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June 20, 2006
Iraq Already Has A Plan For Coalition Withdrawal

Today the Senate will start debate on a non-binding resolution that will demand an end to the American presence in Iraq except for those troops engaged in training Iraqi security forces. This new proposal contains much of the same language as the amendment offered by John Kerry to the defense authorization bill that got soundly thumped last week 93-6 when offered by the GOP separately for debate, but as the newly appointed Iraqi National Security Advisor writes today in the Washington Post, the effort is completely unnecessary.

First, let's take a look at the latest Democratic effort to shut down the American effort in Iraq, a silly and nonspecific proposal that inspired Senator Mitch McConnell to call it a "cut and jog":

Trying to bridge party divisions on the eve of a Senate debate, leading Democrats called Monday for American troops to begin pulling out of Iraq this year. They avoided setting a firm timetable for withdrawal but argued that the Bush administration's open-ended commitment to the war would only prevent Iraqis from moving forward on their own.

Coming the week after partisan and often angry House debate over the war, the Senate proposal, a nonbinding resolution, was carefully worded to deflect any accusations that the Democrats were "cutting and running," as their position has been depicted by Republicans. The Democrats behind the measure did not even use the term "withdrawal," and talked about how to guarantee "success" for Iraq, not about any failures of the war.

"The administration's policy to date — that we'll be there for as long as Iraq needs us — will result in Iraq's depending upon us longer," said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, who has been designated by the Democratic leadership to present the party's strategy on Iraq. "Three and a half years into the conflict, we should tell the Iraqis that the American security blanket is not permanent."

The resolution was cobbled together by moderate Democrats trying to smooth over differences within the party. The minority leadership has tried to distance itself from a proposal by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts setting a mandatory deadline for American combat troops to be out of Iraq by the end of this year, a limit that Mr. Kerry modified only marginally on Monday. Some Republican lawmakers and the White House pointed to that proposal last week in attacking Democrats as inconsistent and weak on national security.

The Times gets its analysis completely incorrect in the lead paragraph. This amendment has no intention of bridging differences between the parties, but to bridge a huge difference within the Democratic Party. Kerry's amendment exposed the lack of enthusiasm on the part of many Democrats to call the effort in Iraq a complete defeat, especially in an election year.

With the successful roll-up of the Zarqawi network last week demonstrating how long-range intel and boots on the ground work together for progress, the talking point that our military could not take on terrorists -- a defeatist attitude in any case, but especially after last week -- no longer holds water. The establishment of the elected government after five months of frustrating negotiations has also shown that the Iraqis have made real progress in learning to be democrats, a skill that did not get any development during the decades of Saddam's dictatorship.

We can expect the Democrats to complain bitterly during the debate about the lack of a plan for returning American troops home. That argument has already been undermined by Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi National Security Advisor, who makes the plan very clear in today's Washington Post. Not surprisingly, his explanation of the security plan sounds identical to what the Bush administration has said all along:

There has been much talk about a withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops from Iraq, but no defined timeline has yet been set. There is, however, an unofficial "road map" to foreign troop reductions that will eventually lead to total withdrawal of U.S. troops. This road map is based not just on a series of dates but, more important, on the achievement of set objectives for restoring security in Iraq.

Iraq has a total of 18 governorates, which are at differing stages in terms of security. Each will eventually take control of its own security situation, barring a major crisis. But before this happens, each governorate will have to meet stringent minimum requirements as a condition of being granted control. For example, the threat assessment of terrorist activities must be low or on a downward trend. Local police and the Iraqi army must be deemed capable of dealing with criminal gangs, armed groups and militias, and border control. There must be a clear and functioning command-and-control center overseen by the governor, with direct communication to the prime minister's situation room.

Despite the seemingly endless spiral of violence in Iraq today, such a plan is already in place. All the governors have been notified and briefed on the end objective. The current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has approved the plan, as have the coalition forces, and assessments of each province have already been done. Nobody believes this is going to be an easy task, but there is Iraqi and coalition resolve to start taking the final steps to have a fully responsible Iraqi government accountable to its people for their governance and security. Thus far four of the 18 provinces are ready for the transfer of power -- two in the north (Irbil and Sulaymaniyah) and two in the south (Maysan and Muthanna). Nine more provinces are nearly ready.

