Democrats now have both the integrity and the 'mandate' lost by George W Bush, to transform the United States policy on Iraq, and the simplest and most world-positive solution is dreadfully obvious:
ask Iraq, ask its neighbors.
Ask those who the Bush war has seriously wronged: the remaining Iraqi people, and their neighbor-States. Ask those for whom recent US foreign policy has inflicted outrageously insensitive and illegal war, has increased domestic unrest and Islamic fundamentalism, or the worsening status of the Israeli-Palestinian equations.
Ask them the following simple questions:
From which country or countries would you accept outside security forces on Iraqi soil, from February 1, 2007 until June 30, 2008... that occupying force to be paid by the budget of the United States Government?
From which countries or regions would you accept reconstruction assistance, from public, NGO or private sectors, in partnership with Iraq's Federation of Workers' Councils and the (remaining) private sector?
Given the obvious source's of Iraqi wealth, its oil and gas reserves, its agricultural capacities and native intelligence, what fair division is possible among regions or across religious lines?
IOW: what's your payoff, to lay down your arms?
The Democratic Congress should instruct the President that such an obvious plebicite, for the benefit of all Iraqi citizens living on the territory, is the third-way, the one solution that negates both 'Stay-the-course' victory-chasing, and the mis-named 'Cut-n-Run' which has stained this necessary dialogue.
Answering these questions could truly be the only 'third-way', for it offers what is sure to happen: increased US expenses in Iraq; it may reverse that which may be irreversible – increased animosity by an ever-worsening world opinion over US foreign policy; and, it puts responsibility at the roots of all possible Iraqi futures: in the hands of its own people.
Whether the United States increases its ground forces in Iraq in these post-election 'final throes' of the Republican paradigm, or whether some withdrawal-of-forces variant – as surely will be presented by either the Baker Iraqi Study Group or a future Democratic initiative, there will be continued high costs incurred by the American taxpayer in 2007. What would promote transparency and create results in actual Iraqi reconstruction efforts would be the transfer of US funds to either a European coalition, or an Islamic-based coalition, capable of reducing the mistrust of Iraqis.
By initiating this Plebiscite the US, through Democratic Congressional leadership, would aggressively stride towards a more open-arms world focus, that might equate with a reversal of the cynicism perceived within the Bush Administration, and the skepticism or dismay of various countries historically allied with the United States. It shows willingness to atone for the mistakes that have been committed since 2001.
The Iraqi people, and the citizens of other Islamic States in the region, would be asked by such serious questions to absorb some responsibility for their own destiny, in effecting a choice of new alliance partners (Ie: France, China, Indonesia, Brazil), in choosing capable private-sector players in construction, engineering and other development sectors, and give them hope that the Bush nightmare is ending.
Second priority to a Democratic Congress, would surely be to pass a law that provides, in the incidence of US citizens or corporations who, while implementing various US Government initiatives effecting Iraq, have fraudulently diverted, stolen or misused funds or contracting authorities, would be liable to extradition TO Iraq for legal procedures and punishment.
This Act, perhaps the "US Restitution of Iraqi Integrity Act", would address the legal implementation of the taxpayers' contribution to the really democratic new State of Iraq...
** If asked "is the Glass half-empty, or half-full, know there is yet one other response: the Glass is TOO LARGE...