Families of the Fallen for Change Iraq Exit Proposal
AMERICAN WITHDRAWAL WITH MEASURABLE BENCHMARKS
Norman Robbins & Paul Schroeder
The United States will announce that it will withdraw all military forces from Iraq as quickly as the situation on the ground permits, with the final goal of near 100% American military withdrawal. The United States will also renounce any desire for permanent military bases in Iraq.
There are two key conditions, with measurable benchmarks, for withdrawal:
1. Each major troop drawdown must be followed by a quantifiable decrease in both military and civilian casualties before another troop drawdown takes place;
2. US economic aid for reconstruction will be tied to defined progress in Iraqi government protection of minority rights, power sharing, and equitable distribution of oil revenues.
The proposal responds to the objections of those who resist a unilateral withdrawal deadline. It also holds out the distinct possibility of reduced violence and US withdrawal in less than a year from the time negotiations begin.
Recent polls show that most Americans and most Iraqis want the military occupation to end, but many worry about resultant internal chaos if we leave. The counter is that as long as the American military remains in Iraq, the more our presence fuels the insurgency and the chances for Iraqi civil war. As well, there is widespread Iraqi resentment about American regulations on economic development and control of oil resources. Therefore, remaining a military presence in Iraq and hoping for improvement are not realistic.
In addition, it is clear that violence will persist until Sunnis are guaranteed a proportionate share of oil and power, and their minority rights are protected. As well, there is widespread Iraqi resentment about American regulations on economic development and control of oil resources.
Many talk of specific measurable benchmarks needed for American withdrawal, but proposals to date have been too vague or dependent on military rather than political benchmarks. So the time is ripe for meaningful withdrawal proposals that are truly bi-partisan.
Part One: The United States will announce withdrawal of forces from Iraq as quickly as the situation on the ground permits, with 100% withdrawal being the final goal and, second, no permanent military bases.
The first step toward withdrawal is creation of an agreement between the Parties (to be determined) that as soon as the U.S. begins withdrawal of a negotiated percentage of troops below the pre-December 2005 election baseline, a negotiated percentage decrease in the combined number of US military and Iraqi civilians killed or wounded will follow within 30 days. The baseline for the level of violence will be the 30 days just prior to the first US troop withdrawal.
The decrease in violence is defined as a decrease in deaths or injuries caused by insurgents (which would have to be enforced by the Sunnis), by Sunni attacks on Shiites, and by Shiite attacks on Sunnis). The United States will insist that appropriate Iraqi Parties be responsible for controlling Al Qaeda violence in Iraq. Just which group(s) would be responsible for this component would be determined by the Parties.
The source of these benchmarks will be the United States Department of Defense for U.S. troops, and the Iraq Body Count for Iraqi civilians.
Military leaders on both sides need to determine the geographic units (e.g. provinces or sectors) in which this process should begin, prior to ultimate expansion to all areas of Iraq.
When the first benchmark is met, the U.S. will next withdraw a negotiated larger percentage of troops with a concomitant larger decrease in military and civilian casualties, and so on for subsequent withdrawals, until casualties are reduced down to 15 % of the baseline prior to the agreed baseline.
Once casualty levels are 15% of that prior to the December 15, 2005 election, all remaining American troops will be withdrawn from Iraq, except for those necessary to protect the American embassy.
At each withdrawal stage, if the reduction in casualties exceeds the minimum percentage agreed to, the next reduction would be proportionately greater than planned. This provides incentives for quicker withdrawal of American forces. If reduction of casualties falls short of the agreed upon level, however, the next reduction would go forward at a slower rate than agreed.
If during the process the Parties agree to a general cease fire, full and complete military withdrawal could be accelerated.
This arrangement contains an important self-enforcing element: those Iraqi elements, whether Sunni or Shiite that commit violent acts responsible for deaths or injuries to American military or Iraqi military or civilians could be held responsible by Iraqis for prolonging the American occupation -- an unenviable position.
Verification of violence reduction would be monitored by the League of Arab States or the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The timetable for troop withdrawals and concomitant reductions in violence would be negotiated between the United States and representatives of Iraq's major groups (Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds).
Part Two: While American withdrawal can be pegged to decreased violence, it should not be held hostage to the historic power struggles between the parties in Iraq. Because these power issues fuel violence, the United States should use economic and reconstruction levers to insist that an accommodation on oil revenues, power-sharing, and the control of the internal security Ministry is negotiated by the newly elected power blocks.
The US can peg continued funding for reconstruction to progress in such accommodations. This may require amending the new Iraqi Constitution. Nonetheless, any such requirements, as well as implementation of a specific plan on power sharing, would be according to an Iraqi timetable negotiated between the three major Iraqi groups.
As part of this process, the United States would formally rescind economic strictures imposed during the occupation, let the Iraqi government freely choose its form of economic development and natural resource use, and allow the parties to work out their own form of co-existence.
To help mediate this process, the U.S. would ask assistance from the League of Arab States or the Organization of the Islamic Conference. U.S. troop withdrawal removes the League's current reluctance to participating in such a process.
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