Washington, D.C. –Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today cosponsored a proposal to protect America by outlining a way forward in Iraq. The proposal makes three key policy statements about Iraq and moves to hold the Bush administration more accountable for a strategy for success in Iraq.

The proposal, offered as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill on the Senate floor establishes that 2006 must be a year of significant transition in Iraq to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqis taking more and more responsibility for their own security. It requires the Bush administration advise the Iraqi people that U.S. military forces will not stay indefinitely in Iraq, and that it is their responsibility to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political environment essential for defeating the insurgency. Finally, it mandates that the president submit, on a quarterly basis, a plan for success to Congress and the American people that specifies the challenges and progress being made in Iraq with timetables for achieving our goals and estimated dates to bring our troops home.

“For more than three years, the American people have been told to stay the course. But ‘stay the course’ is a slogan, not a strategy, and definitely not a plan for success in Iraq,” Harkin said.

“Americans and Iraqis alike need to know that the United States is not a permanent occupying force in Iraq. This notion provides the insurgents with a powerful recruiting tool, and eliminates the pressure on political leaders in the new Iraqi government to make the compromises necessary to achieve a broad based and sustainable political settlement.

“Our troops and their families deserve the respect and gratitude of the American people for their service and sacrifice. The best way to honor them is to establish–at long last– a strategy for success and stability in Iraq.

“This administration needs prodding. By requiring the President to report regularly on specific goals, I hope to force him to do what he has failed to do so far – present a comprehensive plan that leads a stable Iraq and a redeployment of American troops.”

A Summary of the Proposal Follows:


Getting Answers to the American People on the War in Iraq – Mission NOT Accomplished

For too long, the Bush administration has failed to lay out a clear strategy for success in Iraq to the American people. Their rosy statements about the progress of the war are not matched by the conditions on the ground. In their few appearances before the Congress, the Secretaries of Defense and State have failed to answer the most basic questions about our progress in the war or provide even the simplest benchmarks by which the American people could measure our progress. Democrats are offering an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that holds the Administration accountable for its actions and requires it to present a real plan for success.


Our troops and their families deserve the respect and gratitude of the American people for their service and sacrifice. The Administration has said that as the Iraqis stand up, we can stand down. Democrats believe we should see a significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty in 2006 so that our troops can begin coming home. We also believe the Iraqi people must understand that the U.S. military will not stay in Iraq indefinitely; they must achieve the political stability necessary to defeat the insurgency.

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION MUST PROVIDE A PLAN: It is essential that the Bush administration submit an unclassified strategy for success in Iraq to the Congress and the American people specifying how and when our troops can begin coming home.

An Assessment of the Bush Administration’s Actions to Achieve Progress in Iraq. The Bush administration must provide information on its efforts to convince Iraq’s communities to make the necessary compromises for a political settlement; efforts to engage the international community to help stabilize Iraq; efforts to strengthen the capacity of Iraq’s government ministries; efforts to accelerate the delivery of basic services; and efforts to train Iraqi security forces so those forces can protect Iraq on their own.

An Assessment of the Compromises Made by the Iraqi People to Achieve the Broad-Based and Sustainable Political Settlement.

An Unclassified Report to Congress and the American People. The Bush administration has classified most significant information about their Iraq war plans and kept that information from the Congress. The President should submit to the Congress and the American people an unclassified plan for success in Iraq. We deserve to know the conditions we seek to establish, the challenges we face in achieving these conditions, and the progress we are making. This report should also include:

The number of Iraqi battalions that must be able to operate independently or take the lead in counterinsurgency operations

— The number of Iraqi special police units that must be able to operate independently or take the lead in policing

— The number of regular police that must be trained and equipped

— The ability of Iraq’s Federal ministries and provincial and local governments to independently sustain, direct and coordinate Iraq’s security forces

THE BENCHMARKS FOR SUCCESS. The Bush administration must also provide benchmarks by which their success can be measured. This includes the criteria by which to measure the progress being made and a schedule for meeting these conditions.

A PLAN FOR BRINGING OUR TROOPS HOME. As it lays out a clear strategy with benchmarks, the Bush administration must also provide a campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq as each condition is met, with the understanding that unexpected contingencies may arise.