It’s Not Hillary “It’s the Policy Stupid!”

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Win Without War
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It’s Not Hillary “It’s the Policy Stupid!”

Tom Andrews, National Director of the Win Without War Coalition, and General Robert Gard (Ret.) posted the following blog post today on the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON - The
media obsession over who's in and who's out of consideration for the Obama
Cabinet brings the admonition on the famous "War Room" wall of Bill Clinton's
1992 presidential campaign to mind: "It's the Economy Stupid!" Those of us
eagerly awaiting relief from the debacle called the Bush administration should
avoid getting swept up the in DC parlor game of who is getting what position in
the new administration and focus instead on the fundamental changes we need the
Obama administration to start making.  In short, "It's the Policy Stupid!"

President Obama will begin his presidency with enormous
good will from the American people and great hope from the world at large. It is
imperative that he seize this opportunity by quickly moving his campaign pledges
into bold and decisive action despite the opposition that surely awaits
him.

Step one: End the US military occupation of Iraq.  Immediately begin withdrawing US combat
forces within sixteen months, clearly delineating the number and role of any
remaining troops to limited non-combat roles such as providing security to the
US embassy and training Iraqi
security forces. Even before taking office, President-elect Obama's message of
change has made a security pact with Iraq much more likely by assuring Iraqis that the
United
States will respect their sovereignty and pull
our forces out. It has weakened Iranian opposition by increasing their
confidence that the US will not be occupying permanent
military bases on their neighbor's soil as a staging ground for attack

Step two: Change course in Afghanistan. Responding to the
Bush administration's failure in Afghanistan by initiating an escalation of US
combat troops could be the next 
step into a quagmire that would be a catastrophe for the United
States, Obama's presidency, and the region.
Changing course should include support for the Afghan government's outreach to
insurgent forces, including elements of the Taliban willing to negotiate an end
to armed conflict; a robust diplomatic effort that reaches out to key regional
nations, including Iran and Pakistan; and a serious and sustained commitment of
humanitarian aid and development assistance that can bring relief and hope to
the beleaguered people of Afghanistan. Continued military commitment should be
limited and predicated on a clear exit strategy that is linked to this
comprehensive approach.

Step three: Engage Iran. President Obama should
declare that seeking regime change in Iran is no longer the policy of the U.S.
and initiate diplomatic contacts with the Iranian government immediately without
preconditions.

Step four: Make a just and lasting peace in
the Middle East a top priority
by seriously arbitrating a settlement of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and capitalizing on the common interests of states
in the region to prevent an implosion of Iraq and to
establish stability.

Step five: Replenish the strength of our
weakened military by cutting the number of troops that are put into harms way
and striking unnecessary and obsolete military weapons from the defense
budget.
President Obama should reject calls for an increase in military
spending and combat forces. Troop levels should be set not by reacting to the
demands of militarizing our foreign policy under George W. Bush, but by the
requirements of a new national security strategy. Additional levels of combat
troops will  be necessary only if
the United
States intends to launch yet more
counter-insurgency campaigns by invasions and military occupations. The
alternative is a national security policy that buries the "Bush Doctrine,"
respects international law, and restores America's place in the world as a
source of inspiration and hope, not outrage and fear.

None
of these steps will be easy. Hawks will echo Senator McCain's attacks during the
presidential campaign that President Obama will be snatching defeat from the
jaws of victory by changing course in Iraq. They will clamor for more
troops in Afghanistan without
any semblance of an exit strategy while rejecting meaningful diplomatic
engagement with key regional players like Iran.  And, they will relentlessly pressure
Members of Congress from both parties to continue the gravy train of wasteful
defense spending on obsolete and unnecessary weapons and equipment. President
Obama and Members of Congress need to demand that, from now on, defense spending
will be based on the national security interests of our nation and no longer on
the political self-interest of politicians and the insatiable appetite of
defense contractors.

Undoing the incalculable damage done by the Bush
administration will require a fundamental reassessment of how to achieve genuine
national security and setting a profoundly different course for national defense
and foreign policy.  The election of
Barack Obama opens an extraordinary opportunity for our nation and the world.
The stakes are too high to squander it.

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