From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
On the heels of the updated National Intelligence Report on Iraq, Obama proposed eight things the United States should do, including redeploying troops, issuing a "transparent timetable" and ramping up diplomatic efforts
"This National Intelligence Estimate underscores the fundamental truth that we cannot continue to substitute the bravery of our troops for a true commitment from the Iraqi government to resolve the grievances at the heart of their civil war, and a true commitment from the Administration to aggressive diplomacy," Obama said.
Here's what Obama proposes:
-Responsibly redeploy our troops from Iraq by issuing a transparent timetable for the planned withdrawal of our troops.
-Aggressively surge the diplomacy required to press for a political solution within Iraq, and to keep neighboring countries from fomenting instability in Iraq.
-Dramatically increase assistance to Iraq's two million displaced.
-Dramatically increase assistance for refugees, including the more than 2 million in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.
-Fill the 7,000 asylum slots in the United States that the State Department pledged to fill earlier in the year. Political leadership will be required to expedite the department of homeland security's review of Iraqi asylum applicants. Thus far, this year, only 190 Iraqis have been allowed into the United States -- an embarrassing number given the scope of the problem, and the fact that many Iraqis have risked their lives working with American forces in Iraq.
-Appeal to those countries that were part of the Coalition in the Iraq war to expand their refugee quotas and to increase bilateral assistance to Iraq's neighbors who are carrying the refugee burden. Arab governments, especially US allies in the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, should also be enlisted.
-Ensure that our military and financial assistance to Iraq's government and security forces is not being diverted to sectarian militias.
-And make clear to the militia leaders and government officials in Iraq that the United States and the international community is going to catalogue and prepare to hold the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable for their crimes.
**** UPDATE 1****
EDWARDS: "As today's new National Intelligence Estimate reveals, the violence in Iraq remains high, attempts to reconcile the political factions have failed, and the political leaders remain 'unable to govern effectively.'
"I am the only candidate to call for an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 troops, to jump-start all parties to let go of the crutch of the American military and start working on a real countrywide political solution. Congress also must have complete information about a political solution well in advance of the end of October, when they will again have the opportunity to use their Constitutional funding power to force the president to change course.
"I am also calling today for an immediate diplomatic offensive from the Bush Administration. This 'diplomatic surge' must begin with an 'Iraqi Stability Conference' that would include high-level meetings by American and allied diplomats with all leading Iraqi Parliamentarians, sectarian leaders, the governments of both Iran and Syria, and leaders in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait. These meetings should be aimed at real commitments of how these parties will contribute to a long-term comprehensive plan to stabilize the country."
DODD: "The reported conclusions of the latest NIE are another sign that, even as American troops continue admirably to serve in Iraq, the Iraqi government has done virtually nothing to put its house in order. With no progress on political reconciliation between the various sects in Iraq, it is clear that President Bush's tactic of troop escalation has failed to achieve its goal of convincing Iraqi leaders that they must take bold steps to promote stability and reconciliation in Iraq. In fact the report confirms that Sunnis and Shia remain deeply suspicious of each other with no sign of reversing that belief anytime soon. Indeed, this report is further evidence that there is a disconnect between military operations to establish security in Iraq and elsewhere in the country and the willingness of an Iraqi political leadership to take advantage of improved security to promote political compromise and reconciliation on behalf of all Iraqis.
"I do not believe that Iraq's political leaders will have any incentive to demonstrate bold leadership and reach a political accord until we begin redeploying American troops and it is clear that finally they must fully assume responsibility for their country."
**** UPDATE 2****
CLINTON: "As I have said many times before, there is not a military solution in Iraq. Progress will only come from political reconciliation and compromise from the Iraqis themselves. In January, President Bush argued that the escalation of U.S. troops into Iraq would create the political space for reconciliation among the Iraqis. At the time that the President announced the escalation, I opposed this new strategy because I did not believe the Iraqi government was committed to making the tough political decisions necessary for Iraq to resolve its sectarian divisions. Indeed, the declassified key judgments from the most recent National Intelligence Estimate regarding "Prospects for Iraq's Stability" clearly demonstrate that progress toward political reconciliation in Iraq has not been achieved since the beginning of the President's decision to add additional troops into Iraq. The NIE's key judgments provide additional evidence that the President's escalation strategy has failed. We need to stop refereeing this civil war, and start getting out now."