It’s time the Bush Administration and its conservative allies in Congress face the facts about Iraq that everyday American soldiers and officers in combat know stone cold: No good military options exist to separate Iraq’s warring ethnic factions amid their escalating civil war. What is needed is a political deal that includes a clear plan for the redeployment of U.S. forces to better fight the real terrorist threats to our nation and put Iraq on a path to domestic peace.
America needs to reassume control of its national security by setting a plan for completing the military mission at a time of our choosing, not when Iraqi leaders decide to take charge of their own affairs. President Bush and his chief policymakers understand the changing face of global terrorist networks, but they refuse to acknowledge that their failed policies in Iraq are contributing to the strength of Islamic terrorism. In the President’s September 5 speech, he noted that our terrorist enemies today are more decentralized and more dangerous that ever before. He’s right, yet he still insists that Iraq remains the principal battleground in the fight against terrorism.
The administration’s wrong-headed focus on Iraq is as mistaken today as it was five years ago. What’s needed is a new strategic direction. Our brave soldiers have done their share by getting rid of Saddam Hussein and giving the Iraqi people a chance to build a new country. But as the situation in Iraq slips deeper into a full blown civil war, the time has come to redeploy our troops to fight our real enemies, and engage our friends and allies in the reqion and around the world to join the effort in Iraq to help stabilize this rapidly disintegrating nation.
The Bush administration’s mistakes in Iraq—invading for the wrong reasons and without enough troops to secure the country—leaves 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 assume control
- Encourage Iraqis who are fighting to end the occupation to lay down their arms
- Motivate the U.N., global, and regional powers to get more involved in Iraq
- Endow 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 the 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 threatens our nation can Americans be 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 on our website.