Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
“Today the eyes of the world will look upon the Senate as General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testify before the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. The appearances of these good and honorable men are meant to create an open, honest, productive dialogue with Congress on the state of the war in Iraq and its future. I hope that does occur.
“But as the American people weigh the testimony and consider the best course of action in the far-off nation of Iraq, only two questions matter: First – has the troop surge brought us closer to the day when our troops can come home? Second – is the war in Iraq making America safer? By all accounts, the answer to both questions is no.
“The stated purpose of the surge, according to President Bush, was ‘return on success’ – meaning that if the surge worked, our troops could return home. Now, the President claims success – but where is the return?
“It is clear to anyone that violence has surged. Eleven young Americans have been killed in combat since Sunday. Dozens and dozens more have been gravely wounded. Attacks on the Green Zone have intensified. That is supposed to be the safest part of Iraq. The conflict between Al-Sadr and Al-Maliki shows no signs of progress.
“Has the surge brought us closer to the day when our troops come home? We have already heard that General Petraeus has requested a freeze of troop levels, and that President Bush is likely to accept that request. Has the surge brought us closer to the day when our troops come home? Clearly, the answer is no.
“Has the war in Iraq made America safer? Military experts agree that our Armed Forces are stretched thin beyond sustainable levels.
“Because our manpower and equipment is in Iraq, we are not committing the resources to hunt down our number-one enemy, Bin Laden, and his Al Qaeda network. Because we are bogged down in Iraq, we are not fully engaged in the global challenges of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the Middle East. The moral authority of our great nation has suffered grave damage, with our former allies refusing to stand with us in ever greater numbers.
“Has the war in Iraq made America safer? There is no question that it has not.
“The surge may have provided a temporary window for the Iraqi government to make progress, but it is becoming increasingly clear that that window is closing and the opportunity has been squandered.
“Even now, with the war in its sixth year, President Bush has failed to articulate an exit strategy. He likes to say that we will only leave Iraq once victory has been achieved. It is time for the President to be honest with the American people: what does victory look like to him? How does all this end?
“We must not commit our courageous troops to the endless task of policing another nation’s bloody civil war. The job of America’s Armed Forces – a job to which they risk and often give their lives and limbs – is to protect our country and its interests. It is time to recommit to that crucial purpose – and begin to responsibly end this war.”