CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his top lieutenants announced a new joint resolution on Iraq that says U.S. troops are in the middle of a "bloody civil war" and all combat units should be out by March 31, 2008.
The Democratic leadership's measure states American soldiers should not be policing a civil war and sets a goal of starting a phased withdrawal within 120 days of Senate passage. Reid, D-Nev., likely won't be able to find enough votes for action any time soon so the troops probably are staying.
Still, the move puts pressure on the White House and Iraq's leadership. The Democrats said Iraq "must take responsibility for its own future" and the rhetoric is designed to emphasize the case that Iraq now is embroiled in a vicious power between Sunni and Shiite factions. The Democrats contend U.S. policy should shift to focusing on fighting terrorists elsewhere while the Iraqis fight among themselves.
"The President's strategy in Iraq is not working, and Congress must decide whether to follow his failed policies or whether to change course. Democrats believe, as does an overwhelming majority of the American people, that the time has come to transition the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq. Hopefully, Senate Republicans will now join Democrats and the American people in calling for a change in course. They must put doing the right thing above protecting the President," Reid said.
Senate Republicans have twice blocked debate on Iraq this year. At this point, there ranks are still holding firm. Reid's co-sponsors are his No. 2, Dick Durbin of Illinois, New York's Charles Schumer, Patty Murray of Washington, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Indiana's Evan Bayh.
The condensed version of the Reid Resolution from the Democrats follows:
Reid Joint Resolution To Revise United States Policy On Iraq
-- We support the troops;
-- The circumstances cited in the 2002 use of force authorization have changed substantially;
-- U.S. troops should not be policing a civil war;
-- U.S. policy in Iraq must change to emphasize the need for a political solution in order to maximize the chances for success and more effectively wage the war on terror.
Redeployment of U.S. Forces From Iraq
-- The President shall promptly transition the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq and begin the phased redeployment no later than 120 days following enactment;
-- Goal to redeploy all combat forces from Iraq by March 31, 2008 except for a limited number that are essential for the following purposes:
* Force protection
* Training and equipping Iraqi troops
* Targeted counter-terror operations
New Comprehensive Strategy to Ensure Stability in Iraq
-- Redeployment shall be implemented as part of a comprehensive economic, diplomatic, and political strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community.
-- New policy seeks to change course, transition the mission, and bring stability to Iraq.