Senate Democrats

Talk Is Cheap …

With violence in Iraq increasing and last week’s progress report showing the Iraqi government and security forces have failed to stand up, it is clear that we must change course in Iraq and re-focus on the war on terror.  Unfortunately, four years into the war and six months since the escalation began, the Grand Obstruction Party is blocking an up or down vote on changing the course in Iraq.  Republicans who spoke against the President’s policy in January, and those that came out against it recently, must stop blocking the will of the American people and allow an up or down vote on the Levin-Reed amendment.  The American public, military, intelligence and foreign affairs officials, and editorial boards are all calling for a new direction.  It’s time Republicans stop obstructing, put their money where their mouths are and stand with the majority of Americans in supporting an end to this war. 

Six months Ago, when the escalation began, Republican Senators spoke against the policy.With escalation failing, Will they prove their talk isn’t cheap?

Senator Alexander Said Escalation by Itself Was Not a “Strategy for Success.”  “Sending 20,000 more American troops into Iraq to try to stop sectarian violence is not by itself new or a strategy for success.” [Shelbyville Times-Gazette, 1/1107]

Senator Brownback – from Baghdad — Said Escalation Was Not the Answer.  “I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer. Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution.”  [AP, 1/10/07]

Senator Bunning Was Skeptical of Troop Escalation.  “You bet I’m skeptical…I would rather see us maintain our current level and get them out of harm’s way and put Iraqi security forces in harm’s way.”  [Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/10/07]

Senator Coleman Opposed Troop Escalation.  “And to put the lives of Americans soldiers — more, in the center of that, without first having something that’s substantial, something we can point to, other than this sense of trust, other than looking someone in the eye, having a conversation. I’m not prepared, at this time, to support that. It’s — the cost is too great.”  [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]

Senator Collins Said Escalation Was a Mistake.  “Based on the trip I took to Iraq last month, I concluded it would be a mistake to increase the overall level of troops in Iraq.”  [Chicago Tribune, 1/11/07]

Senator Murkowski Was Not Convinced by the President’s Plan.  “I would agree with Senator Hagel that, given the American lives that have been lost in Iraq, we want to make sure that we have a policy that is worthy of their sacrifices. And those are his words. And I think they’re very well spoken. But I’m not convinced, as I look to the plan that the president presented yesterday, that what we’re seeing is that much different than what we have been doing in the past.”  [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]

Senator Shelby Was Not Enthusiastic of Escalation.  “I’m not enthusiastic… It seems to me that Iraq is bursting at the seams, that it’s chaotic. You have all these people fighting each other and we’re in between. I don’t know if 20,000 troops is going to do it. I don’t know if it’s too late.”  [AP, 1/11/07]

Senator Smith Opposed Escalation.  “We are extending an ineffective tactic to further the status quo. Iraqis must be the ones to settle their own peace.”  [AP, 1/10/07]

Senator Snowe Said Escalation Will Not Solve Iraq’s Problems. “Today, I am announcing my support for a Resolution put forward by this distinguished group of bipartisan Senators… Its focus rightly hinges on a diplomatic and political solution as a military solution is no longer feasible in Iraq. An increase in troops will not solve the root causes of violence in Iraq nor do I believe that the Iraqi government has shown the will or the capacity to bring about effective national reconciliation.” [Senator Snowe, 1/18/07]

Senator Specter Was Skeptical of Escalation. “After listening to the President’s speech, I remain skeptical that an additional 20,000 troops will produce victory because the professional military advisers have said those troops will not win the war, and the record shows that the Iraqis can not be relied upon to uphold their obligations under the plan.”  [Centre Daily Times (State College, PA), 1/11/07]

Senator Sununu Expressed Concerns about Escalation.   “There were some areas where I have a little bit more concern, such as whether or not the use of the troops discussed will really be appropriate in dealing with sectarian violence in Baghdad…”  [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]

