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Redeployment Debate Begins Anew (Center for American Progress)

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pinto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 11:50 AM
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Redeployment Debate Begins Anew (Center for American Progress)
JULY 16, 2007 by Faiz Shakir, Nico Pitney, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, and Matt Corley

Redeployment Debate Begins Anew

Today, the Senate debates a bipartisan amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill offered by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI), which would "require the president to begin reducing the number of American troops in Iraq within four months and to transition the mission of our remaining military forces there to force protection, training of Iraqi Security Forces, and counter-terrorism missions." Currently, the President's "New Way Forward" in Iraq -- the so-called "surge" -- is six months old and has only inflamed Iraq's anarchic civil war. Casualties among U.S. forces have surged, political progress in Iraq has halted, popular support for the war has tanked, and conservative members of Congress are defecting from Bush's failed policies in record numbers. The Levin-Reed amendment provides the long-overdue start of a redeployment and real "strategic reset" of our presence in the Middle East.

A GROWING MAJORITY: Today's debate marks the third time the Levin-Reed Amendment or similar plans have reached the floor of the U.S. Senate. Just over a year ago, the Senate rejected a similar plan in a 60 to 39 vote. The plan would have required the President to begin a withdrawal by the end of 2006, but did not set a firm deadline for a completion of redeployment. The Levin-Reed plan was smeared in Congress as "retreat and defeatism," and Bush referred to it as waving "the white flag of surrender." Less than a year later -- in March 2007 -- the Senate approved a measure similar to the Levin-Reed plan in a 51-47 vote as part of the 2007 Iraq Emergency Supplemental. The bill required U.S. forces to leave Iraq by March 2008. Bush vetoed the bill on the fourth anniversary of his "Mission Accomplished" speech. Despite previously endorsing such timelines, Bush called the bill an "artificial deadline" that would allow terrorists to "mark their calendars and begin overthrow" the Iraqi government. Today, bipartisan support for the Levin-Reed plan continues to grow. It is co-sponsored by conservative Sens. Gordon Smith (R-OR), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

DENYING REALITY: Last week, the President delivered to Congress his "Initial Benchmark Assessment Report," claiming that the Iraqi government has "shown satisfactory performance so far on 8 of the 18 benchmarks." Bush said, "I believe we can succeed and I believe we are making security progress that will enable the political tract to succeed." But as the National Security Network documented, and Levin explained yesterday, the President's "glass half full" assessment of Iraq is really "a glass with a big hole in the bottom." Indeed, violence in Iraq has risen -- not fallen -- since the beginning of the President's escalation strategy. Close to 600 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died since January. Military assessments suggest that "the U.S. military's plan to secure Baghdad against a rising insurgency is falling far short of its goal." Over the weekend, "21 unidentified bodies were discovered throughout" Baghdad and today at least 80 people were killed in a bombing in Kirkuk. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) recently called Bush's assessment "delusional, to say the least," adding, "Nothing has gotten better." Murtha said he sees "more and more people coming around. I'm more optimistic than I've ever been that we're going to start redeployment before long." /
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