee chairmanship in the next Congress, which convenes in January.
He will remain on the panel he has served on since first being elected to Congress in 1980 and said he will continue to go to Iraq as the ranking minority party member of the Armed Services Committee.
The incoming chairman, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and his counterpart in the Senate, Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, will be left with a better-trained, -equipped and -paid military under the GOP control of Congress, Hunter said.
"We are leaving the Democrat Party with a military which is extremely strong," he said.
Skelton and Levin have each said they want to increase the House and Senate Armed Services committees' oversight of military policy and spending.
"Ike is a good friend and a guy with a real heart for the ordinary soldier," Hunter said.
Hunter continues to work on his longshot bid for the GOP 2008 presidential nomination, having traveled to South Carolina last week for an appearance at a steel mill and an address at Charleston Southern University.
He will announce the members of his presidential exploratory committee early next year and will make several trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, all early 2008 GOP primary states.
His message will focus on three areas -- a strong national defense, better border security and trade law improvements to end what he calls unfair advantages for countries such as China.
Hunter says he does not support sending more troops to Iraq.
San Diego Congressman Duncan Hunter is asking Americans to keep the Haditha hearings in perspective. KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps has more.
Eight Marines were charged at Camp Pendleton today in connection with 24 civilian deaths in Haditha, Iraq. Hunter says innocent or guilty, the accused Marines are a small part of America's armed forces.
- Hunter: We've had now over a million men and women serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they've served with honor. They've served in difficult places. And the vast, vast majority of them have done excellent jobs. And let's not have our media focus exclusively on what happened in one town on one day in Iraq.
Hunter also says he supports President Bush's plan to beef up the Army and Marine Corps. But Hunter says he does not support sending more troops to Iraq. The San Diego lawmaker is head of the House Armed Services Committee until Democrats take Congress in January.
An Iraq War Exit Strategy
proposed by Jeeni Criscenzo, Democratic Congressional Candidate, California District 49
“We need an exit strategy we choose or it will certainly be chosen for us.” -- Max Cleland Sept. 15 Hearing on Withdrawal chaired by Rep. Lynn Woolsey.
I call on our representatives in Congress to establish an exit strategy to our occupation of Iraq set to begin within 30 days with a timetable for complete withdrawal within six months. I offer the following plan as a starting point to initiate a dialogue on how to extract ourselves from this horrendous crime while taking steps to mitigate the devastating impact our departure will have on the people of Iraq, the stability in the Middle East and the security of our country:
- Mediation. Coordinate independent, third-party mediation with the goal of finding a diplomatic solution that brings all factions, including the Sunnis, into the political process, works out local peace agreements and safeguards the rights of women.
- Military de-escalation. Immediately end all search and destroy missions and replace with peace-keeping functions during the exit process. Set a timetable in months for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, beginning with an immediate initial troop reduction, and establishment of an international force to assist the Iraqi military in their own peace-keeping.
- No permanent bases. As long as we continue construction on 14 massive military bases in Iraq, we will continue to be perceived as occupiers. We must make it perfectly clear that we do not seek permanent military bases in Iraq.
- Relinquish control of Iraqi oil and resources. Not one of the series of reasons for going into Iraq offered by this administration said anything about taking their oil, but our actions have said it all along. The oil in Iraq belongs to Iraq and if we take it, we are stealing.
- Reconstruction financed by war profiteers, performed by Iraqis. Some U.S. corporations have reaped a bonanza from this military morass; many were awarded no-bid contracts and stole billions from the American taxpayers in over-billing and under-performance, often to the detriment of our troops. War profiteers should now foot the bill for reconstruction in Iraq, and reconstruction contracts should only be awarded to companies that employ the Iraqi people.
- Punish War Profiteers. Corporations and individuals (including legislators) suspected of war profiteering should be investigated and prosecuted. In addition to punishing the guilty, any corporation found to have engaged in war-profiteering should be banned from ever doing business with the U.S. government again.
- Do the Right Thing for Our Troops. Our troops signed up to defend us and now it’s our obligation to stand up to defend them. Americans were appalled to learn that our troops were sent into battle without armor, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Any exit strategy must include budgeting for the care and assistance our returning troops have earned. Our troops are returning from Iraq suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and radiation sickness due to exposure to depleted uranium in addition to horrendous injuries. While the administration proclaims that any calls to end the war hurt our troops, they continue to slash away at funding for VA benefits. We owe our veterans much more than a yellow ribbon sticker on our cars. We must provide our returning troops with the medical care they need, the opportunities for education and employment they have earned and help in making a transition into a civilian life that they deserve.
