When the new Congress takes office in January, it will be time to get serious about America’s strategy in Iraq. It’s time to change course.
That’s why today we ask the president, his handpicked Iraq Study Group (led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton), and congressional leaders to consider our reasoned, pragmatic plan to strategically redeploy our military forces in Iraq and around the region to fight our terrorist enemies in the most effective and most lethal fashion possible.
One year ago the Center for American Progress issued its first report calling for a responsible exit from Iraq as part of a balanced global strategy to make Americans safer. We reiterated that call six months later as subsequent events only underscored the need to act on our proposals. Today, the situation in Iraq is even more dire.
Violence in Iraq is spiraling out of control as it turns inward, with sectarian killings surpassing deaths from terrorist bombings and militias splintering the country. Squabbling among Iraqi leaders makes matters worse. America simply must adjust to the grim realities on the ground.
The Bush administration’s mistakes in Iraq – invading for the wrong reasons and without enough troops to secure the country – have left us with no good options. It’s understandable that a growing number of Americans are calling for an immediate withdrawal, but we believe that would only further destabilize Iraq and much of the Middle East. Accordingly, we are calling for a comprehensive strategic redeployment from Iraq by the end of 2007 that will:
- Restore the strength of U.S. ground troops.
- Exercise a strategic shift to meet global threats from Islamist extremists.
- Prevent U.S. troops from being caught in the middle of a civil war in Iraq.
- Avert mass sectarian and ethnic cleansing in Iraq.
- Provide time for Iraq’s elected leaders to strike a power-sharing agreement.
- Empower Iraq’s security forces to take control.
- Get those Iraqis fighting to end the occupation to lay down their arms.
- Motivate the U.N., global, and regional powers to get more involved in Iraq.
- Give the U.S. the moral, political, and military power to deal with Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons.
- Prevent an outbreak of isolationism in the United States.
The end goals of this strategic shift are clear, but to accomplish it the United States must implement a policy of strategic redeployment that:
- Reduces U.S. troops to 60,000 by the end of 2006 and to zero by the end of 2007, while redeploying troops to Afghanistan, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf.
- Engages in diplomacy to resolve the conflict within Iraq by convening a Geneva Peace Conference modeled on the Dayton Accords.
- Establishes a Gulf Security initiative to deal with the aftermath of U.S. redeployment from Iraq and the growing nuclear capabilities of Iran.
- Puts Iraq’s reconstruction back on track with targeted international funds.
- Counters extremist Islamic ideology around the globe through long-term efforts to support the creation of democratic institutions and press freedoms.
Only after the United States has set the conditions for redeployment out of Iraq in order to engage the global strategic threats our nation faces can Americans rest assured that they will be safer. For more details on the report, please see our executive summary, the full report, and related materials gathered by the Center for American Progress elsewhere on our website.
Strategic Redeployment 2.0: Read the executive summary and full report here (PDF)
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