FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2008
Contact: Press Office
Hillary Clinton: Ready to End the War in Iraq
Today, in a major speech ahead of the five year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, Hillary Clinton outlined new proposals that build on her three-part plan to end the war responsibly. Five years after the start of the war, we have come to a crossroads. The war has sapped our military and economic strength, damaged U.S. national security, taken the lives of almost 4,000 brave young men and women in uniform, and placed a lasting toll on the tens of thousands of wounded, many with invisible injuries like Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The George W. Bush-John McCain strategy is to continue this failed policy. We need to end this war and bring our troops home. We need to press the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country. We need to rebuild our alliances and enlist the international community in securing stability in Iraq and the region.
To learn more about Hillary Clinton’s record on ending the war in Iraq, click here.
We need a Commander-in-Chief who is both committed to ending this war and who has the strength, experience, and leadership to do it the right way. Hillary Clinton is that candidate. As President, she will:
I. START BRINGING OUR TROOPS HOME
Bring Our Troops Home. As President, one of Hillary's first official actions will be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She will direct them to draw up a clear, comprehensive plan for withdrawal that starts removing our troops within 60 days. The plan for withdrawal will incorporate the most effective on-the-ground strategies and tactics to move personnel and equipment efficiently out of combat zones and then out of the country, and will focus on protecting our troops and reducing the risk of attacks as they come home
Hillary knows that as we bring our troops and contractors home, we cannot lose sight of our very real strategic interests in this region. Al Qaeda terrorist cells continue to operate in Iraq, cells that did not exist before President Bush’s failed policy. Under Hillary’s plan the United States will retain counterterrorism forces in Iraq and the region to fight al Qaeda and will not permit terrorists to have a safe haven in Iraq from which to attack the United States or its allies.
Protecting Those Who Protect Us. As President, Hillary will ensure that our troops receive sufficient time at home between deployments to rest, reconnect with their families, and receive appropriate training for their next mission.
Stop Wasting Money on No-Bid Contracts. Spending on federal
contracts has been the fasting-growing part of the discretionary budget
over the past six years, yet has received little attention. Under
this Administration, the number of no-bid contracts has more than doubled,
and between 2000 and 2006, spending on these contracts has increased 121
percent to $103 billion, representing more than half of federal procurement
spending. During this time, companies like Halliburton have enjoyed
record profits, thanks to a 700 percent increase in taxpayer funds awarded
to them. A recent Congressional report identified a wide range of
contracts, running into the hundreds of billions of dollars, where federal
auditors found massive overcharges, wasteful spending, and poor oversight.
Hillary has proposed a measure that would create a new “point of order”
against any spending bill in Fiscal 2009 that does not explicitly require
a federal agency’s compliance with competitive contracting rules.
As President, Hillary will work to ensure that this becomes law and that
we stop wasting money on no-bid contracts.
II. SECURE STABILITY IN IRAQ AS WE BRING OUR TROOPS HOME. Greater political and economic stability means safer conditions for our departing troops and a smoother disengagement from our military’s missions across Iraq. In order to foster stability as U.S. troops begin to redeploy, Hillary will focus on political reconciliation inside Iraq and holding the Iraqi government accountable for political and economic progress. She will:
Call Upon the United Nations to Play a Greater Role in Addressing Domestic Strife in Iraq. As President, Hillary will press the United Nations to play a central role in bringing about national accommodation in Iraq, as it did with positive results in Bosnia, East Timor, and elsewhere. Not having been a party to the mistakes of the past five years, the UN, which has already provided valuable technical assistance to Iraq, is far more likely to be viewed as a neutral, honest broker than the United States – especially when it acts on behalf of a broad coalition of concerned states and the international community. The new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has indicated he is willing to play a key role in assisting the Iraqis, and Hillary will ensure that the UN envoy in Iraq has the necessary authority by obtaining the Security Council’s explicit endorsement of a strengthened UN mandate to promote reconciliation.