#6) The Kucinich Plan For Iraq
Submitted by Dennis Kucinich on Mon, 01/08/2007 - 21:54.
In November of 2006, after an October upsurge in violence in Iraq, the American people moved decisively to reject Republican rule, principally because of the conduct of the war. Democratic leaders well understand we regained control of the Congress because of the situation in Iraq. However, two months later, the Congress is still searching for a plan around which it can unite to hasten the end of US involvement in Iraq and the return home of 140,000 US troops.
There is a compelling need for a new direction in Iraq, one that recognizes the plight of the people of Iraq, the false and illegal basis of the United States war against Iraq, the realities on the ground which make a military resolution of the conflict unrealistic and the urgent responsibility of the United States, which caused the chaos, to use the process of diplomacy and international law to achieve stability in Iraq, a process which will establish peace and stability in Iraq allow our troops to return home with dignity.
The Administration is preparing to escalate the conflict. They intend to increase troop numbers to unprecedented levels, without establishing an ending date for the so-called troop surge. By definition, this escalation means a continuation of the occupation, more troop and civilian casualties, more anger toward the US, more support for the insurgency, more instability in Iraq and in the region, and prolonged civil war at a time when there is a general agreement in the world community that the solution in Iraq must be political not military. Iraq is now a training ground for insurgents who practice against our troops.
What is needed is a comprehensive political process. And the decision is not President Bush's alone to make.
Congress, as a coequal branch of government has a responsibility to assist in the initiation of this process. Congress, under Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution has the war-making power. Congress appropriates funds for the war. Congress does not dispense with its obligation to the American people simply by opposing a troop surge in Iraq.
There are 140,000 troops remaining in Iraq right now. What about them? When will they come home? Why would we leave those troops in Iraq when we have the money to bring them home? Soon the President will ask for more money for the war. Why would Congress appropriate more money to keep the troops in Iraq through the end of President Bush's term, at a total cost of upwards of two trillion dollars and thousands of more troop casualties, when military experts say there is no military solution? Our soldiers stand for us in the field, we must to stand for them in our legislature by bringing them home.
It is simply not credible to maintain that one opposes the war and yet continues to fund it. This contradiction runs as a deep fault line through our politics, undermining public trust in the political process and in those elected to represent the people. If you oppose the war, then do not vote to fund it.
If you have money which can be used to bring the troops home or to prosecute the war, do not say you want to bring the troops home while you appropriate money in a supplemental to keep them in Iraq fighting a war that cannot be won militarily. This is why the Administration should be notified now that Congress will not approve of the appropriations request of up to $160 billion in the spring for the purposes of continuing the occupation and the war. Continuing to fund the war is not a plan. It would represent the continuation of disaster.
The US sent our troops into Iraq without a clear mission. We created a financial, military and moral dilemma for our nation and now we are talking about the Iraq war as our problem. The Iraqis are forgotten. Their country has been destroyed: 650,000 casualties, [based on the Lancet Report which surveyed casualties from March of 2003 to July of 2006] the shredding of the social fabric of the nation, civil war, lack of access to food, shelter, electricity, clean drinking water and health care because this Administration, with the active participation of the Congress, authorized a war without reason, without conscience, without international law.
The US thinks in terms of solving our own military, strategic, logistical, and political problems. The US can determine how to solve our problems, but the Iraqi people will have problems far into the future. This requires an intensive focus on the processes needed to stabilize Iraq. If you solve the Iraqi problem you solve the US problem. Any comprehensive plan for Iraq must take into account as a primary matter the conditions and the needs of the Iraqi people, while providing our nation with a means of righting grievous wrongs and taking steps to regain US credibility and felicity within the world community.
I am offering such a plan today. This plan responds to the concerns of a majority of Americans. On Tuesday, when Congress resumes its work, I will present this plan to leadership and members as the only viable alternative to the Bush Administration's policy of continued occupation and escalation. Congress must know that it cannot and must not stand by and watch our troops and innocent Iraqi civilians die.
These are the elements of the Kucinich Plan:
1. The US announces it will end the occupation, close military bases and withdraw. The insurgency has been fueled by the occupation and the prospect of a long-term presence as indicated by the building of permanent bases. A US declaration of an intention to withdraw troops and close bases will help dampen the insurgency which has been inspired to resist colonization and fight invaders and those who have supported US policy. Furthermore this will provide an opening where parties within Iraq and in the region can set the stage for negotiations towards peaceful settlement.
