-- by Dave
"This is an acknowledgment that we need to fundamentally change what our conversation about national security and war looks like in order to be able to move forward."
-- Darcy Burner
I felt a real burst of old-fashioned Northwesterner pride yesterday watching Darcy Burner lead a contingent of Democratic congressional candidates announce their "Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq" before the Take Back America Conference here in D.C. Not only was it clear that Darcy was the sparkplug and leader for the group -- and it was an impressive group -- but all the reasons to support her congressional campaign were on full display: the razor intelligence, the fearlessness, the natural leadership qualities.
But Burner herself must take a back seat to the plan, which is perhaps even more impressive: a thorough, comprehensive approach not just to solving the immediate issues around the Iraq conflict but also the systemic issues that go deeper. The idea is not just to end the war and bring peace and stability to Iraq, but to keep such a blunder from happening again.
The ResponsiblePlan.com site has the details:
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 independence is necessary for strategic, economic, and environmental reasons.
Here are a couple of videos:
Dave Reichert, Darcy's opponent, offered up a lame retort:
Reichert opposes committing to an immediate drawdown of U.S. troops, Shields said. And Reichert also is against massive U.S. spending in Iraq, an oil-rich country that has plenty of resources of its own, he said.
Reichert aide Mike Shields said, "I think both sides would agree we have the same plan: We want our troops home as soon as possible."
But Reichert "wants them to withdraw based on the situation on the ground," Shields said. "This plan wants them to withdraw based on the domestic political situation in the United States."
Of course, the plan in fact is wholly predicated on realities on the ground in Iraq -- namely, the understanding that the healing cannot begin until our troops begin withdrawing.
As the plan observes:
- Responsibly ending the U.S. military action in Iraq and returning control of the country to the Iraqis is a critical step in enhancing U.S. security. This solution requires that no residual U.S. troops remain in Iraq. The continued presence in Iraq of so-called “residual” forces beyond the minimum needed for standard embassy-protection would be a serious mistake. Any such troops would become a magnet for insurgent attacks and unless they did nothing at all would inevitably become players in Iraq’s domestic political disputes, thus forcing the United States to continue to play referee to Iraq’s civil conflicts. Soldiers tasked with training missions would, to be effective, have to be embedded in Iraqi combat formations necessarily involving them directly in combat, thus continuing to hold American strategic fortunes hostage to events in Iraq that are beyond our control.
In any event, it's an exciting moment in the evolution of the movement to end the war, as well as the progressive movement generally. It has the chance to be a definitive moment for the nation -- especially if we seize the opportunity and make it happen.