Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Withdrawal By 12/2006 Is Good Idea

I think the Bush administration took us into Iraq under false pretenses, but I also believe that we created a mess that we have to clean up before we leave. Having said that, I think Senator Feingold's suggestion of a withdrawal date of December 2006 is a great idea. This date should be coupled with some benchmarks that must be met for this date is honored.

  • Insurgency violence must decrease significantly.
  • The Iraqi army and police must be ready to take over security.
  • Infrastructure projects must be completed or on a timeline to be completed. Clean water and electricity must be available at all hours.
  • Iraqi citizens must enact a constitution that creates a democracy where the rights of women, ethnic and religious minorities are protected.
  • A stable, elected government must be in place.
  • The oil industry is producing revenue to help support the country.

All of these tasks should be able to be accomplished in the next 15 months if there were no insurgency. The prospect of our departure would give the insurgents an incentive to backoff. If the Bush administration is correct and the insurgents will just wait until we leave, that would be OK as long as the violence decreases significantly in the mean time and we achieve our other goals. If the insurgents want to keep fighting, we are no worse than we are today. We would need to make it clear that we don't intend to leave until these tasks are complete.

These benchmarks should be coupled with checkpoints and dates so that everyone knows if progress is being made or not. If progress is not being made, the spector of a delayed withdrawal will motivate extra effort. As progress is made towards these goals, we would decrease the troop levels as has already been suggested.

This allows us to give a date which is the incentive to meet the goals. It also provides benchmarks we can use to prevent the Bush administration from cutting and running as next year's US elections draw near.

If the checkpoints and benchmarks are met, we can leave with a clear conscience knowing the next steps will be up to the Iraqis themselves.

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