Agenda for a New Congress: Iraq

The midterm elections this week were, more than anything else, a referendum on the failed U.S. war and military occupation of Iraq. The people of this country have spoken. The voters in this country are saying they will not sacrifice the lives of their loved ones for a failed war in Iraq.The results of this congressional election will force a change in U.S. policy in Iraq. But what kind of change?

The president today accepted the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. But changing the Secretary of Defense will not change the administration’s policy. The stated policy remains: “victory in Iraq.”

The problem is not the people in office, the problem is the policy. At a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, President Bush acknowledged the need to “adjust” U.S. implementation of his policy in Iraq, and then added he still believes the U.S. can still “win” a military victory in Iraq. The president has not accepted that his policies have made the U.S. part of the problem, rather than part of the solution in Iraq.

The U.S. still has 150,000 military troops in Iraq. The violence is escalating and spreading throughout the region. The president is planning to ask Congress next February, according to press reports, to approve another “emergency” supplemental appropriation of $160 billion in funding for the U.S. war and military occupation.

Now it’s up to Congress to demand that the president change course in Iraq. The goal should be to end the U.S. war and military occupation in Iraq. That goal will have to be embraced by both parties to be successful. Congress and the president need to accept the reality that no possible outcome will be a victory for anyone in Iraq. The best that can be done now will be to limit the damage, reduce the lethality of the conflict, and prevent a failed state by removing one of the biggest problems there, i.e. the U.S. military presence.

The mid-term elections will send new leadership to Congress. But neither the Democrats working alone nor the Republicans working alone will be able to force a change in U.S. policy toward Iraq. Bipartisan cooperation will be essential to exercise congressional power sufficient to check the misguided executive branch.

We at FCNL believe Congress needs to develop a strategy to withdraw U.S. military forces and to end the U.S. military occupation. Withdrawal of U.S. military forces is a necessary, prior condition for ending the war, but it is not a sufficient condition. Members of Congress from both parties have spoken out against the current U.S. strategy in Iraq. To be successful, any new congressional initiative will have to be a bipartisan effort for a U.S. policy that:

1. Sets a date certain for U.S. military withdrawal;
2. Brings the armed Iraqi nationalist resistance to the negotiating table;
3. Simultaneously starts up a regional process – including Syria and Iran — to support and stabilize Iraq; and
4. Provides U.S. underwriting for Iraqi-led reconstruction.

As Quakers we’re opposed to all funding for war. But we know that Congress will continue to pass “emergency” supplemental appropriations for the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. At a minimum, members of Congress from both parties should condition any additional funding for the Iraq war on this four-point plan for an expeditious U.S. military withdrawal.

Read more about FCNL’s proposals to change the course in Iraq.

Read more about FCNL’s Iraq Peace Campaign.

________________________________________Contact Congress and the AdministrationSubscribe to other FCNL legislative, policy, and action alert lists.________________________________________Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 Second St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-5795 *
phone: (202)547-6000 * toll-free: (800)630-1330

We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled
We seek an earth restored

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