Saturday, January 6, 2007

Harry Reid on the Iraq War

From Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's response to Bush's Saturday Jan. 6 radio address (from Bush talks peace, Democrats war Mark Silva's The Swamp blog 01/06/06):

In pursuit of results, the new Congress will face many challenges this year, but none more important than working with President Bush to find an end to the intractable war in Iraq.

Almost four years since it began, the war continues to exact an enormous toll on our nation. This past December was the deadliest month in two years. We’ve now lost over 3,000 of our sons and daughters to this war, and still have over one-hundred and forty-thousand serving in harm’s way today.

These troops and their families have given so much, they now deserve a strategy that will bring this war to a close.

From news reports, it appears President Bush will come forward with a new war plan next week. My fellow Democrats in Congress and Americans everywhere anxiously await the details of this plan.

Yesterday, in a letter to the President, the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and I expressed our hope the President will reject one idea he is reportedly considering – the so-called “surge option,” where thousands of additional combat troops would be deployed to Baghdad.

Based on the advice of current and former military leaders, we believe this tactic would be a serious mistake. These military professionals tell us there is no purely military solution in Iraq, there is only a political solution in Iraq. They say adding more U.S. combat troops in the middle of this civil war undermines our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their future, and asks our already overstretched military to carry a burden the Iraqis should be shouldering themselves.

As General John Abizaid - our top commander for Iraq and the Middle East said - “more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more.”

Rather than deploying additional forces to Iraq, we hope the President will make clear to the Iraqi government that the time has come for them to assume more responsibility for their future, and that he will announce he is beginning the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months.

Our troops and their families have already sacrificed a great deal for Iraq. They have done their part. It’s time for the Iraqis to do their part.

When President Bush does come forward with his plan, Senate Democrats will keep working with his administration to help the Iraqis succeed. We have a series of Iraq oversight hearings scheduled this month. We will use these hearings to ask tough questions, demand real solutions, and keep working to bring this war to a close.  (my emphasis)

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