Senate Democrats

Schumer, In Democratic Radio Address, Calls For Change Of Course In Iraq

Senator Chuck Schumer delivers this week’s Democratic Radio Address, calling on the President to work with Congress to forge a new direction in Iraq. Democrats remain united in our efforts to fully fund our troops and change course in Iraq.

Here is the text of Senator Schumer’s radio address:

Good morning. This is Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senator for New York.

On Tuesday, we in Congress sent President Bush an emergency spending bill that did two things. It fully funded our troops – because we will never leave our troops stranded. And at the same time, it required the President to change the mission in Iraq to what should be our first and foremost goal – counter-terrorism.

This war has devolved into something the President never mentioned when he asked our country to go to war in Iraq, and something that we never bargained for – policing a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

The Sunnis and Shiites have been bitter enemies long before we got there, and that will continue long after we leave.

It’s simply not the job of America or our troops to stand in the middle of a civil war as Sunnis and Shiites shoot at each other and pay no heed to the central government while our troops are caught in the crosshairs.

Our legislation requires that one year from now our mission fully change away from a policing a civil war and towards three narrow goals: protecting U.S. troops, training Iraqi forces and conducting counter-terrorism operations.

This will require many fewer troops in Iraq and those that will remain will largely be out of harm’s way, but will have the ability to take out any Al Qaeda camps that might pose a threat to America.

This is a plan that makes sense to so many of our generals, the troops on the ground, the American people and people around the world.

Unfortunately, the President vetoed our resolution. But that will not deter us from finding other ways to achieve our two goals – fully supporting the troops while dramatically changing our mission.

No amount of name calling, hyperbole or imputation that we don’t support the troops will deter us from these goals.

I know how strongly the President feels that he is right, but if he looked at the facts on the ground, he would come to the conclusion that most Americans have – we need a change in direction. Even General Petraeus who spoke with Congress last week agrees that a military solution alone cannot work.

Mr. President, we know you oppose the resolution that Congress sent you last week, but on behalf of the American people and our soldiers, we ask you to work with us to find a way to both fund the troops and change the mission.

The American people – and most of all our brave soldiers – deserve no less.

I am Senator Chuck Schumer. Thank you for listening.