Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
“During the long recess last week in Nevada, people all across the state told me that they are as committed as ever to ending the war in Iraq. They are long past ready to end the worst foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history.
“What has five years of war brought to America, the Middle East and the world? Thousands of deaths. A trillion in debt. A catastrophic failure of diplomacy. My Republican colleagues: Think what this war has done to our nation’s fiscal soundness. It has destroyed it.
“Soon $1 trillion borrowed, with the likely Republican nominee for President saying we may need to be in Iraq for another 100 years. We are nearing the tragic milestone of 4,000 American troop deaths. Thirty-thousand wounded, many gravely – amputations, blindness, hearing loss and untold thousands with head trauma, making life after war most difficult.
“This week brings news from the Pentagon that there will be 140,000 American troops in Iraq in July, 8,000 more than when the surge began in January 2007. In Iraq a civil war rages – with the past two days bringing us the news of a Sunni attack on Shia while they observed a religious holiday – an attack that killed dozens and wounded more than one hundred. Of course, the Shia will reciprocate.
“In Israel, we find the Bush Administration too preoccupied to be concerned with the volatility of the Palestinian/Israeli situation. Now we have a raging civil war in the Palestinian territory, Hamas vs. Fatah. A government cannot be formed in Lebanon, which some say is also a civil war. Iran is thumbing its nose at us and the world community. Torture, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, warrantless spying on American citizens – all a result of this misplaced war.
“In an op-ed published in today’s Washington Post, three noted writers and foreign policy experts said this:
‘Republicans will claim that after four years of disastrous mistakes, the Bush administration finally got it right with its troop “surge.”
‘Yet even despite the loss of nearly 1,000 American lives and the expenditure of $150 billion, the surge has failed in its stated purpose: providing the Iraqi government with the breathing space to pass the 18 legislative benchmarks the Bush administration called vital to political reconciliation.
‘To date it has passed only four. Moreover, as part of the surge, the administration has further undermined Iraq’s government by providing arms and money to Sunni insurgent groups even though they have not pledged loyalty to Baghdad.’
“My high school pal – I named one of my boys after him, he named one of his after me. I am proud of my namesake. He is a heroic helicopter pilot, having served a difficult tour in Afghanistan, and now, Iraq. We exchanged regular emails during his time overseas. These emails were wonderful. Before going to Iraq, we met in Las Vegas for dinner. He proudly told me war stories. Stories of real-life valor.
“But now, the emails have stopped. I asked his father why. His dad told me that his son said, They need to get us out of here. He wants to come home, with the rest of the troops. But the mission has not been accomplished. We have not been met as liberators. After five years of war, we are still an occupying force.
“Iraq – with untold wealth because of its oil supply – must take care of its own citizens. Americans need to take care of Americans.
“We will soon vote on two amendments that will begin to change course in the bloody Iraq civil war. Our first vote is on a bill to responsibly begin to redeploy our troops so that we can refocus on other threats and challenges – counterterrorism, force training and protecting our assets. The other bill calls for a report from the Administration on the status of the fight against Al Qaeda, on terrorism.
“As the war in Iraq rages, bin Laden remains free and his terrorist network is gaining power worldwide. This legislation will shine the spotlight on this unmet challenge of fighting terrorism and keeping our country safe. Today, tomorrow, and beyond, I urge my colleagues to seek common ground toward a new American foreign policy that strengthens our security, supports our troops and begins to restore our nation’s ability to lead once again.”