Washington, DC – On the day before the president delivers another speech on the war in Iraq, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Carl Levin and Senator Jack Reed called on the president to provide a real strategy for success in Iraq. In a letter to the president, the Senators called on Bush to deliver more than a public relations document to the American people and our troops and to provide a strategy with benchmarks by which our progress can be measured.
The text of the letter follows below:
December 6, 2005
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Last week you delivered the first in what has been described as a series of speeches on the war in Iraq. Despite significant buildup before your speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, your address failed to meet the basic requirement laid out by a bipartisan majority of the Senate: “to explain to Congress and the American people [your] strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq.”
Instead of laying out the specific political, economic, and military benchmarks that must be met in order to facilitate the phased redeployment of U.S. forces, your speech and the accompanying 35-page document repeatedly relied on vague generalities such as “our strategy for victory is clear” and “our strategy for victory is working.” Repeating these phrases does not provide any clarity to our troops or the American people about the costs of this war or how and when it will come to an end. What is even more disappointing is the recent revelation that this document was prepared by a public relations expert not our senior military leaders.
Unfortunately, the speech and the accompanying “victory” document did nothing to clear up the growing confusion about your intentions in Iraq. For example, recent press reports that indicate your administration has developed plans for the redeployment of substantial numbers of troops from Iraq next year. Yet the continued public denial of such plans, coupled with the Administration attacks directed at those who would suggest such a re-deployment, leaves the American people confused and frustrated about your actual victory strategy. In order to secure the continued support of the American people for the mission in Iraq, you should use your speech tomorrow as an opportunity to speak more honestly and openly about the remaining tasks, challenges and plans for U.S. forces. We encourage you to deemphasize polling and marketing and stick to the facts, both good and bad. That’s what the American people and our troops want to hear.
We urge you to make the following points in your speech tomorrow:
2006 will be a year of significant transition in Iraq; the Iraqi people must get their political house in order to defeat the insurgency; the political, economic, and military benchmarks that need to be met to begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces; and a campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq as each benchmark is met, with the understanding that unexpected contingencies may arise.
We also strongly echo the call made earlier this week by the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, when he suggested:
“the president would be well-advised to gather around him, even at this late date, some Democrat and Republican senators and congressmen and reveal to them really what the strategy is, and take their criticism and constructive advice from them, and do so frequently.”
Only by outlining for the American people a full and complete strategy for success with the political, economic and military benchmarks by which to measure the progress and fully and publicly briefing the Congress about this strategy will the troops, their families and the American people truly benefit. We hope that in your speech tomorrow, you will set aside the public relations campaign and deliver the plan all Americans are seeking.
Senator Harry Reid
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Jack Reed