WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization Act calling on President Bush to initiate a diplomatic surge to complement the efforts of our military in Iraq.
“A diplomatic surge is necessary if we want to change course and redeploy our combat forces from Iraq,” said Casey. “If we are going to have sustainable success in Iraq, we must engage in diplomatic outreach to ensure that Iraq’s neighbors are properly invested in its future. I’m pleased Senator Murkowski has joined me in introducing this important amendment and I hope that the Senate will send a message to the President that now is the time for diplomacy.”
“Military progress alone will not provide for the conditions for a stable and secure Iraq,” said Senator Murkowski. “We need a civilian and diplomatic surge to go with the military surge. I am pleased to join Senator Casey to urge the Administration to place a greater emphasis on these areas to achieve stability within Iraq.”
The amendment proposed by Senators Casey and Murkowski expresses the need for a comprehensive diplomatic offensive to help broker national reconciliation efforts in Iraq and lay the foundation for the eventual redeployment of U.S. combat forces out of Iraq. The amendment is intended to focus attention on a missing element of U.S. strategy in Iraq: a “diplomatic surge” to help ensure that Iraqi national leaders carry through on the process of national reconciliation.
The amendment calls for the following steps, among others:
The United States should take the lead in organizing a comprehensive diplomatic offensive, consisting of bilateral, regional, and international initiatives, to assist the Government of Iraq in achieving national reconciliation and meeting security, political, and economic benchmarks;
The United States should bring together Iraq’s neighbors through a regional conference or other mechanism to develop specific measures to stabilize Iraq and, in particular, end the outside flows of weapons, explosive materials, foreign fighters, and funding that contribute to the current sectarian warfare;
The President and the Secretary of State should invest their personal time and energy in these diplomatic efforts to ensure that they receive the highest priority within the U.S. government and are viewed seriously in the region;
The President should appoint a seasoned, high-level Presidential envoy to the region to supplement the efforts of Ambassador Crocker and focus on the establishment of a regional framework to help stabilize Iraq;
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations should seek the appointment of an international mediator in Iraq to engage political, religious, ethnic, and tribal leaders in Iraq to foster national reconciliation efforts;
The United States should more directly press Iraq’s neighbors to open fully operating embassies in Baghdad and establish inclusive diplomatic relations with Iraq so that the Iraqi government is viewed as legitimate throughout the region;
The amendment reflects a key recommendation of the Iraq Study Group which called upon the United States to “embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region.”
Finally, the amendment also focuses attention on the need to implement a “civilian surge” to ensure that all components of the U.S. government are contributing to assist the Iraqi government to strengthen its capabilities to provide essential government services.