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Cardoza, Democrats Outline Principles for Success in Iraq

Location: Washington, DC

Cardoza, Democrats Outline Principles for Success in Iraq

Group Urges President to Adopt Principles to Stabilize Iraq, Bring Troops Home in 2006

December 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - Congressman Dennis Cardoza today joined a group of Democrats in sending a letter to President Bush outlining a set of principles for a successful resolution of the mission in Iraq. Cardoza joined the group in calling for the U.S. to accelerate the transition to full Iraqi sovereignty in 2006, laying the groundwork for the redeployment of U.S. troops.

The Democratic working group consists of Democratic Members of Congress committed to a successful conclusion of the mission in Iraq. It is comprised of members of the International Relations Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, the House Intelligence Committee and the Democratic Leadership.

"I believe that the December 15 election marked a turning point for the United States in Iraq," said Cardoza. "I am deeply committed to a successful resolution of our mission in Iraq. The time has come to accelerate the transition to full Iraqi sovereignty while leaving a stable, pluralistic nation that is able to provide for its own security. I believe we can accomplish this and begin redeployment of U.S. forces in 2006."

Signatories included the House Democratic Whip, 11 members of the House Armed Services Committee and the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee. Signatories: Reps. Steny Hoyer (MD), Ike Skelton (MO), Jane Harman (CA), Adam Smith (WA), Rick Larsen (WA), Betty McCollum (MN), Darlene Hooley (OR), Marty Meehan (MA), David Price (NC), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Joe Crowley (NY), John Larson (CT), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Mark Udall (CO), Lane Evans (IL), Robert Brady (PA), Steve Israel (NY), James Langevin (RI), Juanita Millender-McDonald (CA), Mike McIntyre (NC), and Jim Cooper (TN), in sending her letter to the President. You can see the text of her principles below:

Full Text of Principles:

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Bush,

As Democratic Members who are deeply committed to a successful resolution to our mission in Iraq, who want to leave Iraq with a stable government, and bring our troops home as soon as possible, we are writing to describe principles that are an essential part of a plan for success in Iraq.

We owe this plan first and foremost to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who are serving in Iraq; to their families who continue to sacrifice so much for our efforts in Iraq; to the American people who stand foursquare behind the troops; and to the Iraqi people who largely want a peaceful and stable Iraq.

We believe that 2006 is a time of significant opportunity for the United States in Iraq: The US has borne the lion's share of taking Iraq from a brutal dictatorship to a sovereign and pluralistic country able to govern and provide for its own security.

Now the time has come for us to accelerate the transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, and create the conditions for the redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq.

To this end, we believe that you need to announce that United States military forces will not stay in Iraq any longer than required to constitute a capable Iraq security force and that the people of Iraq should be told this immediately.

You need to also urge the new Iraqi government elected on December 15, in no uncertain terms, to represent and reach out to all Iraqis and create a sustainable political settlement that is essential for ending the insurgency in Iraq. The United States has no interest in maintaining a permanent military presence in Iraq or in fighting a civil war for them. We have an obligation to the Iraqi people to help them set up a representative government through the December elections and we must focus our efforts on defeating the Jihadist threat in Iraq. Additional support must be provided by the Iraqis themselves and the international community.

The December 15 election in Iraq marks a decisive turning point for US involvement there.

After nearly three years of intimate US involvement with Iraq's political development and security operations, the election of a permanent Iraqi government means the United States has the opportunity to scale back its involvement in Iraq.

Over the next twelve months the United States should draw down its military personnel and participation in Iraq as the Iraqi government takes increased responsibility for its political and security needs.

Four principles should guide U.S. policy on Iraq:

First, it is vital that the new Iraqi government be inclusive and non-sectarian.

The Iraqi government that is elected on December 15 has a responsibility to serve all Iraqis, include minority parties and treat all with fairness and respect.

The new government must extend full participation and civil liberties to the Sunnis, Kurds, and all minorities in Iraq.

A serious effort by the new Iraqi government to address Sunni, Kurd and other minority concerns should lead to a reduction in violence.

Second, the Iraqi government must take full responsibility for defeating all domestic security threats.

We must make it clear that the United States' interest is in developing a power-sharing arrangement among Sunnis, Shiia and Kurds.