Senator Voinovich Was of Skeptical Escalation.  “I think you should know that I am skeptical that a surge of troops will bring an end to the escalation of violence and the insurgency in Iraq. Many of the generals that have served there have said they don’t believe additional troops will be helpful in Baghdad particularly. And, Madam Secretary, my faith in Prime Minister Maliki’s ability to make the hard choices necessary to bring about political solutions has to be restored.  What we need is a political solution between the Sunnis and the Shiite.”  [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]

Senator Vitter Was Concerned Escalation Was Too Little Too Late.  “And so that does lead to a concern of mine that we may commit the same mistake I think we clearly have in the past, which is too little, maybe too late.”  [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]

Republicans have recently spoken against escalation and for redeployment.  Will they put their money where their mouths are?

Senator Alexander Says U.S. Needs to Get Out of the Combat Business in Iraq. “Alexander says the U.S. needs to ‘get out of the combat business in Iraq and into the support, equipping and training business in a prompt and honorable way.’” [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 06/27/07]

Senator Collins Calls for Redeployment. “‘My goal is to redefine the mission and set the stage for a significant but gradual drawdown of our troops next year,’ said Collins.” [Houston Chronicle, 7/10/07]

Senator Dole Calls for Redeployment. “Simply put, our troops have been doing a great job, but the Iraqi government has not. Our commitment in Iraq is not indefinite, nor should the Iraqi government perceive it to be. It is my firm hope and belief that we can start bringing our troops home in 2008.” [McClatchy, 7/11/07] 

Senator Domenici No Longer Supports the Escalation. “‘I want a new strategy for Iraq. I continue to completely support the men and women in the American Armed Forces. They have not failed us. It is the Iraqi government that is failing to make even modest progress to help Iraq itself or to merit the sacrifices being made by our men and women in uniform,’ Domenici said. ‘I am unwilling to continue our current strategy.’” [Senator Domenici Press Release, 7/5/07] 

Senator Gregg Supports Redeployment. “Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who helped lead the charge earlier this year against Democratic efforts to oppose Bush’s troop buildup, said: ‘We don’t seem to be making a lot of progress.’ It is vital to have ‘a clear blueprint for how we were going to draw down,’ he said.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/7/07] 

Senator Lugar Supports Redeployment.  “In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved. Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term. The longer we delay the planning for redeployment, the less likely it is to be successful.” [Senator Lugar Floor Speech, 6/25/07]  

Senator Snowe Says Escalation Has Failed. “Even so, other Republicans are making the break, frustrated that the administration’s plan to boost troop levels in Iraq has yielded little benefit. ‘This was their strategy that they have failed to fulfill,’ said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). ‘We’re at the crossroads of hope and reality and now we have to grapple with reality.’” [Chicago Tribune, 7/11/07]

Senator Smith Calls for Redeployment. “I am proud to cosponsor this amendment because it calls for what I have been stating for 7 months. It sets up a timetable to draw down our troops.” [Smith Floor Speech, 7/11/07]

Senator Voinovich Calls for Redeployment. “Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio sent a letter to President Bush on Tuesday stressing the need for a ‘comprehensive plan for our country’s gradual military disengagement from Iraq.’ Voinovich warned: ‘We’re running out of time.’” [Kansas City Star, 6/27/07]

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Redeployment, Against the War:

  • 64% of Americans Say the Escalation Has Been a Failure. [Newsweek, 7/13/07] 
  • Over 70% of Americans Support Redeployment. [USA Today, 7/10/07]
  • 75% of Independents Disapprove of President Bush’s Handling of Iraq. [CBS, 6/28/07] 
  • 73% of Americans Disapprove of President Bush’s Handling of Iraq. [Newsweek, 6/19/07]  
  • 67% of Americans Oppose the U.S. War in Iraq. [CNN, 6/24/07]

Iraqis aren’t too happy with the war either:

  • 78% of Iraqis Do Not Support Having U.S and Coalition Forces in Iraq. [ABC]
  • 66% of Iraqis Things Are Going Badly in Iraq. [ABC]

Military, intelligence and foreign affairs experts say escalation has failed:

Non-Partisan Persian Gulf Experts Believe the Iraq War is Lost. “Meanwhile, a consensus is building among nonpartisan experts on the Persian Gulf that the Iraq war is lost and the United States should now work toward ways to minimize the damage done to U.S. interests in the region.” [Newsday Editorial, 6/27/07]

Director of Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Says Petraeus Does Not Have Enough Troops. “Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., the director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a national security think tank, said flatly that Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, does not have enough troops. ‘I suspect General Petraeus is taking a risk here, but that’s what commanders do,’ he said.” [Washington Post, 6/23/07]

Middle East Expert Vali Nasr Says Escalation Is Not Working. “‘I think it is clear to everybody that the surge is not working,’ said Vali Nasr, a Middle East expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. ‘At the end of the day, the U.S. has proven to be as ineffective at protecting the shrine in 2007 as they were in 2006…. This favors the whole militia culture in Iraq.’” [Los Angeles Times, 6/14/07]

Naval War College Professor Says the Surge Is Laughable. “‘Strategically, the United States has lost that war, so the idea of the surge is laughable anyway,’ says Geoffrey D.W. Wawro, professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College.” [St. Petersburg Times, 5/18/07]

British Defense Attaché in Iraq Says Escalation Failing. “In a pessimistic assessment of the strategy designed to pull Iraq back from all-out civil war, Alastair Campbell, the outgoing defense attaché at the British Embassy in Baghdad, claimed that extra US forces were not achieving the desired drop in violence. Mr. Campbell, whose remarks may cause embarrassment to Downing Street and anger in Washington, said that the casualty figures for April – in which 1,500 civilians are believed to have been killed – provided no "encouraging" evidence. Speaking on the record last week to a public audience at Chatham House, the London-based foreign-policy research institute, he said: “The evidence does not suggest that the surge is actually working, if reduction in casualties is a criterion. The figures in April were not encouraging.’” [Telegraph (UK), 5/21/07]

Retired General Barry McCaffrey Calls Escalation a Fool’s Errand. “Retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who in 2003 was among the first to call public attention to the relatively small size of the U.S. invasion force, said that the new operation shows how outnumbered U.S. troops remain. ‘Why would we think that a temporary presence of 30,000 additional combat troops in a giant city would change the dynamics of a bitter civil war?’ he said in an interview yesterday. ‘It’s a fool’s errand.’” [Washington Post, 6/23/07]

Retired Major General John Batiste Says Escalation Too Little, Too Late. “Our national strategy for the global war on terror lacks strategic focus; our Army and Marine Corps are at a breaking point with little to show for it; the current ‘surge’ in Iraq is too little, too late; the Government of Iraq is incapable of stepping up to their responsibilities; our nation has yet to mobilize to defeat a very serious threat which has little to do with Iraq; and it is past time to refocus our national strategy and begin the deliberate withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.” [Maj. Gen. John Batiste Testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 6/27/07]

CIA Analyst Tom Fingar Says Violence Has Not Been Reduced Significantly. “But intelligence analyst Tom Finger told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday that those conditions had not been achieved. The violence levels ‘have not yet been reduced significantly,’ the Associated Press quoted him as saying. [Washington Times, 7/12/07]

International Crisis Group Analyst Says White House Knows Escalation is Not Working. “Mr. Hiltermann [an analyst] of the International Crisis Group said the White House knows the situation [in Iraq] is deteriorating. ‘They are moving into ‘Plan B’ mode, which is to contain the civil war,’ he said. ‘But it is going to be a multiplicity of conflicts that will reduce it to a failed state. It is going to be just awful.’” [Washington Times, 7/12/07]

Editorial boards around the country urge a new direction in Iraq:

The Albany Times-Union Says Redeploy Our Troops. “What could President Bush possibly tell Congress about the Iraq war this week that might stave off further defection and possible rebellion? He has to say and do something. Denial, of the sort this White House can be a master of, isn’t an option. The report that’s due by Sunday, apparently still unwritten, is a requirement of the very law that allows for the war to continue at all… The safest and most sensible role for U.S. forces, at this point, would most likely allow for the reductions in the overall troop commitment that more and more Republicans will be demanding.” [07/10/07]

