As Sadr City other Iraqi neighborhoods are rocked by airstrikes and
sniper fire, President Bush announced he’ll end his presidency with an
troop presence just as large as it’s been for most of the war.
At Groundswell we’ve been reporting that the president’s preferred
successor keeps those Iraq war bloopers coming. These gaffes reveal he
hasn’t grappled with the Iraqi situation’s complexity. Since we aim to
be truly fair and balanced we’ve also reported that Senators Hillary
Clinton and Barack Obama are running on anti-war platforms while supporting Iraq plans that initiate withdrawal and then leave tens of
thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely.
Meanwhile, yesterday Republican foreign policy leaders worried aloud in the New York Times that John McCain hasn’t done his homework on Iraq
and other issues. So … we have a short reading list for you as well as
the presidential candidates to gain a more detailed understanding of
the situation on the ground in Iraq and to understand why the U.S.
troop presence is counterproductive from a security, political and
diplomatic point of view.
One plan we support is the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq put
forward by military experts and several candidates for Congress. The
plan can be downloaded at www.reponsibleplan.com. Another plan that
avoids leaving a large residual troop force is outlined in “After the
Surge,” a report by Steven Simon. Simon was a member of the Clinton
administration’s National Security Council. Over at the Center for
American Progress, Brian Katulis, Larry Korb and Peter Juul have their Strategic Reset report outlining a phased redeployment plan to take
place over one year. (And our friends at the Project for Defense
Alternatives have a nifty web resource that has links to dozens of experts’ plans that
bring the troops home.)
Don’t get me wrong. There are aspects of these plans we don’t agree
with. But they all share the point of view that there is no military
solution to the violence in Iraq. They are all based on a careful and
nuanced study of facts on the ground (John McCain take notes) and they
arrive at comprehensive approaches that include diplomatic, economic,
humanitarian and political tools to get the job done without leaving a
large U.S. residual troop presence.
There has been a lot of rhetoric thrown around about who is “ready to
be Commander in Chief on day one”. (Cue ringing phone in early morning
darkness.) Surely qualification as a strong Commander in Chief goes
beyond fighting in uniform, working in the White House, or serving on
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All the candidates would do
well to integrate the studies linked to above and then put forth the
plan, the wisdom, the political courage, and the leadership to truly
bring all of the troops home from Iraq.