As I noted here late last night, this week, John Kerry will be introducing an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that will “redeploy U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2006.” Kerry believes that “It’s time for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq.”
John Kerry is calling for the withdrawal of United States forces under a schedule agreed upon with the new government of Iraq. This will legitimize the new Iraqi government, enable the Iraqis to become more self-reliant, and undermine support for the insurgency.
In fact, Senior American commanders have said the large U.S. military presence in Iraq feeds the insurgency. General George Casey, the top American military commander in Iraq, testified to Congress that our large military presence “feeds the notion of occupation” and “extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant.”
The goal of John Kerry’s plan is to undermine the insurgency by simultaneously pursing a political settlement and the military draw down of American forces. Kerry’s plan calls for:
** The redeployment of U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2006.
** Only U.S. troops essential to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces would remain.
President Bush has repeatedly said that when Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. However, that has not been happening. So far, the Iraqis have trained 265,600 security forces. The Bush administration’s stated goal is 272,566 Iraqi security forces. Yet just two weeks ago, the Pentagon announced that they are sending 3,500 additional U.S. troops from Kuwait to Iraq.
The United States to maintain an over-the-horizon military presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
The President to convene a summit that includes the leaders of the new Iraqi government, leaders of the governments of each country bordering Iraq, representatives of the Arab League, the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, representatives of the European Union, and leaders of the governments of each permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to reach a comprehensive political agreement for Iraq that addresses fundamental issues including federalism, oil revenues, the militias, security guarantees, reconstruction, economic assistance and border security.
John Kerry first called for the redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of this year on October 26, 2005. In a major address at Georgetown University, Kerry said the next six months were critical to the future of Iraq. At that time, he introduced his Strategy for Success in Iraq Act – a comprehensive new strategy to complete the mission in Iraq and redeploy the vast majority of American combat troops, beginning with the draw down of 20,000 U.S. troops after successful Iraqi elections in December.
Following up on his plan in April 2006, John Kerry laid out two important deadlines for Iraq – if Iraqi leaders couldn’t form a unity government by May 15, American troops would leave immediately rather than be stuck in the crossfire of an escalating civil war; if they did form a government, we would empower the new Iraqi leaders by agreeing on a schedule to withdraw American combat forces by the end of 2006.
On April 5, 2006, Kerry wrote in the New York Times:
“Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America’s leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. . . So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections. Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet. . . For three years now, the administration has told us that terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis. In fact, terrible things are happening now because we haven’t gotten tough enough.”
— Kerry to Call for Change of Course in Iraq, as Congress Prepares to Focus on War, Terrorism
— John Kerry: Tell Your Senators – Support Senate Joint Resolution 36 to Bring our Combat Troops Home in 2006
— John Kerry: The Moment of Truth In Iraq
— John Kerry’s Speech at Boston’s Faneuil Hall: “A Right and Responsibility to Speak Out”
— John Kerry Speaks on His Iraq Strategy: Two Deadlines and an Exit, Introduces Senate Resolution on Iraq
— John Kerry Calls for May 15 Deadline for Iraq to Get it Together or We’ll Withdraw