Senate Democrats

Democrats Urge President To Offer Real Change for Iraq

Washington, DC — More than two months after the American people delivered an historic call for dramatic change and an end to the war in Iraq, President Bush is set to deliver a speech tonight which reports suggest will reject that call and propose escalating the war. Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer, Conference Secretary Patty Murray, and Senator Jack Reed joined Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark and Iraq war veteran John Soltz today to urge the President to heed the will of the American people, listen to the advice of his top military leaders, and institute real change in Iraq. Four years into what has become a civil war in Iraq, the generals and the nation agree: the time has come to transition our military mission, responsibly redeploy our troops, and end our open-ended commitment in Iraq. Democrats, Republicans, and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group have all offered President Bush a roadmap to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis and change the course of the war. Escalating the war, by contrast, is opposed by the military and the American people, and would only delay the day when the Iraqi government would reach the political settlement necessary to ensure their own future. The leaders today urged the President not to reject the advice of experts and the will of his nation, and called on him to announce a new plan to bring the war in Iraq to a close. "The President may be putting the cart before the horse,” said Senator Schumer. “To increase the number of troops without coming up with a workable strategy in Iraq doesn’t make much sense. If we simply continue to police a civil war, even with 20,000 more troops, soon after they leave the Sunnis and Shiites will continue fighting with each other we won’t have accomplished anything. And without a change in strategy, no amount of troops is going to make Iraq right." “The American people sent the President a loud message in November, tonight we’ll see if he listened. Our troops, their families and all Americans deserve a plan for a new direction in Iraq. The days of Congressional blank checks for a failed policy are over. Our country and our troops deserve better,” Senator Murray said. “Like most Rhode Islanders and many military leaders, I think the President’s plan is going to be too little, and too late. If 20,000 troops is the proposal, it will probably be inadequate, just as this fall’s increase in troop levels in Baghdad was unsuccessful,” said Senator Reed. “The President and others can try to paint this as a dramatic and aggressive move, but the key factor in Iraq remains reaching a political resolution among sectarian factions. The President has to get the Iraqis to step up. And if they are going to step up, then the size of our force is less important than the commitment of the Iraqi government to fundamental changes in their approach to sharing power and resources as well as addressing the militias.” Said General Clark, “After three and a half years of failed predictions and dashed expectations about our military’s performance in Iraq, President Bush owes the American people a detailed justification as to why a marginal increase in troops and more promises from Iraqi politicians will make any difference in the outcome in Iraq.” “Escalation in Iraq will not kill Osama bin Laden, won’t secure Iraq longterm, and will not make us safer here at home,” said Soltz, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “The only thing it is guaranteed to do is bring about an increase in American deaths for no reason. As a veteran of this war, I cannot overstate how much this escalation will betray our men and women in uniform by sending them on a mission to secure Iraq that can’t be achieved with force alone.” Democrats, Republicans, and the majority of the American people have all made clear they want a new direction in Iraq that begins to bring the war to a close. Four years into what has become a civil war in Iraq, the time has come for a real change.

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