Failures in Iraq Require New Strategies

Woodward book highlights some facts that astound, and others that CAP has been pointing out for a long time.

Americans today gained their first full glimpse of the contents of Bob Woodward’s latest book, State of Denial, in which he details the numerous failings of the Bush administration in its war in Iraq and against terrorist networks both before and after 9/11. Some of the revelations have been patently obvious for some time now, as our Metrics of Failure report details, but others are stunning, among them the apparent cover up of a key pre-9/11 meeting between then National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice and former CIA chief George Tenet in which Rice failed to heed warnings that Osama bin Laden was planning a major attack on the United States.

From a policy prospective, though, the details within Woodward’s new book highlight a much more fundamental problem: the United States today lacks a coherent strategy for winning the war in Iraq and against Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups. Stale political rhetoric such as “stay the course” or “cut and run” does not address the fundamental question Americans are asking of their government: How will we win the war on terrorist networks?

Clearly the Bush administration doesn’t have an answer. The quagmire into which the president has led us is evident today in one single statistic: 75 percent of Sunnis in Iraq support attacks on our soldiers in their country, up from 14 percent in 2003. What’s more, the toll of the war has America’s army on the edge. Such stark facts only underscore the findings of our joint study with Foreign Policy magazine, The Terrorism Index, in which a blue ribbon, nonpartisan group of national security experts judged that the United States is less safe today.

This is simply unacceptable. While President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have no answers to this national security crisis, progressives do. The Center for American Progress boasts a Strategic Redeployment plan that would restore the strength of our armed forces, re-focus on the immediate threat from Al Qaeda, and prevent U.S. troops from being cut down in the middle of the Iraqi civil war.

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 and their posterity will be safer. But that doesn’t mean our government can’t begin to refocus on our real enemies. Taking Control of the Fight Against Terrorists, a strategic plan proposed by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, argues that America must reassume control of national security with a comprehensive strategy that integrates all components of American power.

Specifically, we must resume the offensive against Al Qaeda and move to prevent nuclear terrorism while simultaneously acting to secure our critical infrastructure from terrorist attack and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Only then can we begin to champion the kind of economic and political reforms abroad that are necessary to ensure the eradication of terrorist breeding grounds.

Experts Available for Comment on these issues at the Center for American Progress include:

Joe Cirincione, Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy

Joseph Cirincione is the Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy. Prior to joining the Center, he was Director for Non-Proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. He is one of America’s best-known weapons experts, a frequent commentator on these issues in the media, and a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He worked for nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives on the professional staff of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Government Operations.

Cirincione’s books include Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons (Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2006), Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats, (Second Edition, 2005), and as co-author, Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security (March 2005). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Cirincione is an honors graduate of Boston College and holds a Masters of Science with highest honors from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Peter Rundlet, Vice President for National Security and International Affairs, Center for American Progress

Peter Rundlet is the Vice President for National Security and International Affairs at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining American Progress, Rundlet was Counsel for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the “9/11 Commission”), where he focused on domestic intelligence and law enforcement policy, including related civil liberties issues. In 1997, he was selected to be a White House Fellow, serving in the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President. After his fellowship year, Rundlet was appointed Associate Counsel to the President and was responsible for a range of policy and constitutional law issues until the end of the Clinton administration.

Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Senior Adviser to the Center for Defense Information.

Lawrence J. Korb is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Senior Adviser to the Center for Defense Information. Prior to joining the Center, he was a Senior Fellow and Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. From July 1998 to October 2002, he was Council Vice President, Director of Studies, and holder of the Maurice Greenberg Chair. Prior to joining the Council, Dr. Korb served as Director of the Center for Public Policy Education and Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, Dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, and Vice President of Corporate Operations at the Raytheon Company. Dr. Korb served as Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics) from 1981 through 1985. In that position, he administered about 70 percent of the Defense budget

Denis McDonough, Senior Fellow and Senior Adviser to Distinguished Senior Fellow Tom Daschle at the Center for American Progress

Denis McDonough is Senior Fellow and Senior Adviser to Distinguished Senior Fellow Tom Daschle at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining American Progress, Denis was Legislative Director for Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado. From July 2000 to December 2004, McDonough was Foreign Policy Adviser to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. In that role, he worked extensively on legislation related to the war on terrorism, the response to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, and Iraq and the greater Middle East.

Prior to his time working in the Senate Leadership, McDonough was a Fellow with the Robert Bosch Foundation of Stuttgart, Germany from 1999 to 2000, working with the Bundestag in Berlin and the German Chapter of Transparency International in Munich. From 1996 to 1999, he was a member of the Democratic Professional Staff of the House International Relations Committee, where he was focused on U.S. policy in Latin America. McDonough earned a Masters Degree from Georgetown University (1996) and graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN (1992).

Brian Katulis, Director of Democracy and Public Diplomacy, Center for American Progress

Brian Katulis a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. At the Center, his work examines U.S. national security policy in Middle East and democratization, with a focus on Iraq. Prior to joining the Center, Katulis lived and worked in the Middle East for the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, including projects in Egypt, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories. From 2000 to 2003, he worked as a senior associate at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. His previous experience includes work in the Near East and South Asian Directorate of the National Security Council and the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State during the Clinton administration. He has published articles in The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications. Katulis received a graduate degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs.

Peter Ogden, Program Coordinator for National Security and International Policy

Peter Ogden is the Program Coordinator for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. He works on energy security, military manpower, nuclear nonproliferation, and other related U.S. foreign policy issues. Ogden’s writings have been published in a number of major journals and newspapers, including Foreign Affairs (November 2006), The New York Times, The Washington Post, The American Interest, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Army Times, and The Baltimore Sun. He served on the task force for Energy Security in the 21st Century: A New National Strategy (National Security Task Force on Energy, CAP 2006), co-authored The Road to Nuclear Security (CAP 2004), and co-edited Resources for Global Growth: Agriculture, Energy, and Trade (CAP 2005) and Terror in the Shadows: Trafficking in Money, Weapons, and People (CAP 2004). Ogden has also lived and worked in Japan. He received his master’s degree from Princeton University and graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College.

For Media Inquiries, please contact: Daniella Léger, Director of Press Relations for the Center for American Progress – phone: 202-741-6258, email: [email protected].

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