Washington DC—U.S. Senators John Kerry and Jack Reed joined national security expert Rand Beers today to preview this week’s testimonies by General David Petraeus, Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, before the U.S. Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. Democrats believe we must change course in Iraq so we can focus on the war on terror, rebuild our military, and stop spending $12 billion each month in Iraq at the expense of priorities here at home.
“The Bush Administration doesn’t have a policy for winning in Iraq; they just have a policy for staying in Iraq,” Kerry said. “In 2004, they insisted that that ‘Iraqi leaders are stepping forward’ and that Iraqi troops were standing up rapidly, but four years later, after more than 4,000 brave American troops have given their lives and more than half a trillion dollars have been spent, Iraqi politicians still refuse to settle their differences and just last week 1,000 Iraqi troops quit in the heat of battle. Unless our policy changes, there is no end in sight. President Bush’s escalation was intended to give the Iraqi politicians breathing room to make political compromises. They refused to do it, and they’ll continue to refuse so long as our massive presence leaves the politicians a security blanket. There is zero accountability in this war policy. It’s time for us to demand real results from Iraqi politicians, and that starts by making it clear to them that we are not going have over one hundred thousand combat troops in Iraq indefinitely.”
Said Reed: “The American people are right to question why we continue to write a blank check to the Iraqi government instead of focusing more of our budget on American families struggling with the high cost of gas, groceries, and a slumping economy. General Patraeus has testified that the surge was supposed to create the political compromises the Iraqis have to make. Those haven’t happened and we need to change. The strategy for the United States must remain a careful, deliberate disengagement of our forces that shifts the burden to the Iraqis. An indefinite and open-ended commitment will not prompt Iraqi leaders to take important steps politically which they must take to stabilize the country.”
“Events on the ground as well as the hearings this week will demonstrate once again that Iraqis are not yet prepared to take over responsibility and there is no end in sight for the President’s strategy,” said Rand Beers, President of the National Security Network. “Meanwhile the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse and we are in danger of that country unravelling yet again. That is why we need to begin a responsible disengagement from Iraq and a diplomatic surge in the region in order to give Iraqis responsibility for their own future. We must begin redeployment to Afghanistan to focus on the real al Qaeda threat.”