The New York Times Says Redeploy Our Troops. “It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit… Continuing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of American soldiers is wrong. The war is sapping the strength of the nation’s alliances and its military forces. It is a dangerous diversion from the life-and-death struggle against terrorists. It is an increasing burden on American taxpayers, and it is a betrayal of a world that needs the wise application of American power and principles. A majority of Americans reached these conclusions months ago. Even in politically polarized Washington, positions on the war no longer divide entirely on party lines. When Congress returns this week, extricating American troops from the war should be at the top of its agenda.” [07/08/07]

The Boston Globe Says Redeploy Our Troops. “Public opinion and the open dissent of more and more Republican senators are forcing the Bush administration to reconsider its military strategy in Iraq — and its vague, dilatory timetable for troop reductions. The time has come for President Bush to face reality. The key decisions he must make now are not about staying the course, but about the best ways to reduce the numbers and the combat role of US troops.” [07/10/07]

The Los Angeles Times Says Redeploy Our Troops. “Whatever the future holds, the United States has not ‘lost’ and cannot ‘lose’ Iraq. It was never ours in the first place. And however history will judge the war, some key U.S. goals have been accomplished: Saddam Hussein has been ousted, tried and executed; Iraqis have held three elections, adopted a constitution and established a rudimentary democracy… But an important element needs to be taken off the table: American blood. The U.S. should immediately declare its intention to begin a gradual troop drawdown, starting no later than the fall… Having invested so much in Iraq, Americans are likely to find disengagement almost as painful as war. But the longer we delay planning for the inevitable, the worse the outcome is likely to be. The time has come to leave.” [05/06/07]

The Wichita Eagle Says Redeploy Our Troops. “President Bush must face reality: It’s time for a different strategy in Iraq, one that acknowledges America’s limited power to determine Iraq’s future. …Bush needs to chart a course that brings many of our troops home and redeploys others to fight in a more effective way in the war on terror.”  [7/10/07]

The Olympian Says Redeploy Our Troops. “How many more Americans will forfeit their lives on the battlefield between now and then? How many more tax dollars will be spent to stall America’s inevitable departure? It’s time to end the American bloodshed. It’s time to bring the troops home.” [7/4/07]

The San Francisco Chronicle Says Escalation Has Failed. “The administration is having similar difficulties admitting what is obvious to almost everyone else: surge or no surge, the U.S. military efforts to bring security and stability continues to show little or no progress, with almost no chance for a U.S. withdrawal under the terms set by President Bush — and almost certainly not by September… The purpose of the invasion was to effect regime change in Iraq. That has been accomplished. The administration’s argument that Congress has in effect given the president permission to keep U.S. troops in Iraq in perpetuity must be challenged and debated.” [06/19/07]

The Roanoke Times Says the War is Not Winnable. “Though President Bush seems psychologically incapable of the act, it is time for everyone else in the United States to recognize the inevitable: The occupation of Iraq is an utter, irredeemable failure. We cannot win there militarily or politically. Further expenditure of blood, lives and treasure will gain the United States nothing. Nor will it gain anything for the Iraqi people, who have seen only chaos and bloodshed from this intervention. We don’t come to this position lightly. Persuaded by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s United Nations presentation, The Roanoke Times Editorial Board supported the invasion of Iraq — though editorials even then warned of likely chaos following a military victory if necessary post-invasion resources were not committed. The administration did not commit those resources, and it bungled the occupation beyond anyone’s imagination. And the weapons of mass destruction Powell warned so persuasively about? They didn’t exist.” [05/06/07]

The Tuscaloosa News Says Escalation Has Failed. “In truth, that time arrived long ago, when it became obvious to most Americans that the government in Iraq has chosen to leave the heavy lifting to our country. Voters expressed their displeasure at the polls last year but Bush’s response was to intensify the war effort through a ‘troop surge.’  It has failed dismally and there is little surprise that people like Domenici are defecting now.”  [7/8/07]