Bringing the Troops Home: A Plan for Iraq

Many Republicans seem almost surprised by the continuing failure of our policies in Iraq. I am not. It was clear to me from the beginning that the White House was rushing to war at the expense of intelligent foreign policy. I joined 75 other former congressmen in calling on President Bush to put more effort into economic and diplomatic efforts before the invasion - the only candidate in this race who took that stand publicly before we attacked.

After five years and the loss of more than 4,000 American and as many as one million Iraqi lives from a purely military strategy, we must give diplomacy a chance. I was among the earliest to sign onto "A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq," which lays out a path to peace through diplomacy and cooperative effort. More than 50 other candidates for Congress and some of our nation's leading military experts have now endorsed this plan, which describes a number of strategies that I have been calling for since we invaded. Read the full plan for yourself at http://www.responsibleplan.com. If you believe, as I do, that this provides a route to peace and to the restoration of our standing on the international scene, please join me in signing on.

Timetable for Withdrawl

For diplomacy to work, we must withdraw all of our troops on a swift timeline, leaving only the standard embassy-protection detail behind. The United States must be seen as a fair broker by all Iraqis if we are to help bridge their internal divides and stop the violence. We can't do that with our troops on the ground. Withdrawal is the most effective way to prove that we're serious about rebuilding, and to ensure that the Iraqi people can take control of their own fates. For all the Republican grandstanding about the risks, we set timetables for the transfer of sovereignty and for elections without excessive violence. There is little reason to suspect that troop withdrawal would be any different. While there may be uncertainty about withdrawal, there is no question that continued military presence is only making the conflict worse.

Rebuilding War-Torn Iraq

Bringing our young men and women home is just the beginning of the solution. Stability and prosperity are the most effective tools against terrorism and insurgency, and we will work to create them. With our resources freed up, we will be able to invest far more in public works projects within Iraq, reconstructing the critical infrastructure destroyed in the invasion. This will help jumpstart the economy and give young people from all three major ethnic groups an opportunity to work together on behalf of their nation. We will also be able to expand the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) program, helping Iraqis learn to defend themselves against insurgents at the local level. Furthermore, turning away from a primarily military strategy will enable us to earn back the trust and goodwill of neighboring nations like Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which the current administration has squandered. Their aid will be critical in securing Iraq's borders, addressing the growing refugee crisis, and stabilizing the region as a whole. There will be significant financial costs to these steps, but they pale in comparison to the three trillion dollars this war will cost U.S. taxpayers and the continued rise of the death count we will see if we continue to follow the Bush Plan.

No More Iraqs

Once we have reversed George W. Bush's disastrous course in Iraq, we must address the reasons why he was permitted to keep us on that course for so long. The White House has undermined the Constitution to further its own agenda in Iraq. They've hidden the true cost of the war by budgeting "off the books" in supplemental appropriations and have undercut Congress with the unprecedented use of signing statements to change the meaning of legislation. We must restore Congress' rightful role to provide needed oversight, including committee hearings in Congress, and I will work for the passage of the Presidential Signing Statements Act to ban the courts from deferring to the White House when determining the intent of legislation. The administration's failures in Iraq have been compounded by the Bush Administration's reliance on contractors more interested in posting a profit than in serving our nation. Too many contractors have been given tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in no-bid contracts while failing to deliver on their end of the bargain. I support the War Profiteering Prevention Act, which bans profiteering and fraud involving a contract or the provision of goods or services in connection with our government's missions overseas.