2. US announces that it will use existing funds to bring the troops and necessary equipment home. Congress appropriated $70 billion in bridge funds on October 1st for the war. Money from this and other DOD accounts can be used to fund the troops in the field over the next few months, and to pay for the cost of the return of the troops, (which has been estimated at between $5 and $7 billion dollars) while a political settlement is being negotiated and preparations are made for a transition to an international security and peacekeeping force.
3. Order a simultaneous return of all US contractors to the United States and turn over all contracting work to the Iraqi government. The contracting process has been rife with world-class corruption, with contractors stealing from the US Government and cheating the Iraqi people, taking large contracts and giving 5% or so to Iraqi subcontractors.
Reconstruction activities must be reorganized and closely monitored in Iraq by the Iraqi government, with the assistance of the international community. The massive corruption as it relates to US contractors, should be investigated by congressional committees and federal grand juries. The lack of tangible benefits, the lack of accountability for billions of dollars, while millions of Iraqis do not have a means of financial support, nor substantive employment, cries out for justice.
It is noteworthy that after the first Gulf War, Iraqis reestablished electricity within three months, despite sanctions. Four years into the US occupation there is no water, nor reliable electricity in Baghdad, despite massive funding from the US and from the Madrid conference. The greatest mystery involves the activities of private security companies who function as mercenaries. Reports of false flag operations must be investigated by an international tribunal.
4. Convene a regional conference for the purpose of developing a security and stabilization force for Iraq. The focus should be on a process which solves the problems of Iraq. The US has told the international community, "This is our policy and we want you to come and help us implement it." The international community may have an interest in helping Iraq, but has no interest in participating in the implementation of failed US policy.
A shift in US policy away from unilateralism and toward cooperation will provide new opportunities for exploring common concerns about the plight of Iraq. The UN is the appropriate place to convene, through the office of the Secretary General, all countries that have interests, concerns and influence, including the five permanent members of the Security Council and the European community, and all Arab nations.
The end of the US occupation and the closing of military bases are necessary preconditions for such a conference. When the US creates a shift of policy and announces it will focus on the concerns of the people of Iraq, it will provide a powerful incentive for nations to participate.
It is well known that while some nations may see the instability in Iraq as an opportunity, there is also an even-present danger that the civil war in Iraq threatens the stability of nations throughout the region. The impending end of the occupation will provide a breakthrough for the cooperation between the US and the UN and the UN and countries of the region. The regional conference must include Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
5. Prepare an international security and peacekeeping force to move in, replacing US troops who then return home. The UN has an indispensable role to play here, but cannot do it as long as the US is committed to an occupation. The UN is the only international organization with the ability to mobilize and the legitimacy to authorize troops.
The UN is the place to develop the process, to build the political consensus, to craft a political agreement, to prepare the ground for the peacekeeping mission, to implement the basis of an agreement that will end the occupation and begin the transition to international peacekeepers. This process will take at least three months from the time the US announces the intention to end the occupation.
The US will necessarily have to fund a peacekeeping mission, which, by definition will not require as many troops. Fifty percent of the peacekeeping troops must come from nations with large Muslim populations. The international security force, under UN direction, will remain in place until the Iraqi government is capable of handling its own security. The UN can field an international security and peacekeeping mission, but such an initiative will not take shape unless there is a peace to keep, and that will be dependent upon a political process which reaches agreement between all the Iraqi parties. Such an agreement means fewer troops will be needed.
According to UN sources, the UN the peacekeeping mission in the Congo, which is four times larger in area than Iraq, required about twenty thousand troops. Finally the UN does not mobilize quickly because they depend upon governments to supply the troops, and governments are slow. The ambition of the UN is to deploy in less than ninety days. However, without an agreement of parties the UN is not likely to approve a mission to Iraq, because countries will not give them troops.
6. Develop and fund a process of national reconciliation. The process of reconciliation must begin with a national conference, organized with the assistance of the UN and with the participation of parties who can create, participate in and affect the process of reconciliation, defined as an airing of all grievances and the creation of pathways toward open, transparent talks producing truth and resolution of grievances. The Iraqi government has indicated a desire for the process of reconciliation to take place around it, and that those who were opposed to the government should give up and join the government. Reconciliation must not be confused with capitulation, nor with realignments for the purposes of protecting power relationships.
