Since the United States invaded Iraq five years ago this week, nearly 4,000 American troops have lost their lives, and nearly thirty thousand more have suffered serious injuries, while as many as a million Iraqis may now be dead. We have already spent more than $500 billion, and the costs of the war to the U.S. economy are expected to ultimately exceed $3 trillion.
There is still no end in sight. And the war goes on endlessly at a time the U.S. economy is slipping into a very serious financial crisis, and hundreds of thousands of American families risk losing their homes to foreclosure.
For five years we've asked our leaders in Washington D.C., how are you going to end the war in Iraq? How do we bring our troops home? How do we redirect the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on the war to solving our problems here at home? And how do we prevent the mistakes that led to this fiasco from happening again in the future?
For five years we have asked our political leaders these questions, and for five years the answers never came. Well, about six months ago, some fellow Democratic challengers and I got tired of waiting, and today we introduce the fruit of our impatience: "A Responsible Plan For Ending The War In Iraq." It is intended to map out how we can end the war and prevent a mistake like this from ever happening again.
Working with such military experts as Major General Paul Eaton, who was General Petraeus' predecessor in Iraq, and building off the work of the Iraq Study Group and existing legislation, we have created a plan for congressional action to answer these questions and fundamentally change the debate on national security. This is the conversation our public officials, citizens and the media need to be having, but have not – until now.
This plan presents a set of actions that Congress can take to remove all troops from Iraq while engaging in a diplomatic, political and economic offensive in the region. It is designed to convert our current costly and unsuccessful military approach to a more effective civilian one that addresses the root problems we face in Iraq. It moves us away from the use of military tools and enables more robust diplomatic and humanitarian work. It offers a path to rebuild the military, the State Department, and a commitment to take care of returning veterans.
It also offers a deeper look at our decision-making problems, and fixes the breakdown in checks and balances by rolling back excessive executive authority, restoring civil liberties, and ending practices such as torture and the privatization of the military. Ultimately we believe that restoring our Constitution is the only way to prevent a repeat of these mistakes and take us where we need to go to end this war responsibly.
The national media likes to say that Iraq is off the table, but voters in my district don’t seem to have gotten that memo. If anything, the public still gets it even when the media does not. Voters in national polls say that the economy is their top issue, but when you ask them what is the one thing we can do to fix our economy, they overwhelmingly cite ending the war. And they are right; as a nation, we simply cannot afford this misguided war any longer.
But it will require more than just a plan to end this war; it will require both public pressure and political will. It will require you. Together we can build both grassroots and grasstops support around the ideas contained in our Responsible Plan. Together, we can bring our troops home.
What can you do? Responsible Plan PDF of "A Responsible Plan To End The War In Iraq" from DarcyBurner.com, and then go to ResponsiblePlan.com to learn how you can get involved. Contact your challenger to ask them to sign on to the plan, or call your representative and ask them to support the cited legislation. And of course, all the challengers who have taken the initiative to put forth this plan, and stake their campaigns on bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq need your financial support. Please go to the Responsible Challengers page at Act Blue and contribute what you can to your favorite candidates or the entire slate.
Our presentation begins at 5:30PM ET. Please watch the live stream here, and leave me your feedback in the comment thread. And thank you for your support.
[UPDATE 6:45PM: The presentation is now over. Thank you for watching.]