Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today joined Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer, Carl Levin, and Jack Reed to demand that Bush Republicans join Democrats, America’s Generals, and the Iraqis to work for change of course in Iraq. In the fourth year of the war, with new and growing threats around the world that will not wait until it is convenient for America to address them, our national security will no longer allow for Bush Republicans loyalty to failed policies.
Democrats have offered a comprehensive plan to transition the mission in Iraq and begin the phased redeployment of US troops, a plan that is in line with proposals offered by America’s Generals and by the Iraqi government. Meanwhile, Bush Republicans have offered nothing but slogans.
“From Afghanistan to Somalia to North Korea and Iran, we’re moving in the wrong direction. Threats to freedom are on the rise, and we’re not able to meet them because one hand is tied behind our back in Iraq,” said Senator Reid. “Does President Bush agree with the Generals, the American people, the Iraqi Prime Minister and Senate Democrats that beginning a phased redeployment this year gives our troops and Iraq the best chance for success? If that’s his plan and he agrees with Democrats, he should say so. If it’s not, he should tell us what his plan is.”
Said Senator Schumer, “When a Democrat sets specific dates for withdrawal, the Administration attacks us, but then a few days later General Casey’s proposes a plan with specific dates. Then Democrats propose pulling out troops with no dates, and the Administration attacks again. But days later, Prime Minister Maliki unveils a similar plan. The only people who don’t think we need a plan are at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The bottom line is, Americans care deeply about what is happening on the ground in Iraq, and not what resolution is on the Senate floor.”
“The Bush Administration’s refrain that we’re in Iraq as long as the Iraqis need us is creating a dependency of unlimited duration, and gives the Iraqis the impression that their security is more in our hands than in theirs,” said Senator Levin. “This open-ended commitment of U.S. forces in Iraq is unsustainable and counterproductive, contributing as much to Iraqi instability as it does to Iraqi security.”
“It is imperative that the Bush Administration recognize that the war on terrorism is much larger than the war in Iraq. And they need to be candid about this fact with the American people,” said Senator Reed. “We need to begin to strategically redeploy our forces from Iraq to help provide increased flexibility as we confront worldwide threats. This Administration has always taken a short sighted view of foreign policy. But the global war on terror is a long war. We need to take a longer view. I hope the Administration will find that path.”
Democrats believe the first responsibility of government is to protect the American people. A year after pushing the Republican Senate to declare that 2006 must be a year of significant transition in Iraq, and three months after unveiling the comprehensive Real Security Plan, Democrats remain committed to the tough AND smart policies needed to protect America. After five years of Bush Republican incompetence, our national security demands a new direction.