Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Define Victory II

Yesterday, I noted that Democrats needed to define what victory in Iraq was, and provide a reason to get outta Dodge:
...Democrats must provide a positive plan, an achievable goal, a meaningful yardstick, a viable alternative that provides a reason to end the mistake Bush and the Republicans took us into.

Senator Obama must have been reading my mind (or my blog). Here's what he had to say today at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations where he laid out how the US could drawn down forces in Iraq:
First and foremost, after the December 15 elections and during the course of next year, we need to focus our attention on how reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq. Notice that I say "reduce," and not "fully withdraw."

This course of action will help to focus our efforts on a more effective counter-insurgency strategy and take steam out of the insurgency.


Second, we need not a time-table, in the sense of a precise date for U.S. troop pull-outs, but a time-frame for such a phased withdrawal. More specifically, we need to be very clear about key issues, such as bases and the level of troops in Iraq. We need to say that there will be no bases in Iraq a decade from now and the United States armed forces cannot stand-up and support an Iraqi government in perpetuity - pushing the Iraqis to take ownership over the situation and placing pressure on various factions to reach the broad based political settlement that is so essential to defeating the insurgency.


Third, we need to start thinking about what an Iraqi government will look like in the near term.

The post-election period will be critically important in working with the Shia and Kurdish leaders to help address Sunni concerns and to take steps to bring them into the government.


Fourth, we have to do a much better job on reconstruction in Iraq.

The Iraqi people wonder why the United States has been unable to restore basic services - sewage, power, infrastructure - to significant portions of Iraq. This has caused a loss of faith among the Iraqi people in our efforts to rebuild that nation and help it recover from decades of brutal tyranny.

If we are unable to point out the progress, how are Iraqis - especially ones we are trying to persuade to claim a bigger stake in the future of their country - ever to know that the Americans efforts are helping to make their lives better? How does this approach help to quell the insurgency?


Fifth, we have to launch a major diplomatic effort to get the international community, especially key neighboring states and Arab nations, more involved in Iraq.


Finally, it is critical for this Administration, and Congress, to recognize that despite the enormous stakes the United States now has in seeing Iraq succeed, we cannot let this mission distract us from the larger front of international terrorism that remains to be addressed. Already we are getting reports that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. Our progress in improving our intelligence capabilities - particularly human intelligence - has lagged. Iraq has absorbed resources that could have gone into critical homeland security measures, or in improved coordination with our global allies and partners.


Iraq was a major issue in last year's election.

But that election is now over.

We need to stop the campaign.

The President could take the politics out of Iraq once and for all if he would simply go on television and say to the American people "Yes, we made mistakes. Yes, there are things I would have done differently. But now that we're here, I am willing to work with both Republicans and Democrats to find the most responsible way out."

You can't sound byte this one effectively. But Obama is continuing the discussion of how we define victory in Iraq. With the recent attention given to what has been incorrectly labeled an immediate withdraw proposed by Republicans trying to embarass Rep. Murtha, and now high profile Democrats like Obama proposing plans for withdraw, this is rapidly becoming more of a movement that is gathering steam than background noise that can be ignored by the MSM and the ruling party.

Essentially, Obama is saying to the Bush administration and Republican leadership: "Grow up." Let's see if the adults take over for Jr. and the boys.