Consensus for Redeployment Grows

Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb Testifies to Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses alternative strategies move forward in Iraq amid consensus that the “surge” will be unsuccessful.

“If you don’t leave Iraq you are not going to win the war on terror,” Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb emphasized to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.

Committee Chairman Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) called the hearing to discuss alternative plans to President Bush’s “surge” in order to avoid that devastating scenario. Biden emphasized the growing consensus among experts that the military escalation would not lead to success in Iraq, and that the way forward must include redeploying American forces and engaging with Iraq’s neighbors.

Korb offered advice to the Committee on these issues, suggesting that a “diplomatic surge” combined with an emphasis on a political resolution to the conflict is essential to resolving the conflict in Iraq. “The problem with the Iraqi security forces isn’t training, it’s motivation,’ he said, “and you won’t have that until [the Iraqi government] makes these political compromises…They had their elections a year ago, and in that time we have lost a battalion worth of troops while they have been diddling.”

Korb also highlighted the need for redeployment in order to spur the Iraqi government and its neighbors into action. “Many are fighting because they see it as an American occupation,” he explained, “they all have an interest in stability, once they know that we won’t be there forever they will be willing to cooperate.”

Committee members and witnesses agreed with Korb on most of these recommendations, creating a “remarkable consensus” according to Biden. Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) passionately promoted these policy solutions and urged for a responsible redeployment. Emphasizing that there is no possible military solution, Murtha stated, “We have to use diplomacy, it will be the key in the end”

Even the conservative former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and that redeployment is a legitimate strategy, breaking with the president’s assertions that no reasonable alternative strategies to the “surge” have been presented.

The call for redeployment of troops and a diplomatic surge aligns with what the Center for American Progress has been saying for a long time—we need a new strategy in Iraq. The Center for American Progress first released its report Strategic Redeployment last May, and has since updated it with a memo on The Critical Choice in Iraq. Many of the ideas encapsulated in these reports were part of Tuesday’s debate, and are now part of congressional legislation aimed at providing an alternative to the Bush administration’s military escalation plans. The responsible path is clear.

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