For example, Kurds need to be assured that their own autonomy will be regarded and therefore obviate the need for the Kurds to align with religious Shia for the purposes of self-protection. The problem in Iraq is that every community is living in fear. The Shia, who are the majority fear they will not be allowed to government even though they are a majority. The Kurds are afraid they will lose the autonomy they have gained. The Sunnis think they will continue to be made to pay for the sins of Saddam.
A reconciliation process which brings people together is the only way to overcome their fears and reconcile their differences. It is essential to create a minimum of understanding and mutual confidence between the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.
But how can a reconciliation process be constructed in Iraq when there is such mistrust: Ethnic cleansing is rampant. The police get their money from the US and their ideas from Tehran. They function as religious militia, fighting for supremacy, while the Interior Ministry collaborates. Two or three million people have been displaced. When someone loses a family member, a loved one, a friend, the first response is likely to be that there is no reconciliation.
It is also difficult to move toward reconciliation when one or several parties engaged in the conflict think they can win outright. The Shia, some of whom are out for revenge, think they can win because they have the defacto support of the US. The end of the US occupation will enhance the opportunity for the Shia to come to an accommodation with the Sunnis. They have the oil, the weapons, and support from Iran. They have little interest in reconciling with those who are seen as Baathists.
The Sunnis think they have experience, as the former army of Saddam, boasting half a million people insurgents. The Sunnis have so much more experience and motivation that as soon as the Americans leave they believe they can defeat the Shia government. Any Sunni revenge impulses can be held in check by international peacekeepers. The only sure path toward reconciliation is through the political process. All factions and all insurgents not with al Queda must be brought together in a relentless process which involves Saudis, Turks and Iranians.
7. Reconstruction and Jobs. Restart the failed reconstruction program in Iraq. Rebuild roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and other public facilities, houses, and factories with jobs and job training going to local Iraqis.
8. Reparations. The US and Great Britain have a high moral obligation to enable a peace process by beginning a program of significant reparations to the people of Iraq for the loss of lives, physical and emotional injuries, and damage to property. There should be special programs to rescue the tens of thousands of Iraqi orphans from lives of destitution. This is essential to enable reconciliation.
9. Political Sovereignty. Put an end to suspicions that the US invasion and occupation was influenced by a desire to gain control of Iraq's oil assets by A) setting aside initiatives to privatize Iraqi oil interests or other national assets, and B) by abandoning efforts to change Iraqi national law to facilitate privatization.
Any attempt to sell Iraqi oil assets during the US occupation will be a significant stumbling block to peaceful resolution. The current Iraqi constitution gives oil proceeds to the regions and the central government gets nothing. There must be fairness in the distribution of oil resources in Iraq. An Iraqi National Oil Trust should be established to guarantee the oil assets will be used to create a fully functioning infrastructure with financial mechanisms established protect the oil wealth for the use of the people of Iraq.
10. Iraq Economy. Set forth a plan to stabilize Iraq's cost for food and energy, on par to what the prices were before the US invasion and occupation. This would block efforts underway to raise the price of food and energy at a time when most Iraqis do not have the means to meet their own needs.
11. Economic Sovereignty. Work with the world community to restore Iraq's fiscal integrity without structural readjustment measures of the IMF or the World Bank.
12. International Truth and Reconciliation. Establish a policy of truth and reconciliation between the people of the United States and the people of Iraq. In 2002, I led the effort in the House of Representatives challenging the Bush Administration's plans to go to war in Iraq. I organized 125 Democrats to vote against the Iraq war resolution. The analysis I offered at that time stands out in bold relief for its foresight when compared to the assessments of many who today aspire to national leadership. Just as the caution I urged four years ago was well-placed, so the plan I am presenting today is workable, and it responds to the will of the American people, expressed this past November. This is a moment for clarity and foresight. This is a moment to take a new direction in Iraq. One with honor and dignity. One which protects our troops and rescues Iraqi civilians. One which repairs our relationship with Iraqis and with the world.
Dennis J Kucinich
let's place our bases around all of the major oil fields
Can't See wrote on January 10, 2007 11:34 AM: "What is it that President Bush and his cronies can't understand? The US people do not want this country spending any more money and lives in a country where the majority of the population doesn't appreciate our sacrifices and, more importantly,are not willing to do themselves what it would take to improve the living conditions. If we want the oil then let's place our bases around all of the major oil fields and let the Iraqi's have the cities to fight over. "