Sunday, January 14

Bush Says "Show me Your Plan"

President Bush on Saturday [1/13/07] 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.

Forgetting for a moment that he is our Commander-in-Chief and should have asked for alternatives prior to making his own announcement, he asks a valid question.

So what are the Democrats' plans? Here are the plans that announced candidate's for President in 2008 propose.

Sen. Joe Biden's Plan (August 2006)

The five-point plan [General Les Gelb and] I laid out offers a better way.

First, the plan calls for maintaining a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions. The central government would be left in charge of common interests, such as border security and the distribution of oil revenue.

Second, it would bind the Sunnis to the deal by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue. Each group would have an incentive to maximize oil production, making oil the glue that binds the country together.

Third, the plan would create a massive jobs program while increasing reconstruction aid -- especially from the oil-rich Gulf states -- but tying it to the protection of minority rights.

Fourth, it would convene an international conference that would produce a regional nonaggression pact and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.

Fifth, it would begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007, while maintaining a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.

This plan is consistent with Iraq's constitution, which already provides for the country'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 militias, which are likely to retreat to their respective regions instead of engaging in acts of violence. This plan is consistent with a strong central government that has clearly defined responsibilities. Indeed, it provides an agenda for that government, whose mere existence will not end sectarian violence. This plan is not partition -- in fact, it may be the only way to prevent violent partition and preserve a unified Iraq.

Sen. Christopher Dodd's Plan (January 2006)

The time for blunt force is long past. Instead, we ought to withdraw our combat troops from urban centers of sectarian conflict, where they are simply cannon fodder. We ought to focus on training reliable Iraqi security forces whose allegiance is to the greater Iraqi people, not to any specific sect. We need to redouble counterterrorism efforts and border security to deny al-Qaeda a failed-state foothold. And, perhaps most importantly, we must engage Iraq’s leaders and its neighbors to promote political reconciliation.

If the only solution to Iraq a is political one, diplomacy is the only weapon we have left.

What has the administration been doing in the last four weeks? Since the time the Iraq Study Group’s report was released, almost 100 American soldiers have been killed and by many estimates, four to five thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed in the widening strife.

And the President’s solution to all of this was to ignore the most important recommendations of the Iraq Study Group – namely “robust diplomacy,” and instead settle on an escalation of our current combat strategy.

This is a tactic in search of a strategy, and it will not bring us a stable Iraq.

The American people have spent $14 billion training and equipping 300,000 Iraqi police and security forces. Yet, today, 23 separate sectarian militias operate with impunity throughout Baghdad. Sectarian killings continue largely unabated—averaging scores of deaths a day, and thousands a month. This is not random violence: It is a targeted civil war, complete with ethnic cleansing.

Those of us who have been to Iraq recently have seen it with our own eyes and heard it with our own ears.

Beyond that, president’s own intelligence experts have told us that the Islamic world is growing more radical, and that the terrorist threat is greater today than it was on 9/11—not despite, but because of the continuing war in Iraq. Iraq, they conclude, has become both a physical and an ideological training ground for the next generation of extremists.

The wider region has been further plunged into violence, Hezbollah has crippled the Lebanese government, civil war in the Palestinian territories now seems more likely than ever, Syria and Iran are more powerful and emboldened than they’ve been in recent memory. We are further away from stabilizing Afghanistan, as drug traffickers and tribal warfare now threaten to destroy its nascent democracy, and the Taliban is stronger now than at any point since our invasion.

And perhaps, most troubling of all is our standing in the world. According to the Pew Center for Global Opinion, more people in Great Britain, France, Spain, Russia, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Nigeria, India and China think that the War in Iraq is a greater danger to world peace than either Iran or North Korea. The President says we are in a “war of ideas.” But how can we possibly win a war between democracy and extremism when so much of the world considers us to be the threat?

Isn’t it the State Department’s job to engage in this debate and win the world over, or at least try? Instead we’ve had year after year of inaction, bellicose rhetoric, a categorical refusal to ask for help, to work collectively, to engage—and what has it bought us?

Sen. John Edward's Plan (October 2005)

A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing the American presence, building Iraq's capacity and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help.

First, we need to remove the image of an imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary KBR, then KBR should go. Such departures, and the return of the work to Iraqi businesses, would be a real statement about our hopes for the new nation.

We also need to show Iraq and the world that we will not stay there forever. We've reached the point where the large number of our troops in Iraq hurts, not helps, our goals. Therefore, early next year, after the Iraqi elections, when a new government has been created, we should begin redeployment of a significant number of troops out of Iraq. This should be the beginning of a gradual process to reduce our presence and change the shape of our military's deployment in Iraq. Most of these troops should come from National Guard or Reserve forces.

That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better-trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country.

Second, this redeployment should work in concert with a more effective training program for Iraqi forces. We should implement a clear plan for training and hard deadlines for certain benchmarks to be met. To increase incentives, we should implement a schedule showing that, as we certify Iraqi troops as trained and equipped, a proportional number of U.S. troops will be withdrawn.

