Phased Redeployment of U.S. Troops Out of Iraq
As many of you know, I opposed this war from the beginning – in part because I believed that giving this President the open-ended authority to invade Iraq would lead to the open-ended occupation we find ourselves in today.
Now our soldiers find themselves in the crossfire of someone else’s civil war. More than 3,100 have given the last full measure of devotion to their country. This war has fueled terrorism and helped galvanize terrorist organizations. And it has made the world less safe.
That is why I advocate a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq to begin no later than May first with the goal of removing all combat forces from Iraq by March 2008.
In a civil war where no military solution exists, this redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve the political settlement between its warring factions that can slow the bloodshed and promote stability.
My plan also allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain and prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for international terrorism and reduce the risk of all-out chaos.
U.S. Failure in Iraq Has Strenghtened Iran
In addition, we will redeploy our troops to other locations in the region, reassuring our allies that we will stay engaged in the Middle East.
And my plan includes a robust regional diplomatic strategy that includes talking to Syria and Iran – something this Administration has finally embraced.
The U.S. military has performed valiantly and brilliantly in Iraq. Our troops have done all that we have asked them to do and more.
But a consequence of the Administration’s failed strategy in Iraq has been to strengthen Iran’s strategic position; reduce U.S. credibility and influence in the region; and place Israel and other nations friendly to the United States in greater peril. These are not the signs of a well-paved road. It is time for profound change.
As the U.S. redeploys from Iraq, we can recapture lost influence in the Middle East. We can refocus our efforts to critical, yet neglected priorities, such as combating international terrorism and winning the war in Afghanistan.
And we can, then, more effectively deal with one of the greatest threats to the United States, Israel and world peace: Iran.
Iran’s President Is a Threat to All of Us
Iran’s President Ahmadinejad’s regime is a threat to all of us. His words contain a chilling echo of some of the world’s most tragic history.
Unfortunately, history has a terrible way of repeating itself. President Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust. He held a conference in his country, claiming it was a myth.
But we know the Holocaust was as real as the 6 million who died in mass graves at Buchenwald, or the cattle cars to Dachau or whose ashes clouded the sky at Auschwitz. We have seen the pictures. We have walked the halls of the Holocaust museum in Washington and Yad Vashem. We have touched the tattoos on loved-ones arms. After 60 years, it is time to deny the deniers.
In the 21st century, it is unacceptable that a member state of the United Nations would openly call for the elimination of another member state. But that is exactly what he has done.
Neither Israel nor the United States has the luxury of dismissing these outrages as mere rhetoric.
Iranian Nuclear Weapons
The world must work to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy.
And while we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.
Iranian nuclear weapons would destabilize the region and could set off a new arms race. Some nations in the region, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, could fall away from restraint and rush into a nuclear contest that could fuel greater instability in the region—that’s not just bad for the Middle East, but bad for the world, making it a vastly more dangerous and unpredictable place.
Other nations would feel great pressure to accommodate Iranian demands. Terrorist groups with Iran’s backing would feel emboldened to act even more brazenly under an Iranian nuclear umbrella. And as the A.Q. Kahn network in Pakistan demonstrated, Iran could spread this technology around the world.
U.S. Must Engage in Tough-Minded Diplomacy with Iran
To prevent this worst-case scenario, we need the United States to lead tough-minded diplomacy.
This includes direct engagement with Iran similar to the meetings we conducted with the Soviets at the height of the Cold War, laying out in clear terms our principles and interests. Tough-minded diplomacy would include real leverage through stronger sanctions.
It would mean more determined U.S diplomacy at the United Nations.
It would mean harnessing the collective power of our friends in Europe who are Iran’s major trading partners.
It would mean a cooperative strategy with Gulf States who supply Iran with much of the energy resources it needs.
It would mean unifying those states to recognize the threat of Iran and increase pressure on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.
It would mean full implementation of U.S. sanctions laws.
And over the long term, it would mean a focused approach from us to finally end the tyranny of oil, and develop our own alternative sources of energy to drive the price of oil down.