Pursue an Integrated Strategy to Bring Stability to Iraq. The surge has emphasized a bottom-up strategy that has reduced violence in the short term but, in the absence of an effective national strategy, risks deepening sectarian divisions within Iraq in the long run. For example, the United States has established and armed local security elements – the Awakening in Anbar, for example, and other “Concerned Local Citizens” elsewhere – without getting the Iraqi government to live up to its agreement to integrate significant numbers of these local militias and “volunteers” into provincial police forces or the national Army. As President, Hillary will pursue a strategy that seeks to empower local leaders, but she will prioritize national accommodation, which is essential to stability. She will do this by using U.S. and international influence and assistance as leverage to press the Iraqis to reach agreement on key issues, including provincial elections, the hydrocarbon law, and on the overall nature of federalism. Hillary will press the United Nations into a central role in this effort.
Appoint a Special Counsel to Make Reconstruction Funds Accountable. As Iraq’s oil production increases, the potential revenue accumulated from oil production should increasingly fund Iraq’s reconstruction, instead of U.S. taxpayer money. Since 2006, Iraq has earned more than $80 billion from oil, and that figure is growing rapidly. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the war, the U.S. has provided roughly the same amount of money as the Iraqi government to rebuild the country (the United States has appropriated roughly $47 billion; the government of Iraq $50 billion). Even as we send billions to Iraq while they earn billions in oil revenues, there are increasing reports that the Iraqi government is not spending its budget allocated for reconstruction. The Comptroller General of the U.S. testified that the capital expenditure rate for the central ministries in Iraq was only 7% as of November 2007. Hillary is committed to ensuring that Iraqi oil revenue is dedicated to reconstruction funding – and that the money is actually spent, so that Iraqi citizens receive basic services, such as electricity and clean drinking water, which are currently lacking for so many. As President, Hillary will appoint a special counsel to investigate where Iraq’s oil profits are going and how reconstruction funds are being spent – or not spent. She will ensure that reconstruction funds are spent wisely before providing the Iraqi government with more.
Combat the Black Market in Oil to Dry Up Funds for the Insurgency. Corruption and stolen oil sold on the black market constitute a critical funding source for the insurgency. As President, Hillary will boost joint U.S.-Iraqi efforts to combat corruption and protect the oil supply. She will direct her Secretary of Defense to plan a nationwide U.S.-Iraqi crackdown on oil black marketers, ensuring that U.S. and Iraqi personnel have the resources and manpower necessary. This effort will be designed to disrupt lines of funding for the insurgency, to increase stability, and to reduce attacks on our troops during the withdrawal. Hillary will direct the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction to conduct regular reports on corruption in the oil industry. She will be prepared to withhold portions of aid if the Iraqi government does not show meaningful results in its anti-corruption efforts. Finally, Hillary will double the funding for oil pipeline exclusion zones, which prevent illegal tapping and attacks on pipelines; and she will also provide resources to stop cross-border smuggling of black market oil.
III. A NEW REGIONAL DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE
Enlist the International Community to Stabilize the Region. Our allies and friends in the region all have a stake in a stable Iraq. Until now, in part because of the way the Bush Administration has behaved, they have gotten a free pass. No longer. As President, Hillary will have a unique opportunity to reach out to our allies and partners in the region and press them to take greater responsibility for what happens in Iraq. She will hold a major regional stabilization meeting early on in her Presidency. This group will be composed of key allies, other global powers, and all of the states bordering Iraq. The mission of this group will be to develop and implement a strategy to create a stable Iraq. In advance of that meeting, Hillary will confer with our treaty allies as well as our friends in the region to coordinate policy before gathering with the larger group of nations. One of her first international meetings as President will be with these leaders, including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan, and Egypt, as well as our European allies in order to push for greater responsible action towards Iraq, including more assistance. This will send a strong signal of our country’s determination – as we draw down our forces – to ensure that the rest of the world plays its part in stabilizing Iraq. Hillary will then convene a regional stabilization group composed of key allies, other global powers, and all of the states bordering Iraq. The mission of this group will be to develop and implement a strategy to create a stable Iraq.
Provide for Refugees. As our forces redeploy out of Iraq, Hillary will also organize a multi-billion dollar international effort under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address the needs of Iraqi refugees. The UN will also play a role, helping to deal with the resettlement of refugees and others displaced from their homes, a number which now exceeds four million. With the price of oil at record levels, the government of Iraq now has considerable financial resources available. As President, Hillary will also press the UN to establish a mechanism by which some of those Iraqi funds could be used to feed, clothe, shelter, and otherwise provide for these millions of refugees. Addressing the upheaval caused by this displacement will facilitate a smoother exit and a less risky end to the war.