Washington, D.C.–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Speaker Nancy Pelosi today sent the following letter to President Bush, calling on him to reconsider his opposition to Congressional proposals that would limit the U.S. mission in Iraq, begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces, and bring the war to a responsible end:
June 13, 2007
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Last November, the American people overwhelmingly made clear their desire to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Yet, at the start of this year, you announced a substantial escalation of our military presence in Iraq. This so-called “surge” was clearly at odds with past experiences in Iraq, the wishes of the American people, and the advice of many senior military leaders, including General Douglas Lute, your “war czar” nominee. Nevertheless, you proceeded to call up thousands of additional National Guardsmen and Reservists, extend the tours of tens of thousands of brave troops already in Iraq, and plunge our forces even deeper into Iraq’s civil war.
As many had foreseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results. The increase in U.S. forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation. It has not enhanced America’s national security. The unsettling reality is that instances of violence against Iraqis remain high and attacks on U.S. forces have increased. In fact, the last two months of the war were the deadliest to date for U.S. troops.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s political leaders have done little to unite their nation and diffuse sectarian tensions. Recent reports indicate that the Iraqi government is unlikely to enact any of the legislative benchmarks which you endorsed in your January 10 speech. While our troops and their families are required to make greater sacrifices on behalf of the Iraqi people, Iraq’s political and military leaders are unlikely to meet any of the standards for measuring progress which only a few months ago were thought not only possible, but essential, to achieve. On June 12, the former head of the US training operation in Iraq, General Dempsey, gave an assessment of the capability of Iraqi security forces that concluded that after years of effort and massive expenditure of resources, Iraqi units remain uneven in their quality and reliability.
Congress on a bipartisan basis sent you legislation in April that set forth a new strategy for Iraq that responded to the wishes of the American people and better served America’s national security interests. This legislation, which you unfortunately chose to veto, was consistent with the approach advocated by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group late last year. That strategy called for transitioning the role of U.S. forces away from policing a civil war to missions that are consistent with our strategic interests, namely fighting terrorism, training Iraqis, and protecting U.S. forces. The strategy also would have begun the phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq so that Iraqis could take responsibility for their own security.
In light of the additional evidence since your veto that your plan is not working, it is clear that a course correction in Iraq is needed. That is also the view of a substantial majority of the American people. Rather than respond with a new plan immediately, Administration officials as well as Republican congressional leaders suggest that your flawed Iraq strategy not be revisited until September when General Petraeus is scheduled to provide Congress with a progress report on Iraq. The only step you have proposed in the interim is to divest your National Security Advisor of control over Iraq policy and create a “war czar” position, an act that has only served to create further confusion and concerns about your plans for Iraq.
The American people cannot and should not have to wait until later this year for changes in your flawed Iraq policy. There is an obligation to act now. That is why we intend to again send you legislation that would limit the U.S. mission in Iraq, begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces, and bring the war to a responsible end. These are goals consistent with both the national security of the United States and the will of the American people. We respectfully request that you reconsider your previous opposition to proposals that would accomplish these goals, and work with us to give our troops a strategy worthy of their sacrifice. We look forward to discussing these issues with you when we meet at the White House later today to discuss stability in the Middle East. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
|Harry Reid||Nancy Pelosi|