To the extent that Sunnis and Baathists continue to engage in violence against the government of Iraq after the new permanent government is formed early next year, it is the Iraqi security forces that must combat that violence. The US must not be a proxy in an Iraqi civil war.

To this end, your administration owes the American people an honest accounting of Iraq's security capabilities as listed in the overwhelmingly supported Warner-Frist amendment to the defense authorization bill:

(A) The number of battalions of the Iraqi Armed Forces that must be able to operate independently or to take the lead in counterinsurgency operations and the defense of Iraq's territory.

(B) The number of Iraqi special police units that must be able to operate independently or to take the lead in maintaining law and order and fighting the insurgency.

(C) The number of regular police that must be trained and equipped to maintain law and order.

(D) The ability of Iraq's Federal ministries and provincial and local governments to independently sustain, direct, and coordinate Iraq's security forces.

(E) The criteria to be used to evaluate progress toward meeting such conditions.

(F) A schedule for meeting such conditions, an assessment of the extent to which such conditions have been met, information regarding variables that could alter that schedule, and the reasons for any subsequent changes to that schedule.

Third, the United States military presence in Iraq should decrease significantly in the next twelve months and the US role should be to isolate and defeat foreign terrorists and foreign jihadists in Iraq.

Currently, the United States is embroiled in three different missions: containing a civil war, fighting foreign terrorists, and nation-building.

While the Iraqi government takes increased responsibility for its own domestic security concerns, U.S. troops can focus on attacking Al Qaeda and foreign jihadists.

Our priority should always have been to defeat global jihadists led by Al Qaeda - with Iraq taking more responsibility for its own security we can now get back to that main task.

The U.S. must accelerate the creation of Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout Iraq to transition a number of core economic and security functions to the Iraqi people.

Because the U.S. will have a reduced role in Iraq, we expect to be able to significantly draw down the number of U.S. troops there by as much as two thirds. Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Ike Skelton offers a possible formula to achieve this - redeploying an American brigade or unit of comparable size for every three Iraqi security force combat brigades that are rated fully capable.

The United States will not keep any permanent military bases in Iraq but will maintain an over-the-horizon force to prevent or respond to threats to US interests should they arise after the complete redeployment of U.S. troops.

Part of an effective transition in our focus in Iraq will involve a dramatic change in our rhetoric and sending the clear message that the U.S. mission in Iraq will be part of a restored focus on the broader worldwide jihadist threat.

And fourth, Iraq, its regional neighbors and the international community must take on more of the nation-building portion of the mission in Iraq.

The highest priority is to stand up robust oil production, which is at present below pre-war levels. Oil revenues will allow Iraq to bear the main costs of reconstruction. The US must make clear that Iraqi oil belongs solely to the Iraqi people.

The international community, led by Saudi Arabia, Iraq's largest country creditor, must forgive Iraq's remaining debt.

Iraq's neighbors in the Middle East, the international community, and experts from relevant non-governmental organizations must assist Iraq with building functioning government institutions; reinstate when possible the bureaucratic class in Iraq; and help Iraq's new permanent government fight corruption.

Reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure should be turned over to Iraqis and the international community at an accelerated pace. All contracts should be awarded through standardized bidding contests and preference for the awarding of contracts going to Iraqi nationals operating small and medium size businesses.

An Iraq Contact Group should be created to provide oversight and resources to the Iraqi government and sustain international attention on Iraq, follow up on financial commitments and actual disbursement of funds pledged by the international community and assist Iraq with any and all challenges it encounters in setting up a functioning and accountable government.

We urge your adoption of theses principles and look forward to your timely response.


Reps. Steny Hoyer (MD), Ike Skelton (MO), Ellen Tauscher (CA), Jane Harman (CA), Adam Smith (WA), Rick Larsen (WA), Betty McCollum (MN), Darlene Hooley (OR), Marty Meehan (MA), David Price (NC), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Joe Crowley (NY), John Larson (CT), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Mark Udall (CO), Lane Evans (IL), Robert Brady (PA), Steve Israel (NY), James Langevin (RI), Juanita Millender-McDonald (CA), Mike McIntyre (NC), Jim Cooper (TN), and Dennis Cardoza (CA)

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