Senate Democrats

REID SPOKESMAN: AMERICANS UNDERSTAND WE NEED A NEW DIRECTION IN IRAQ

Washington, DCJim Manley, spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, released the following statement today on comments by White House Spokesman Tony Snow that Americans should stick to failed Republican policies in Iraq that have made our country less safe. While Republicans remain united behind a failed policy in Iraq, Democrats and the American people are fighting to change course.

“Americans aren’t buying the same, old, tired, Republican line that being strong on national security means being wrong on Iraq. It’s a ridiculous assertion and the sort of divisive politics that the American people reject. The truth is this White House and Republican Congress have made America less safe by stubbornly staying the course in Iraq in the face of mistake after mistake. With our troops in the middle of an Iraqi civil war, a crisis brewing in the Middle East, and threats to our safety like North Korea and Iran on the rise, the American people understand something the Bush White House does not–we need a new direction in Iraq to keep our country safe.”

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Snow Fails to Give a Single Reason why Americans Should Stick with Old, Failed Policies. It’s Time for a New Direction

Snow Suggests that Americans Will Prefer the Same, Failed Republican Policies in Iraq: “We are sticking with the positions we have taken. We think that they’re the right positions to take. . . .It’s going to be up to Democrats to see exactly how they want to play it. I will tell you the President’s position, which is the war on terror is vital, not only because the stakes are high, but also the rewards are high.” [8/9/06]

But Americans Trust Democrats More Than Republicans To Handle The Situation in Iraq. The poll asked which political party they trusted more to “handle the US campaign against terror.” Respondents preferred Democrats over Republicans, 43 to 40 percent. Four consecutive polls done by the Post have found that a plurality trust Democrats more when it comes to handling “the situation in Iraq.” [Washington Post Poll, 8/7/06]

Snow Suggests Americans Will Prefer the Same, Old Republican Rhetoric on Combating Terrorism: “A white flag, in short, means a white flag on the war on terror.” [8/9/06]

But Americans Trust Democrats More Than Republicans on the Fight Against Terrorism. The newest Washington Post poll shows that Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle the U.S. campaign against terrorism by 46% to 38%. [Washington Post Poll, 8/7/06]

Snow Suggests the Iranian Problem Gives Americans a Reason to Prefer the Same Old Republican Policies: “Let’s take a look at the global situation. You have Iran remaining not only stubborn in the face of the international community saying that Iran needs to suspend nuclear activities, but also encouraging the destruction of Israel and continuing to serve as a financier and organizer of terrorist organizations around the world.” [8/9/06]

But Iran’s Influence Has Only Grown under Bush. “Iranian influence in Iraq has surged since the U.S.-led invasion three years ago. Its reach into Afghanistan continues to grow. And now, the war in Lebanon could make Iran an even more important player in the Islamic world even as its militant Shiite Arab client, Hezbollah, gets pounded by Israel.” [AP, 7/22/06]

Snow Suggests that the North Korean Crisis Gives Americans a Reason to Prefer Republican Leadership: “We know that North Korea also poses certain threats.” [9/9/06]

But Even Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich Says North Korea Has Faced No Consequences from the Bush Administration: “Yes. Let me put this in a larger context. The United States said that there would be terrible consequences for Korea–North Korea if they fired their missiles. They fired their missiles. We then threatened that the Chinese would come visit them. The Chinese went and visited them, nothing happened. We then said we’ll go to the U.N., and on your show last week, we were told there was going to be a Chapter Seven very tough resolution. The Chinese said they’d veto it if it was tough. They passed a weak resolution, and within 45 minutes the North Koreans had repudiated the resolution. So there’s no consequence.” [NBC, "Meet the Press," 7/16/06]

Snow Suggests That Americans Will Prefer the Bush Record of Dealing with the Crisis in Lebanon: “Hezbollah remains, also, an independent actor, which is operating with the support of Iran and Syria, firing not only Katyushas but Zilzal rockets into Israel with the desire, not only of fomenting larger hostilities but also hoping to destabilize the prospects for democracy in the region. The reason I say this is that the stakes are high. It’s an important debate to have. And it is clear that at least some of the leadership in the Democratic Party believes that the proper way to address this is to point a finger at the United States and the council walking away.” [8/906]

But the Bush Administration’s Failures to Effectively Bolster Lebanese Democracy Contributed to the Current Situation. “The United States, in tandem with France, pushed hard for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, where Syria had served as a stabilizing but corrupt and oppressive force. But the administration paid much less attention to what came next. The criticism that the Bush administration failed to think through its policies is similar to that leveled against it in Iraq, where the White House and the Pentagon failed to plan for the aftermath of the U.S. invasion, and in the Palestinian territories, where the administration pushed for elections that brought the terrorist group Hamas into government. ‘Just getting Syria out (of Lebanon) was a narrowly focused policy,’ said Daniel Benjamin, a top counter-terrorism official in the Clinton administration who’s now at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘There was a lot of merit in that,’ Benjamin said. ‘But we only went half the distance.’ ‘We did nothing, we did absolutely nothing’ to bolster the weak Lebanese government after the Syrian withdrawal, said a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the comments contradict official policy.” [Mercury-News, 8/4/06]

Snow Suggests Americans Will Prefer the Bush Record on Democracy Promotion: “The president believes, and history will bear him out, that free and democratic states are far more peaceful and create the basis and opportunity, especially in an unstable part of the world, for economic, social, political ties that, in the long run, are going to be a lot closer than they are today. ” [8/9/06]

Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan Says Bush Democracy Promotion is a “Joke”. “I think the Bush democracy project is something of a joke now in the Middle East.” [MSNBC, 7/31/06]

And Bush Administration Policies Have Ended in Failure. For example, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. did not have a “good enough pulse” on the region before Hamas’s victory at the polls. “‘I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming,’ Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. ‘It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse.’ Immediately after the election, Bush administration officials said the results reflected a Palestinian desire for change and not necessarily an embrace of Hamas, which the United States, Israel and the European Union consider a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction. But Ms. Rice’s comments seemed to reflect a certain second-guessing over how the administration had failed to foresee, or factor into its thinking, the possibility of a Hamas victory.” [New York Times, 1/30/06]

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