Senate Democrats

Reid: It Is Time To Change Course In Iraq

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada today delivered the following remarks before a Senate vote on whether to proceed with a debate on legislation to change the course of the war in Iraq. After four years of a failed Bush policy in Iraq, the time has come for a new direction. In just a few days, our country will mark a solemn anniversary – the beginning of the fifth year that war has raged in Iraq. For the fifth year, this war has taken a tremendous toll on our country, our troops, and their families, and our standing in the world. 3,200 American soldiers, sailors and marines have been killed in Iraq. We’ve seen tens of thousands wounded | men and women who have come home to a health care system unprepared and ill-equipped to care for them, our army has been stretched dangerously thin, and our Treasury has been spending week after bloody week $2 billion each week. $2 billion each week. Despite these tremendous costs, despite this great sacrifice, despite the opposition to this war, Iraq continues to spiral out of control. In February, attacks in Iraq increased dramatically. 3 American soldiers, and 100 Iraqis, died every day – every day. March is just as bad. Our burdened troops—including hundreds of Nevadans—have done everything asked of them. It’s their political leaders at home who’ve failed – who’ve failed our troops and the American people. President Bush didn’t go to war with enough military on the ground. President Bush didn’t have a plan to win the peace, much less the war. President Bush surrounded himself with "yes men" who told him what he wanted to hear – not what he needed to hear. To this day, President Bush lacks a plan to complete the mission, so our troops can come home. His current strategy of more of the same is not working. Five years into the war in Iraq, the mission has changed – but the Bush policy has not changed. Saddam is gone. There are no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is in chaos. There is no stability in Iraq. U.S. troops are policing a civil war, not hunting and killing the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. The original mission no longer exists. Yet President Bush wants to stay the same failed course, to surge toward more of the same, to sustain failure. Today, the Senate must finally send a clear message to the Commander-in-Chief: President Bush, it is time for a new way forward – to change course. The way to succeed in Iraq is not to do more of the same. It is to change the mission and change the course. Our country must have a surge, America must have an escalation, but the surge must not be a military escalation, but a surge in diplomacy. This is the message the American people delivered to Congress on November 7, 2006, and this is the message we must send President Bush today. In a few moments, we will have another cloture vote. I urge my colleagues to vote to allow the debate to proceed and then vote to change the course of this war.