So not only do we have a plan in place, the Iraqis have already agreed to the plan, all of the provincial governments know it, and all of them have plans to implement it. The plan does not rely on timetables but on specific markers that show competency on the part of the new Iraqi security forces to deal with gangs, militias, and terrorists on their own. Four of the provinces have already met the standards and await the transfer, and nine more have almost met the criteria at this point, leaving five that need significant progress.

When would that place America in a position to drop troop levels significantly? Rubaie foresees significant declines in 2007 to a level below 100,000, and all but gone by the end of 2008. He wants the US to leave Iraq for the same reasons that some politicians have noted: Iraqis want to rule themselves, of course, and see the American troops as interlopers. Nevertheless, he understands that his government needs the US military to keep order for a while longer, and that drawing up deadlines instead of progress criteria only encourages more violence -- and he's correct.

The Democrats have demagogued this debate for years, and they keep trying to extend their foolishness despite the damage it does to the nation and their own party. They have once again been exposed as either negligently uninformed, deliberately obtuse, or just flat-out dishonest about the plan for Iraqi security and the progress being made towards it. Watered-down resolutions calling for retreat and defeat only continue a political lemming march, whether it comes at a run or a jog, and expect the American people to continue their disappointment in the Democratic lack of spine in fighting terrorists and spreading freedom as a forward strategy against Islamofascism.

ADDENDUM: This also shows that the Iraqis, despite the rather bigoted and contradictory language coming from the Senate on both sides of the aisle, are not lazy and simply allowing the US to do all the heavy lifting:

"As long as we're there to do this heavy lifting," [Senator Jack] Reed said, "even though they want to do it themselves, they won't do it."

This argument never made much sense. The same people who tell us this are telling us simultaneously that the Iraqis resent us and want us to leave. Rubaie confirms that the Iraqis not only want to provide their own security, they have increasingly done so, and have not transformed into layabouts.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 20, 2006 6:37 AM

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» The Exit Plan for Iraq from
Contrary to the rhetoric coming from the Democrats, there is an exit plan already in place for Iraq. Captain's Quarters notes that the pending debate on a non-binding resolution in the Senate is unnecessary. So not only do we have a plan in place, the Ir [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2006 7:19 AM

» Dems come together on Cut-N-Run from Morning Coffee
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats coalesced Monday around a proposal urging the Bush administration to start pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq by year's end, brushing aside calls by some in the party for a firm withdrawal timetable. "Thre... [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2006 7:40 AM

» Unofficial Withdrawal Plan from It Shines For All
Captain's Quarters writes that while the Senate will today "start debate on a non-binding resolution that will demand an end to the American presence in Iraq ... the effort is completely unnecessary." As Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Ru... [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2006 7:55 AM

» Cut and Jog? from Bob's Place
Captain Ed summarizes the hateful cowards: [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2006 8:33 AM

» Exit Strategies from Jay
Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor has a piece in The Washington Post on the current roadmap towards a coalition exit from Iraq – the very thing that the Democrats keep saying doesn’t exist. Unlike the Democrat’... [Read More]

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» A Road Out of Iraq? from A Newer World
There is a facinating essay in today’s Washington Post by Iraqi national security advisor, Mowaffak al-Rubaie. According to him, there is an unofficial “road map” to foreign troop reductions that will eventually lead to total with... [Read More]

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» Strategy For Success: Redeploy! from philmon
It seems to me that to the Democrats, a "strategy for success" means "a strategy for leaving". Bush and the Republicans "Strategy for Success" is to defeat the enemy. At that point, we can start a strategy for "redeployment", or -- sorry, you're not ... [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2006 10:17 AM

» Strategy For Success: Redeploy! from philmon
It seems to me that to the Democrats, a "strategy for success" means "a strategy for leaving". Bush and the Republicans "Strategy for Success" is to defeat the enemy. At that point, we can start a strategy for "redeployment", or -- sorry, you're not ... [Read More]

Tracked on June 20, 2006 11:01 AM


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