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    23 March 2006

    The Democrats DO Have a Plan for Iraq

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    I'm sooooo sick of that long standing Reepub talking point - often the first one on the list - that claims that the Dems have no plan for Iraq. The truth is that we do and a side point is that the Republicans never had a plan to begin with, only a handful of speculation, halftruths and outright lies. Those who repeat this blatent lie must have forgotten Rep. Murtha's plan for strategic redeployment, a plan I don't fully back because it would pull out the troops to fast. This would create a vacume which is what started this mess in the first place. But an alternative plan supported by several Democrats and authored by a former Reagan Asst. Sec. of Defense that sounds pretty logical and is NOT written around US domestic politics.
    The proposal says the United States should draw down its troop presence from its present level of 136,000 to 60,000 by the end of the year, and to virtually zero by the end of 2007. It also encourages more vigorous diplomacy in the region and in Iraq, to bring the country's factions together, and redeploys some of the troops leaving Iraq to other countries where anti-American terrorists appear to be gaining footholds.

    The gradual drawdown would allow U.S. troops to continue providing crucial support to the nascent Iraqi security forces. (The performance of Iraqi security forces, while it has not met expectations, has by most accounts improved.) But the plan also clears the way for a political solution and recognizes that current troop levels are unsustainable without a draft.
    Under strategic redeployment, all Guard and reserve troops would be demobilized and would immediately return to the United States. This would allow the Guard and reserve to return to their policies of troops not spending more than one year out of five on active duty and let the Guard focus on shoring up gaps in homeland security.

    Approximately 20,000 soldiers would be sent this year to bolster U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan and support counterterrorist operations in Africa and Asia. In Afghanistan, more troops are urgently needed to beat back the resurging Taliban forces and to maintain security throughout the country. In the Horn of Africa, countries like Somalia remain a breeding ground for terrorists.

    Another 14,000 of the soldiers serving in Iraq would be positioned nearby in Kuwait starting this year. Along with a Marine expeditionary force located offshore in the Persian Gulf, these ``over the horizon'' forces would be well-positioned to strike at any terrorist camps in Iraq and guard against any major acts that risk further destabilizing the region, such as an incursion of conventional forces from Turkey or Iran into Iraq.

    Even with all those redeployments, the number of soldiers deployed overseas in the war on terror would drop by more than 40,000 in the first year. This would enable the Army and Marines to return to the time-tested policy of allowing a soldier or Marine to spend at least two months at home for every month deployed abroad.

    The key to strategic redeployment is that it acknowledges up front that Iraq's problems cannot be solved by American boots on the ground. A timetable for withdrawal will spur Iraq's battling factions to try harder to reach a compromise before U.S. troops leave. But U.S. leaders should also actively work to help Iraqi leaders negotiate and to draw in leaders from the region.

    The redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq requires that Iraq's neighbors play a more active role in supporting Iraq's stability and reconstruction. Iraq's neighbors have a better chance of persuading recalcitrant Iraqis to compromise than we do. It was, after all, regional diplomacy and engagement that put an end to Lebanon's civil war. Thursday's announcement that Iran and the United States had agreed to hold talks on how to halt Iraq's sectarian violence was welcome news.

    If you're going to claim that someone doesn't have something, please take a moment to check.

    Posted by Geoff

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