A Fully Funded 6-Month Withdrawal Plan
by Lynn Woolsey http://www.commondreams.org/views07/011
Published on Wednesday, January 17, 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle
It was Will Rogers who advised: "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." Yet the Bush administration is grabbing for every shovel it can find. Faced with his own spectacular failure in Iraq, with violence that his own CIA director termed "satanic, President Bush has chosen to escalate the very policy that catalyzed the slaughter and mayhem in the first place. The White House finds itself in a hole and, incomprehensibly, has decided to keep digging.
It's long past time that we climb out of the hole. Today in the House of Representatives, I am introducing the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act, HR 508, a comprehensive legislative proposal to quickly end the occupation of Iraq. It is a broad measure, capturing ideas from military and diplomatic experts and including provisions offered in previous legislative proposals. Specifically, the bill would, among other things:
Withdraw all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq within six months from the date of enactment.
Accelerate, during the six-month transition, training of a permanent Iraqi police force.
Prohibit the continued funding, except for the redeployment of troops currently in Iraq, of combat troops to Iraq.
Prohibit any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. (Despite official denials, bases are under construction, including one that includes a miniature golf course and a Pizza Hut).
Authorize, if requested by the Iraqi government, U.S. support for an international stabilization force, which would stay no longer than two years.
Prohibit U.S. participation in any long-term Iraqi oil production sharing agreements before the enactment by the Iraqi government of new regulations governing the industry.
Authorize an array of non-military assistance in Iraq, including reconstruction of a public-health system; destruction of land mines, recovery of ancient relics; and distribution of compensatory damages for civilian casualties.
Honor the sacrifice of our servicemen and women by providing full funding for every health-care treatment, and benefit that they are entitled to under current law.
To be sure, peace and freedom will not bust out spontaneously the moment the last American soldier leaves Iraqi soil. Professor William Polk, co-author with former U.S. Sen. George McGovern of "Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now” (Simon & Schuster, 2006), notes that such an assumption would be as naïve as the neoconservative pre-war fantasy that our soldiers would be met by bouquet-tossing Iraqis weeping with gratitude. But U.S. withdrawal, in addition to removing our own soldiers from harm's way, will remove the insurgency's very raison d'etre and put Iraq on track toward national healing and reconciliation.
President Bush, however, has chosen escalation over withdrawal, a choice that is tragically misguided and, with virtually no political support, ultimately unsustainable. No less of a militarist than Oliver North has concluded that "sending more U.S. combat troops is simply sending more targets."
The president ignored the advice of the Iraq Study Group, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the soon-to-be-replaced Gens. George W. Casey Jr. and John P. Abizaid (despite the president's repeated insistence that he takes his cues from "commanders on the ground"). This staggering act of presidential arrogance flies in the face of public opinion and reveals nothing but contempt for the electoral verdict delivered by the American voters in November.
That's why today I am proposing my own plan to bring our troops home, and restore Iraqi sovereignty.
Because of the election and its mandate, the president can no longer expect carte blanche from the House and Senate. As a co-equal branch of government with constitutional war powers, we in the Congress are within our rights to challenge and even forestall both the overall Bush policy and the new deployment of more than 21,500 troops. That the 109th Congress chose not to exercise such authority will not -- and should not -- restrain the 110th.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, represents Marin and Sonoma counties in the U.S. House of Representatives.