Third, we must launch a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort. We should bring Iraq's neighbors and our key European allies into a diplomatic process to get Iraq on its feet. The president needs to create a unified international front.

Too many mistakes have already been made for this to be easy. Yet we must take these steps to succeed. The American people, the Iraqi people and -- most important -- our troops who have died or been injured there, and those who are fighting there today, deserve nothing less.

Edwards on January 9, 2007

"George Bush's expected decision to adopt the McCain Doctrine and escalate the war in Iraq is a grave mistake.

"The new Congress must intercede to stop Bush from stubbornly sticking to the same failed course in Iraq and refuse to authorize funding for an escalation of troops. They should make it clear to the President that he will not get any money to put more of our troops in harm's way until he provides a plan to turn responsibility of Iraq over to the Iraqi people and to ultimately leave Iraq. George Bush wants to dig a deeper hole, but we need to climb out.

"The situation in Iraq demands a political solution — the Iraqi people must take responsibility for their country. Escalating the war in Iraq, which our own generals agree won't help, sends the wrong message to the Iraqi people, to the region, and the world. In order to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their country, we must show them that we are serious about leaving, and the best way to do that is to actually start leaving and immediately withdraw 40–50,000 troops. Once the U.S. starts leaving, the Iraqi people and other regional powers will be forced to step up and engage in the search for a political solution that can bring an end to sectarian violence and allow reconstruction to take hold, creating — as should have been done long ago — Iraqi jobs for Iraqis."

Sen. Michael Gravel's Plan (December 2006)

Senator Gravel believes that the United States should withdraw from Iraq immediately – “not six months from now, but now.” He believes that the Baker Commission on Iraq is likely to come out with a plan that seems reasonable that would keep US troops in Iraq for another two years. Gravel asked, “What’s reasonable? What is reasonable when you’re killing American solders every day – when you’re killing foreigners – is to stop.” He believes that the likely Baker plan will be crafted to maintain “American hegemony” over Iraqi oil in the long run.

He believes that the motivations for going to war in the first place were related to Iraq’s oil. One of these motivations in his view was to prevent Saddam Hussein from re-denominating the sale of Iraq’s oil in euros from dollars - something that could have had a disastrous effect on the dollar. He also believes that certain senior US leaders, including Vice President Dick Cheney, wanted control of Iraq’s oil in order to cement influence over the world economy as a whole.

He believes that

the tragedy for the world and ourselves is that they’re using all this treasure for this ill-advised adventure in Iraq to sustain our ascendancy in power over the oil economy in the world which is what is causing global warming when in point of fact we should be using this treasure to get ourselves off this carbon dependency and move into energy alternatives.

When asked whether he was concerned that an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would lead to an expansion of Iranian influence over Iraq, Gravel said “No. I have no concerns about that.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich's Plan for ending the war in Iraq (January 10, 2007)

  1. The U.S. announces it will end the occupation, close the military bases, and withdraw.
  2. The U.S. announces that it will use existing funds to bring the troops home and the necessary equipment home.
  3. We will order a simultaneous return of all U.S. contractors to the United States and turn over the contracting work to the Iraqi government.
  4. We'll convene a regional conference for the purpose of developing a security and stabilization force for Iraq.
  5. Prepare an international security peacekeeping force to move in, replacing U.S. troops, who then return home.
  6. Develop and fund a process of national reconciliation.
  7. We have to once again restart the programs for reconstructions and jobs for the Iraqi people.
  8. Reparations for the damage that's been done to the lives of Iraqis.
  9. Assuring the political sovereignty of Iraq and making sure that their oil isn't stolen.
  10. Repairing the Iraqi economy.
  11. Economic sovereignty for Iraq. And,
  12. An international truth and reconciliation process, which establishes a policy of truth and reconciliation between the people of the United States and Iraq.

And last but assuredly not least Gov. Tom Vilsack

Your [John McCain's] suggestion to deploy additional American servicemen and women to Iraq would make a big mistake even bigger and send the wrong message to President Bush, who has stubbornly refused to recognize that his Administration's military and diplomatic failures in Iraq have recklessly endangered America's national interests.

Additional troop deployments would also make the Iraqi government more dependent - instead of less dependent -- on the American military presence. Our efforts should be focused on including more countries in the reconstruction effort and strengthening local governments across Iraq."

"I welcome the view of Congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that President Bush's plan to boost troop levels in Iraq is wrong. In early December, I expressed my fundamental opposition to leading more troops into harm's way in Iraq because I think it would make a big mistake even bigger. We've stretched our military too thin already, and even our top U.S. commanders agree that adding troops won't solve the political problem. I'm glad we agree on this."

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack calling on Congress to block funding for a troop increase. But Vilsack said he is wary of holding back funds to try to force the return of troops already deployed in Iraq."I'm not willing to suggest we have a cutting off of funds that would really put people in greater danger than they are today," Vilsack told the AP.

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