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Sen. Obama offers plan to stop escalation of Iraq war

Mike Sheehan
Published: Tuesday January 30, 2007
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2008 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is offering his own plan to stop the continued escalation of the war in Iraq, according to a press release.

Sen. Obama's stated goal is "to redeploy all combat brigades out of Iraq."

The junior senator from Illinois introduced the legislation today, the release saying that it "not only reverses the President's dangerous and ill-conceived escalation of the Iraq war, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war" and return American soldiers home.

"Our troops have preformed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war," said the senator. "That's why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence."

The statement asserts that the Obama plan puts forth a "responsible yet effective alternative to the President's failed policy of escalation." The plan maintains that Iraq's woes cannot be solved militarily, and focuses rather on finding a political solution in Iraq while "protecting our interests in the region" and ending the war.

Obama's plan to remove combat units from Iraq by the end of March 2008 is, per the statement, "consistent with the expectation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group," but does allow for a limited number of troops to remain "as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to continue the training" of Iraq's struggling security forces.

"The American people have been asked to be patient too many times, too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent," the statement quotes Sen. Obama. "It's time for a policy that can bring a responsible end to this war and bring our troops home."

Key elements of the Obama plan, as outlined in a fact sheet attached to the statement, follow:

  • Stops the Escalation: Caps the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007. This does not affect the funding for our troops in Iraq. This cap has the force of law and could not be lifted without explicit Congressional authorization.
  • De-escalates the War with Phased Redeployment: Commences a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. This redeployment will be both substantial and gradual, and will be planned and implemented by military commanders. Makes clear that Congress believes troops should be redeployed to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region. A residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.
  • Enforces Tough Benchmarks for Progress: These 13 benchmarks are based on President Bush’s own statements and Administration documents and include:

    • Security: Significant progress toward fulfilling security commitments, including eliminating restrictions on U.S. forces, reducing sectarian violence, reducing the size and influence of the militias, and strengthening the Iraqi Army and Police.

    • Political Accommodation: Significant progress toward reaching a political solution, including equitable sharing of oil revenues, revision of de-Baathification, provincial elections, even-handed provision of government services, and a fair process for a constitutional amendment to achieve national reconciliation.

    • Economic Progress: Requires Iraq to fulfill its commitment to spend not less than $20 billion for reconstruction, job creation, and economic development without regard for the ethnic or sectarian make-up of Iraqi regions.

    Should these benchmarks be met, the plan allows for the temporary suspension of this redeployment, subject to the agreement of Congress.

  • Congressional oversight: Requires the President to submit reports to Congress every 90 days describing and assessing the Iraqi government's progress in meeting benchmarks and the redeployment goals.
  • Intensified Training: Intensifies training of Iraqi security forces to enable the country to take over security responsibility of the country.
  • Conditions on Economic Assistance: Conditions future economic assistance to the Government of Iraq on significant progress toward achievement of benchmarks. Allows exceptions for humanitarian, security, and job-creation assistance.
  • Regional Diplomacy: Launches a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative – that includes key nations in the region – to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people, end the civil war in Iraq, and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and regional conflict. Recommends the President should appoint a Special Envoy for Iraq to carry out this diplomacy within 60 days. Mandates that the President submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.
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    The statement in full is available at Sen. Obama's official site.