Senate Democrats

Reid: The President’s Iraq Plan Is A Serious Mistake

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid today delivered the following speech on the Floor of the United States Senate, expressing his concern about President Bush’s plan to escalate the crisis in Iraq by sending tens of thousands more American men and women into the middle of a civil war. The text of Senator Reid’s speech, as prepared, is below. Mr. President, today the Senate will continue our important work on ethics reform. In the last few days, we’ve had a good, bipartisan debate in the Senate, and we’ve made significant progress towards giving America a government as good an honest as the people it serves. This morning, I’d like to talk about another important debate in our country – Iraq. Last night, after weeks of anticipation, President Bush announced his new war plan. I was encouraged that President Bush used his speech to finally admit mistakes have been made in waging the war, but by calling for the escalation of this conflict, he is on the verge of making another. As I made clear in a letter to the President last week, I oppose his new plan because it sends the wrong signal to the Iraqis. However, President Bush is the commander in chief, and his proposal deserves serious consideration by this Body. In the days ahead, we will give his proposal and the overall situation in Iraq a thorough review. We will have hearings on the President’s plan. We will ask experts about his proposal, and when the process is complete, we will have a vote in the Senate. This morning I will not prejudge the outcome of the vote on the President’s plan, but I will say this: I believe putting more U.S. combat forces in the middle of an Iraqi civil war is a serious mistake. Last November, voters across America spoke loudly for change in Iraq. In overwhelming numbers, they delivered a vote of no confidence in the President’s open-ended commitment, and demanded we begin to bring the war to a close. Last December, the Baker-Hamilton Commission—a respected panel of foreign policy experts who studied the war—echoed the voters’ call for change. The Commission, which included both Democrats and Republicans, determined the time has come to transition our forces out of Iraq, while launching a diplomatic and regional strategy to try to hold together this destabilized region. . But last night, the President—in choosing escalation—ignored the will of the people, the advice of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, and the guidance of his top generals. In choosing to escalate the war, the President stands alone. Brave soldiers from Nevada and every state in this country have sacrificed so much for Iraq. They have done their job. It is time for a policy that honors their service by putting the future of Iraq in the hands of the Iraqis.