National Security Network

Iraq Votes

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Policy Paper 5 March 2010

Iraq Iraq

Iraq Talking Points

U.S.-Iraq policy hasentered a new era: the U.S. military has done great work. Now we build acivilian-led partnership as Iraqis take responsibility for their own future. Themilitary completed its combat mission with great honor. Fewer than 50,000troops (compared to 148,000just two years ago) are still facing lethal threats. America owes thanks toall who serve, especially those who remain in-country to advise and assistIraqis.

The U.S. military haslong borne the burden in Iraq - it's time for civilian engagement. As GeneralRay Odierno recentlysaid: "We're not abandoning Iraq. We're changing our commitment frommilitary-dominated to one that is civilian-led." With combat troops exiting thecountry, the U.S. has mounted a massive civilian effort to support Iraq. Thisnew form of U.S. engagement - focused on diplomacy, trade, and development, inaddition to the military - is "unprecedentedin scale."

Redeployment fromIraq is the right policy for U.S. interests. With a military stretched byyears of fighting two wars, an economy struggling to emerge from recession, andnew global challenges emerging, redeployment from Iraq is the best policy forthe U.S. It will give America the flexibility it needs to address U.S.interests. And it will show Iraqis - and the world - the peaceful side ofAmerican power.

Iraq redeploymentrepresents the culmination of years of work by progressives and fulfillment ofa major promise by the president. Progressives and moderates in Congressand across the country have worked toward this day since 2005. Before enteringoffice, Barack Obama pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible close.Redeployment is a success for progressives and fulfills the president'spromise.

Violence is troublingbut trending down - and Iraqis are capable of confronting it themselves.  Episodes of horrific violence are tragic.  But violenceis lower now than just 18 months ago and trending down year by year.  Iraqi security forces - now more than 600,000strong and trusted by the people - are capable of holding the country together.

Iraqi politics is thecentral issue, and it can only be resolved by Iraqis. U.S. troops can'tgive Iraq a government - only Iraqis can do that. U.S. diplomats and have a role to play, but Iraqis have made it clear that heavy-handedinterference would be unwanted and potentially counterproductive.