H.R. 3797, The New Diplomatic Offensive for Iraq Act

Supported by the Friends Committee on National legislation, the Unitarian Universalist Assn, and other religious organizations

H.R. 3797 would require the President to seek to institute a regional diplomatic plan for the Middle East.

Detailed Summary

New Diplomatic Offensive for Iraq Act - Directs the President to implement a regional diplomatic plan in conjunction with the U.N. Security Council to: (1) curtail the ongoing civil war in Iraq; (2) prevent the spread of violence from Iraq into neighboring countries; (3) prevent the establishment of safe havens for al-Qa'ida and other terrorist organizations; (4) prevent regional conflict; (5) prevent genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity; and (6) promote a national process of reconciliation within Iraq.

States that is U.S. policy to: (1) undertake a sustained diplomatic effort to engage the governments of regional nations on issues that impact the situation in Iraq; (2) continue and expand U.S. direct bilateral talks with nations neighboring Iraq on issues of mutual interest; (3) support the goals specified in the International Compact for Iraq; and (4) encourage the increased engagement of international organizations in working to achieve stability and security in Iraq.

Directs the President to appoint a Presidential Special Envoy for Iraq Regional Security whose duties shall include: (1) discussions with the government of Iraq and governments of neighboring countries to support Iraq's efforts to achieve peace and stability and to take necessary actions to prevent regional instability, including organizing a related Iraq Support Group; and (2) working with Iraqi officials and other domestic stakeholders to organize a forum for negotiations on national reconciliation.

Directs the Secretary of State to organize an international donors conference to solicit additional international commitments of funding and support for reconstruction and economic development in Iraq.

Directs the President direct the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations to seek a Security Council resolution that: (1) supports regional and international cooperation in promoting stability and development in Iraq; (2) encourages increased support for efforts to rebuild and expand Iraq's economy and critical infrastructure; and (3) authorizes renewed U.N. assistance to promote security and political reconciliation in Iraq, including a commitment to an increased U.N. role following the beginning of a U.S. Armed Forces' redeployment from Iraq.
Status of the Legislation

Latest Major Action: 10/10/2007: Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Comment from Friends Committee on National Legislation
A Diplomatic Surge to Stop the War in Iraq
and Prevent a War with Iran

Urge Your Representative to Support "The New Diplomatic Offensive for Iraq Act"

Bipartisan coalitions of legislators in both the House and Senate are cosponsoring new legislation calling for a "diplomatic surge" on Iraq as a first step toward fundamental changes in U.S. policy toward Iraq and an essential precondition for a new policy that seeks to prevent a war with Iran and stabilize the Middle East.

This legislation is the next step toward building support in Congress for the radically different U.S. approach to the Middle East that we at FCNL have long advocated and which was laid out and given establishment backing by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group in its December 2006 report. Nurturing this awareness and growing it into the majority view is essential if U.S. Iraq and wider regional policy after the November 2008 elections is to be significantly different from the policy of current administration.

Take Action

* Urge your senators to cosponsor legislation introduced by Senator Robert Casey (PA) and four others that affirms that there is no military solution to the Iraq war and cites the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group for a robust diplomatic initiative including all of Iraq's neighbors. (S. 2130).

* Urge your representative to cosponsor the New Diplomatic Offensive for Iraq Act (H.R. 3797) introduced by Representative David Price (NC) and 17 others that requires the administration to develop and implement a new diplomatic strategy on Iraq.

What are the elements of the radically different approach to U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, and the broader Middle East that's needed?

The essential starting point for any new policy is a declaration that the U.S. intends to withdraw all of its military forces from Iraq, not just some of them. The Iraq Study Group made this point when they called on the president to declare that the U.S. did not seek permanent bases in Iraq and stated that the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces had to be on the negotiating table with Iraqi factions and neighboring states.

The second element is a rapid, phased withdrawal of U.S. forces. FCNL has been advocating a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq since 2004. The Iraq Study Group envisioned the withdrawal of three quarters of U.S. forces within fifteen months, while the U.S. discussed the timetable for the withdrawal of remaining forces with Iraqis and the neighboring states.

The third element is the inclusive negotiations with all of Iraq's neighbors and all Iraqi factions that FCNL has long called for and which the Iraq Study Group made the centerpiece of its recommendations. And engaging in inclusive negotiations means abandoning efforts to promote "regime change" in Iran and Syria.

Why is it important to keep working to build support for this approach by supporting legislation such as S. 2130 and H.R. 3797?

Congress still hasn't gotten the message that the U.S. needs a comprehensive new policy in Iraq that includes the three steps the U.S. must take to undo the damage and reduce the threats created by the Iraq war.

While House and Senate votes in the last six months have demonstrated there is a bare majority in both chambers in favor of a phased withdrawal of two-thirds or three-quarters of all U.S. troops from Iraq, there is not a majority in Congress in support of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops. Congressional support for serious negotiations with Iran and Syria finds little expression, while efforts to vilify and take coercive action against Iran gain overwhelming majority support.

In this congressional climate, the next administration which takes office in January 2009-- regardless of which party wins the elections-- may not have support for a new, comprehensive approach to U.S. policy in Iraq, Iran, and the Middle East. A new administration could easily continue many elements of the failed policy put into place by the Bush administration. As a result, we at FCNL believe people around the country need to take every opportunity to build Congressional support for a new U.S. policy.