The Obama Plan
Illinois Senator Barack Obama has introduced a bill that, effectively, prohibits President Bush’s new strategy for Iraq, i.e. the surge. In its key elements the Obama plan:
- Stops the escalation by capping the number of U. S. troops in Iraq at the number there as of January 10, 2007.
- De-escalates the war in Iraq by compelling the commencement of a phased re-deployment of U. S. forces beginning no later than May 1, 2007.
- Enforces a number of benchmarks for progress in Iraq.
- Provides for Congressional oversight.
- Calls for intensified training of Iraqi security forces.
- Places conditions on economic assistance.
- Launches a regional diplomatic initiative.
I haven’t located the actual text of the bill but will link to it when it becomes available.
At first blush, judging only by the statement on Sen. Obama’s web site, and taken solely from a political standpoint the proposal strikes me as a remarkable combination of brilliance and idiocy.
It’s brilliant since, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first such proposal out the gate and, while it’s not too different from a plan proposed a few months ago by John Kerry, Dick Durbin, and others (IIRC including Obama), it’s sure to have Obama’s competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination playing catch-up. Should it be passed by the Senate Sen. Obama may well have become the de facto leader of the Democratic Party and the leading contender for his party’s nomination.
But the plan is idiotic, too. The last thing that Democrats want to do at this point is to take ownership of a failure in Iraq, which should it be passed by both houses would surely be the case. If it fails to pass in the Senate or is tabled there, it will cast doubt on the sincerity of Senate Democrats’ opposition to Bush’s plan.
The obvious counter-ploy by Obama’s competition for the presidential nomination in the Senate is to oppose the Obama plan on the grounds that it doesn’t go far enough. This would bid fair to alienate moderates and place Democrats in a difficult position in 2008.
Again with the caveats above I think it’s likely that this move is an attempt to draw a line in the sand, neutralizing or marginalizing Sen. Clinton and placing other potential Senate competitors to the unelectable left.
Update: Yes, the Obama plan seems to be rather reminiscent of the Kerry-Feingold Amendment defeated last summer. It adds a troop freeze, changes the dates, and adds provisions for benchmarks and withholding of economic support. Obama doesn’t appear to have been a co-sponsor of Kerry-Feingold.
Update 2: The bill is S.433. Text is still unavailable.