Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Reid and Senator Ted Kennedy released a letter to President Bush addressing reports that his administration is considering alternative forms of governments in Iraq besides democracy. The Democratic leaders called on the President to fulfill his commitment to the American people that his administration will continue to promote democracy in Iraq and change the course from his failed, stay the course strategy. Staying the course and allowing Iraq to slip further into civil war, and further away from democracy, is not in the interests of our troops, taxpayers, or national security. America and Iraq deserve a new direction.
The text of the letter is below:
August 17, 2006
The White House
Dear President Bush:
According to today’s New York Times, it was reported that Administration officials are “beginning to plan for the possibility that Iraq’s democratically elected government might not survive” and that “senior administration officials have acknowledged…they are considering alternatives other than democracy.”
If true, we are deeply concerned that your Administration would even consider abandoning democracy in Iraq. Spreading democracy to Iraq, and to the entire Middle East, became your justification for the war in Iraq, after it was clear that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction would not be found. As you said in April 2005, “The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a crushing defeat for the forces of tyranny and terror, and a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.”
However, such rhetoric from the Administration about the importance of creating democracy in Iraq has never been sufficiently backed by a long-term strategy or financial commitment to the many non-military steps essential to achieve democracy in Iraq. In the past year, for example, Congress appropriated $160 million to support the key non-governmental democracy-building organizations serving in Iraq because the Administration failed to budget for their important work. Congress is now poised to set aside an additional $70 million for their work through September 2007.
The Iraqi people need to know that your Administration is still genuinely committed to building, strengthening and consolidating democracy in their land. The Iraqi people have placed their hopes for the future on the promise of a democratic Iraq and are paying a high price waiting for fulfillment of that promise.
We hope these reports are not accurate, and that you will publicly reiterate America’s support for democracy in Iraq.
Edward M. Kennedy