U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer has added to the growing chorus of voices opposing the war in Iraq. A longtime critic of the war, the Oregon Democrat this week joined fellow Democratic Reps. John Murtha of Pennsylvania and Peter DeFazio of Oregon by releasing a detailed plan for withdrawal from Iraq.
Blumenauer's plan, however, goes further than laying out a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces. It calls for economic disengagement as well as increased international cooperation in helping the Iraqis toward self-government.
Here are the details of Blumenauer's plan:
• Immediately clarify, forcefully and plainly, our long-term intentions and intermediate objectives in Iraq so that a withdrawal would not be viewed as a retreat or lack of will and vision. Renounce any permanent designs on Iraq's territory or resources and plans for permanent bases there.
• Return to the United States the approximately 46,000 National Guard and Reserve forces in Iraq immediately following the December elections.
• Draw down the rest of the U.S. forces over the next one to two years, based on a detailed plan for the transfer of security responsibility on a sector-by-sector basis. The vast majority of these troops should be brought home. Others should be redeployed to Afghanistan to create a larger security footprint and help prevent the re-emergence of the Taliban.
A small rapid-reaction force should be left in Kuwait that can protect against any destabilizing coups. Until the withdrawal is complete, the troops remaining in Iraq should focus on holding and stabilizing population centers, rather than hunting down and killing insurgents.
• Shift reconstruction aid to Iraq away from large projects undertaken by foreign contactors towards small, locally oriented projects run by Iraqis. We can help create jobs, give Iraqis a greater investment in their success and avoid corruption and price-gouging at the same time. Continued funding must be based on results.
• Increase support for the non-governmental organizations that provide much-needed training and assistance to Iraqi political leaders, labor unions and civil society organizations that provide the backbone of any democracy.
• Seek a new United Nations resolution in favor of international efforts to support Iraq, including U.N. supervision of political and democratic development and training of civilian government capacity; a program to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate militias; and responsibility for securing munitions and weapons.
• Work to bring other countries into the training and stability force, under NATO control, if possible, and accept offers from Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany to train Iraqi troops out of country.
• Diplomatically engage all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria, to begin a regional security dialogue with an aim towards restricting their destabilizing interference in Iraqi affairs.
• While we should not negotiate with terrorists, the United States needs to make a renewed effort toward a political solution by diplomatically engaging nationalist, not radical Islamic, faction leaders who might be willing to support a stable Iraq without a U.S. presence, in an attempt to drive a wedge through the insurgency. This can be based on similar efforts to engage the IRA in Northern Ireland.
• Allow the Iraqi government to set its own economic course, rather than insisting on the quick privatization of government services, the reduction of government revenues and the elimination of a social safety net that will lead to increased social disruption and instability.
• Refocus on the real war on terror and other national security threat, including preventing the re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, disrupting terror networks across the world, eliminating the social and political conditions that provide support to violent extremists and developing real strategies to deal with nuclear proliferation in North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.