I will be introducing legislation that I think offers a better alternative. First, my legislation will cap the number of troops in Iraq as of January 1, and will require the Administration to seek Congressional authorization for any additional troops. The President has finally said this is not an open-ended commitment in Iraq, but he is providing the Iraqis with an open-ended presence of American troops.
I think this is a bare minimum measure. Of course, President Bush is so accustomed to doing whatever he wants with troop levels that he might think that that is his right, but Congressional oversight, especially in the absence of a formal declaration of war, ought to be the norm, not the exception.
Second, as a means to increase our leverage with the Iraqi government and to clearly send a message that there are consequences to their inaction, I would impose conditions for continued funding of the Iraqi security forces and the private contractors working for the Iraqis.
This is silly. It's not like they want us there to begin with, and the private contractors are there to pull a tidy profit for the Bush administration's buddies.
Here's my proposal: cancel the sweetheart deals Bush made with his buddies like Halliburton and hire out Iraqi businesses who are hiring Iraqi workers, instead. You stimulate the Iraqi economy and instead of taking money from Al Qaeda to blow their infrastructure up, Iraqi civilians will be taking American money to build it up. It's a win-win, unless you're Dick Cheney. Solve the unemployment problem and the ease the insurgency problem all in one fell swoop.
Also, instead of hiring Blackwater USA to pull security details for $100,000 a year while our military train Iraqi forces, have the Blackwater mercs train the Iraqi forces. The Blackwater mercs really are very well qualified for this particular mission and it would allow our military to return to the mission they were trained for.
My legislation would require certification that the security forces were free of sectarian and militia influence and were actually assuming greater responsibility for Iraqi security along with other conditions. We must not let US funds, taxpayer funds, be used to train members of sectarian militias who are responsible for so much of the violence in Iraq.
This raises an interesting question: what about the potential for sectarian violence in the United States when the gang-bangers and skinheads who've been training in urban warfare tactics over in Iraq return home? Our cities aren't prepared for that. Why is nobody talking about that in Washington?
Unfortunately, it appears that our funds to Iraqi security forces may be going to the people we are trying to restrain. A news report last week in an article entitled, "Mahdi Army Gains Strength Through Unwitting Aid Of US," reported that the U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq security forces has unwittingly strengthened anti-American, Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, which has been battling to take over much of the capital city as American forces are trying to secure it. According to this news report, U.S. Army commanders, and enlisted men who are patrolling east of Baghdad said al-Sadr's militia's had heavily infiltrated the Iraqi police and Army units that they've trained and armed. Said one soldier, "they'll wave at us during the day and shoot at us during the night."
Well, that's called "moonlighting". Refer back to my point about the unemployment problem in Iraq.
We need to inform the Iraqi government in no uncertain terms that there are consequences -- terms that there are consequences, that we will take funds away from their troops, not from our troops, many of whom still lack armored vehicles and counterinsurgency measure devices and communications equipment. And we will not fund the Iraqis if our troops are going to enter into sectarian battles where some of the participants have received American training and support.
Why even be there then if we're not going to train them to take care of themselves? Pack our bags and go home if that's going to be our approach.
Third, I would hold the Administration accountable for their empty promises as well. My bill requires the Bush Administration to certify that Iraq has disarmed the militias;
...because their word means so much....
has ensured that a law has finally been passed for the equitable sharing of oil revenues;
...among whom? Between U.S. companies and the U.S. government? Iraqi oil revenues should go to Iraq. Any money we do take should go directly to contracting out IRAQI companies to rebuild their infrastructure.
that the Iraqi government, under American influence and even pressure, has made the constitutional changes necessary to ensure rights for minority communities;
Unfortunately, they're going to do what they want after we leave. Nothing we can do about that.
that the de-Baathification process has been reversed to allow teachers, professionals, and others who join the Baath party as a means to get a job to serve in the Iraqi government. I would also require the Administration to engage in a regional diplomatic initiative including all of Iraq's neighbors to address Iraq's future and to understand and convey clearly that the United States expects Iraq's neighbors in the stability and security of the new Iraqi state.
Hey, something I agree with. I even proposed this back in, like, August:
Glad Sen. Clinton thinks the CarbonDate Plan is worth endorsing.
If these conditions are not met or are not on their way to being met within six months, a new Congressional authorization requirement would be triggered.
Requirement for what?
Finally, I would prohibit any spending to increase troop levels unless, and until, the Secretary of Defense certifies that our American troops will have the proper training and equipment for whatever mission they are ordered to fulfill.
Again, because their word means so much....
Yesterday I read the classified report outlining the findings by the Department of Defense's Inspector General about the problems that have been faced by our troops getting the equipment they desperately need in combat areas like Iraq. The Inspector General did not have the full cooperation of the Department of Defense and it is heartbreaking that the Inspector General could conclude that the U.S. military still has failed to equip our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially for the kind of warfare that they are confronting with IEDs and insurgents who are attacking them in asymmetric, unconventional warfare.
They're equipped pretty well, from what I've been briefed. This is how the insurgents do their business:
They video tape every attack they make against U.S. forces. If a particular IED successfully takes out an armored humvee, they share that information with other insurgents so they know what will work against us. If it doesn't, they take the tape back to their supplier and tell him that the bomb didn't work and show him exactly what went wrong. They then adapt accordingly. Information sharing and adaptation are huge.
Another thing they'll do: randomly fire mortar rounds into the green zone. They know that they type of mortar rounds they use are impossible to aim, so they don't try to go for a particular target. A fellow NCO who was over there not too long ago said that one round hit the DRMO dump. That's where the Air Force sends busted or outdated computer equipment. Basically, they hit a landfill. The strategic purpose here is to be a nuisance to U.S. forces. Their 30 minute operation results in a four hour clean-up on our end. The 1300 mortar round bunker runs became routine. This lulls people into complacency and fatigue, and eventually somebody slips up and provides the insurgents with an opening to do some real damage. Psy ops is huge.
What's my point here? My point is that it's not a question of keeping our troops completely safe from harm so they can endure a long-term occupation. It's a question of having a clearly-defined mission so that the troops can get in, get it done, and then leave. Protracted warfare benefits nobody; Sun Tzu wrote that.