WASHINGTON - June 19 - Tomorrow John Kerry, Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer will offer an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that sets a deadline of July 1, 2007, for U.S. troops to be redeployed out of Iraq, for purposes of strengthening U.S. national security and increasing the Iraqis’ ability to establish stability throughout their country.
Below is a joint statement from John Kerry and Russ Feingold:
“For three years, Congress has played political games while the war in Iraq has gone on unchecked and unending. With the administration’s failure to offer a coherent or effective strategy in Iraq, it is long past time for Congress to offer a plan to redeploy our troops so we can give Iraq its best chance at stability, and refocus on al Qaeda and the terrorist networks that threaten the security of all Americans.
“We must redeploy to succeed – and we will put this national security imperative to a test in the United States Senate this week. We need a deadline for the redeployment of U.S. forces in Iraq. A deadline gives Iraqis the best chance for stability and self-government, and most importantly, it allows us to begin refocusing on the true threats that face our country.
“Our amendment recognizes the need to keep an over-the-horizon military presence in the Middle East to fight al Qaeda and its affiliates and protect regional security interests. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces, conducting targeted counter-terrorist operations and protecting U.S. facilities and personnel should remain inside Iraq. The president also must move immediately to work with the Iraqis to convene a summit of Iraq’s neighbors and the international community to forge a lasting political settlement to give all Iraqis a stake in the new Iraq.
“A strong national security policy begins with recognizing that our massive presence in Iraq weakens our security and gives Iraqi politicians a crutch to avoid creating stability in their country. As long as 130,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq indefinitely, that country will remain what a series of mistakes have made it -- a crucible for the recruitment and development of terrorists determined to fight Americans and an obstacle to an Iraqi government capable of governing and securing its country. Our troops have done their job in Iraq. It is time to redeploy – to help increase stability in Iraq, and more importantly, to strengthen the national security of the United States.”
The goal of the Kerry-Feingold plan is to undermine the insurgency by simultaneously pursing a political settlement and the redeployment of American forces. Their plan calls requires:
- The redeployment of U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by July 1, 2007.
- Only U.S. troops essential to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces, conducting targeted counter-terrorist operations and protecting U.S. personnel and facilities 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 – just 7,000 shy of the Bush administration’s stated goal of 272,566. Yet just a few 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 work with the new Iraqi government to convene a summit that includes those leaders, the 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.
- The Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on how U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by July 1, 2007.