Plan for Ending the War in Iraq “But conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war. The pundits judged the political winds to be blowing in the direction of the President. Despite – or perhaps because of how much experience they had in Washington, too many politicians feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions. Too many took the President at his word instead of reading the intelligence for themselves. Congress gave the President the authority to go to war. Our only opportunity to stop the war was lost. I made a different judgment. I thought our priority had to be finishing the fight in Afghanistan. I spoke out against what I called \’a rash war\’ in Iraq. I worried about, ‘an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences.’ The full accounting of those costs and consequences will only be known to history. But the picture is beginning to come into focus.” —Barack Obama, Clinton, Iowa, September 12, 2007
The Surge: The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq\’s political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq\’s civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq\’s political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.
Military Strain: The military is being severely strained by repeated and lengthy deployments. The Army and Marine Corps are facing a crisis as 40 percent of their equipment is either in Iraq or being repaired. This crisis has led many of our generals to conclude that current demands make our forces unable to rapidly respond to the contingencies we may face in the future.
Barack Obama\’s Plan
Judgment You Can Trust
As a candidate for the United States Senate in 2002, Obama put his political career on the line to oppose going to war in Iraq, and warned of “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences.” Obama has been a consistent, principled and vocal opponent of the war in Iraq.
- In 2003 and 2004, he spoke out against the war on the campaign trail;
- In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops;
- In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq’s neighbors;
- In January 2007, he introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.
- In September 2007, he laid out a detailed plan for how he will end the war as president.
Bringing Our Troops Home
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
Press Iraq’s Leaders to Reconcile
The best way to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future is to make it clear that we are leaving. As we remove our troops, Obama will engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society – in and out of government – to seek a new accord on Iraq’s Constitution and governance. The United Nations will play a central role in this convention, which should not adjourn until a new national accord is reached addressing tough questions like federalism and oil revenue-sharing.
Obama will launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent American history to reach a new compact on the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors — including Iran and Syria. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction.
Obama believes that America has a moral and security responsibility to confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis — two million Iraqis are refugees; two million more are displaced inside their own country. Obama will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven.
Barack Obama\’s Record
- Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. In 2002, as the conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against the war. He said the war would lead to \”an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences.\” In January 2007, Obama introduced legislation to responsibly end the war in Iraq, with a phased withdrawal of troops engaged in combat operations.
- Obama has a plan to immediately begin withdrawing our troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year. He would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq\’s leaders reach a new accord on reconciliation. He would use presidential leadership to surge our diplomacy with all of the nations of the region on behalf of a new regional security compact. And he would take immediate steps to confront the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Iraq.