On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Plan: An End to Endless Occupation

Five years have passed since George Bush order our military to invade Iraq. 1827 days, 3990 dead U.S. soldiers and billions of dollars later we're still there with 160,000 troops stuck in a never ending occupation. Bush has foregone any further responsibility for this mess. Republicans have blocked all Democratic attempts to force an end to the war. What we need is a veto-proof majority made up of representatives who will do the hard work to end this occupation and end this war.

Darcy Burner and a host of other candidates for Congress have drafted a plan they have pledged to campaign on and support once elected that focuses on the non-military issues that must be addressed for this war to end. The key points are:
End U.S. military action in Iraq:
There is no military solution in Iraq. Our current course unacceptably holds U.S. strategic fortunes hostage to events in Iraq that are beyond our control; we must change course. Using diplomatic, political, and economic power, we can responsibly end the war and removing all of our troops from Iraq.

Using U.S. diplomatic power:
Much of the remaining work to be completed in Iraq requires the effective use of diplomatic power. Many of Iraq's neighbors are currently contributing to instability and need to be persuaded to assist instead in stabilization.

Addressing humanitarian concerns:
The humanitarian crisis caused by Iraq's situation is destabilizing to the region and damaging to America's moral credibility. We must both take responsibility for the Iraqis who are now endangered because of their assistance to the U.S. and begin to address the regional problems of displaced Iraqis.

Restoring our Constitution:
Many mistakes were made in the course of this war, and our systems of checks and balances have failed us at critical moments. To prevent repeating those mistakes, we must repair the underlying Constitutional framework of our republic and provide checks to executive authority. Balance must be restored between the executive and the judicial branch (for instance through the restoration of habeas corpus), between the executive and the legislative branch (for instance through clarifying that the President does not have the Constitutional authority to unilaterally alter legislation through signing statements), and between the executive and the people of the United States (for instance by clarifying that the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause and a warrant for the government to spy on Americans).

Restoring our military:
Repairing the damage done to our military will require reforms in contracting procedures, restoring benefits for members of the military and veterans, and investment in repairing or replacing damaged military equipment.

The need for contracting reform is substantial. Private militias have direct incentives to prolong the conflict rather than resolve it; their use needs to be phased out. Contractors must be legally accountable for their actions. War profiteering must be stopped, and those who have engaged in it need to answer for their actions.

The safety of our men and women in uniform requires that we adhere to international standards with respect to treatment of prisoners. We must also make it clear that the United States does not torture, and that we do not send people to other places to be tortured, either.

The military is having substantial difficulty with recruiting and retention; we could begin to help by delivering on more of the promises the original Montgomery G.I. Bill made and by delivering on our promises regarding healthcare for veterans.

Restoring independence to the media:
The consolidation of our news media into the control of a relatively few corporate entities stifled a full and fair discussion and debate around Iraq. A more robust debate could be encouraged by expanding access to media.

Creating a new, U.S.-centered energy policy:
Finally, we are clearly tied to Iraq through our dependence on oil, which makes us vulnerable. Moving away from that dependence is necessary for strategic, economic, and environmental reasons.
Read the whole thing here, then spread the word: the solution isn't just up to those in Washington, D.C., it is up to all of us. We can either sit back and let the next five years pass on by with no change, 4000 more dead, and trillions wasted, or we can stand up and be counted as a growing chorus of American voices demanding new leadership that will bring an end to this war. I choose the latter.

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