Barack Obama becomes front-runner for 2008 â€¦
So, it's Obama.
The first to call for withdrawal in a year (13 months), with a proviso that the "redeployment" can be suspended --subject to a vote in Congress -- if Iraq meets a series of stringent benchmarks (that appear highly unlikely at this point). Obama would also allow a "residual" force to stay in the country.
Key Elements of Obama Plan:
- Stops the Escalation: Caps the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007. This does not affect the funding for our troops in Iraq. This cap has the force of law and could not be lifted without explicit Congressional authorization.
- De-escalates the War with Phased Redeployment: Commences a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. This redeployment will be both substantial and gradual, and will be planned and implemented by military commanders. Makes clear that Congress believes troops should be redeployed to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region. A residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.
- Enforces Tough Benchmarks for Progress: These 13 benchmarks are based on President Bush's own statements and Administration documents and include:
- Security: Significant progress toward fulfilling security commitments, including eliminating restrictions on U.S. forces, reducing sectarian violence, reducing the size and influence of the militias, and strengthening the Iraqi Army and Police.
- Political Accommodation: Significant progress toward reaching a political solution, including equitable sharing of oil revenues, revision of de-Baathification, provincial elections, even-handed provision of government services, and a fair process for a constitutional amendment to achieve national reconciliation.
- Economic Progress: Requires Iraq to fulfill its commitment to spend not less than $10 billion for reconstruction, job creation, and economic development without regard for the ethnic or sectarian make-up of Iraqi regions.
- Should these benchmarks be met, the plan allows for the temporary suspension of this redeployment, subject to the agreement of Congress.
Chris Bowers has a post arguing that Hillary's lead in the early trial heats isn't something to be casually ignored. But there's a large group in DC who believe that it's possible to win the Democratic nod without advocating a withdrawal from Iraq, and Hillary is among them so far (as is Biden, Edwards and all the rest except Kucinich).
While I imagine that all or at least most of the Dems will join Obama before long, for now he's the front-runner.