The war in Iraq is far from a mission accomplished. Today we face a crisis with grave implications for our national security and the future of the Iraqi people. The Bush Administration's mismanagement of post-war Iraq has left the United States unprepared for the instability that continues to grow. America is standing virtually alone in confronting a counter-insurgency struggle with no clear end in sight. The United States can still succeed in Iraq and fulfill its commitments to the Iraqi people, but it will require a plan – one that provides for new international arrangements to manage the political, security and economic aspects of Iraq's transition.
Iraq: A Strategy for Progress aims to achieve five principal objectives:
• To position the United States to meet the challenges we face in Iraq;
• To establish a clear path for a political transition until Iraqi elections;
• To secure our significant military and financial investments to date;
• To build a strong international coalition; and
• To enlist sustainable and popular support here at home for ongoing operations in Iraq.
There are five major elements of the Center for American Progress plan:
First, President Bush should immediately convene an emergency International Summit on Iraq to enlist support for a strategic shift in direction and to strike concrete agreements with other key nations. The Summit would provide an opportunity for the President to confer with other heads of state and to develop consensus on the international architecture for political, security and economic arrangements in Iraq. The Summit's goal should be to establish an Iraq Contact Group which would assume an international oversight role until free and fair elections can be held in Iraq.
Second, building on the blueprint of U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the Bush Administration should work with the Security Council to authorize the creation of an international High Representative for Iraq to work under the authority of the Contact Group. The Representative would be charged with enforcing and ensuring the transition from the proposed Iraqi caretaker government to an elected government, making a clean break from the U.S. pattern of insisting on total control and building credibility among the Iraqi people. At the same time, to support this transition, the United States should open the new American embassy in Baghdad as quickly as possible.
Third, the Administration should request that NATO assume command of the military stabilization operation in Iraq and increase the current coalition troop level to adequately meet the security challenge. The plan calls for increasing the total military force, including American and international troops, to at least 200,000. To better manage security during the critical transition to elections of a permanent government, the United States should increase troop levels to 150,000 by moving up the deployment of troops. The Administration must also make a concerted effort to double non-American military participation in the NATO-led force to at least 50,000 troops, with a special emphasis on recruiting units from moderate Muslim countries.
Fourth, the Administration should promote the creation of a new Iraqi Transition and Reconstruction Fund to build and sustain Iraqi capacity, and develop a detailed proposal for an Oil Trust Fund. The new Fund would take over responsibility from the fund now administered by the Coalition Provisional Authority that distributes Iraqi oil revenues, repatriated assets, and remaining oil-for-food funds into the Iraqi budget.
Finally, President Bush and the Congress should work together to fund military operations and reconstruction from the regular budget. President Bush must also level with the American people and work in a bipartisan manner with their representatives in Congress.