Senate Democrats

National Intelligence Estimate Paints Gloomy Picture for Iraq’s Political Future

Today, the intelligence community released their latest National Intelligence Estimate which confirmed that the Iraqi government is failing to achieve meaningful political reconciliation, the stated goal of the President’s current Iraq policy, while our troops are forced to police a civil war. This summer has been the bloodiest to date and any modest improvements in security have not been matched by the political progress of Iraq’s leaders. As Democrats and Republicans have made clear, the only way forward is a political solution that, unfortunately, is a long way off. In light of the NIE and other recent assessments of Iraq’s political situation, the U.S. must change course.

Democrats have consistently said that there must be political solution in Iraq

In November 2006, Senators Reid, Durbin, Levin, Rockefeller and Reed Said Internal Strife in Iraq Can Only Be Stopped through a Political Solution. “Violence in Iraq has reached critical levels, and the violence is not predominantly instigated by insurgents, but is taking place between Sunnis and Shia. It is our belief that Coalition military action alone cannot end this violence. Indeed, General Abizaid has testified that more U.S. troops will not address the fundamental problems in Iraq. This internal strife can only be stopped by a political solution that is created and implemented by the Iraqis themselves. Prime Minister al-Maliki acknowledged this fact when he stated on Sunday that “The crisis is political, and the ones who can stop the cycle of aggravation and bloodletting of innocents are the politicians.” A special envoy can play an indispensable role in assisting the Iraqis in finding solutions.” [Letter from Senators Reid, Durbin, Levin, Rockefeller and Reed to President Bush, 11/28/06]

In December 2006, Senator Reid Said There Can Only Be a Political Solution in Iraq. “The President must understand that there can only be a political solution in Iraq, and he must end our nation’s open-ended commitment to that country. Democrats have given the President a roadmap for change in the Reed/Levin plan. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group has called for the withdrawal of American combat forces by 2008. President Bush is Commander-in- Chief, and only he can make the decisions necessary. With our troops still stuck in the middle of a worsening crisis, it is critical that he change course in Iraq.”  [Sen. Reid Statement, 12/19/06]

In January, Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi Said There Is No Purely Military Solution in Iraq – There Is Only a Political Solution. “Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution.” [Letter from Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi to President Bush, 1/5/07]

In February, Senator Reid Said There Can Be No Purely Military Solution in Iraq, and Must Be a Political Solution. “By announcing its decision to redeploy troops from Iraq, the British Government has acknowledged a reality that President Bush still stubbornly refuses to accept. There can be no purely military solution in Iraq. The British recognize there must be a political solution, and the Iraqis themselves must make the necessary political compromises. It is past time for President Bush to acknowledge that basic truth.” [Senator Reid Statement, 2/21/07]

In February, Senator Reid Said We Need a Political Solution in Iraq. “‘We need a political solution to this,’Reid said. ‘We’re losing 20 soldiers in Iraq each week. The war’s costing us about $425 million dollars a day. It’s obvious the course must change.’” [Agence Presse France, 2/28/07]

In April, Senator Reid Said There Was No Military Solution in Iraq. “It’s painfully clear to me, the American people, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, military experts all over the country, and the Iraq Study Group: The only way to succeed is to give our troops a strategy that their sacrifices deserve. These groups know there is no military solution in Iraq. General Petraeus, the commander on the ground, has said so himself. Twenty percent can be won militarily and 80 percent has to be won through our diplomatic efforts, politics and economics. I repeat: The only way to succeed lies through a comprehensive political, diplomatic and economic strategy. So says the commander on the ground there, General Petraeus. Unfortunately, the only one to whom this is not obvious is our President.” [Sen. Reid Floor Speech, 4/20/07]

In April, Senator Reid Said Our Military Alone Cannot Establish a Democracy in Iraq. “‘Here is the bottom line,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a speech in which he quoted a retired Army general who opposes Bush’s policy. ‘Americans must come to grips with the fact that our military alone cannot establish a democracy.’” [Associated Press, 4/24/07]

In May, Senator Durbin Said Victory in Iraq Must Have a Political Solution. “As our generals tell us, we cannot win this by military means. It will take a political solution. If the Iraqis can’t summon the political will to deal with the situation, it’s just unfair to leave our soldiers in the crossfire of this war indefinitely, so the important question now is—with benchmarks, what price will the Iraqis pay if they fail to meet them.” [Public Affairs, 5/19/07]

In July, Senator Levin Said There Is No Solution Other than a Political Solution. “But ours is the only amendment that we know of so far that is binding, that would tell the Iraqis that we are going to begin to take a step to force them to take responsibility for their own nation. It’s long overdue; the Iraqis have been fiddling while their Baghdad capital has been burning. And there is no solution in Iraq other than a political solution.” [PBS Newshour, 7/16/07]

In July, Senator Reed Said Iraq Was Basically a Political Struggle. “This is basically a political struggle. It’s a struggle to convince people throughout Iraq that their future lies with this legitimate government and not with their sectarian or tribal arrangements or with terrorists. And they’re still on the fence, many of them.” [Charlie Rose Show, 7/12/07]

In August, Senator Reid Said Iraqis Remain Far from a Political Solution. “While our brave men and women continue to fight Iraq’s civil war, Iraqis remain far from a political solution and have not demonstrated any readiness to stand up and take responsibility for their own country.  And as President Bush continues to cling stubbornly to his flawed strategy, Al Qaeda only grows stronger.” [Sen. Reid Statement, 8/14/07]

In August, Senator Durbin Said Weakness in President’s Strategy Is That the Iraqi Government Has Not Made Progress. “‘It makes me angry to think our troops are coming over here fighting and dying when the Iraqi government has made so little progress. That is the weakness in the president’s strategy,’ Durbin said. ‘I think we have to start removing the troops. We have stretched our troops to the limit.’” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/9/07]

As has the Bush Administration:

President Bush Said National Reconciliation Was Essential to Lasting Security and Stability in Iraq. “The strategy I announced in January is designed to seize the initiative and create those conditions. It’s aimed at helping the Iraqis strengthen their government so that it can function even amid violence. It seeks to open space for Iraq’s political leaders to advance the difficult process of national reconciliation, which is essential to lasting security and stability.” [President Bush Press Conference, 7/12/07]

Secretary Gates Said Conflict in Iraq Will Not Be Solved Militarily and it Must Involve Political Reconciliation. “[W]hat we’re all trying to figure out is how best do you get the Iraqis to reconcile their differences, because after all, this is not going to be solved by the military. It has to involve political reconciliation in Iraq among Iraqis. We’re basically buying them time. That’s the whole purpose of this strategy. And they’re going to have to step up to the plate, and we can help them by giving them the time to do that and to make their military forces able to carry the burden by themselves. [CBS Face the Nation, 3/18/07]

Secretary Rice Said There Will Have to Be a Political Solution to Ensure Population Security in Iraq. “And there is going to have to be a political solution that helps to push that [population security] forward. But some of it is also just the training of security forces that are capable of doing those jobs.” [Charlie Rose Show, 5/7/07]

As have Republicans in Congress:

Senator Warner Said a Military Solution Alone Will Not Work, Iraq Must Have a Political Solution. “We cannot ask our forces, nor the Iraqi forces, to risk life and limb during their missions, unless the Iraqi legislature and the government of Iraq begins to give an equal or greater measure of commitment to perform their responsibility to achieve political solutions. A military solution, we all acknowledge, will not alone achieve a strong, survivable, sovereign Iraq. A political solution and a framework of legal reconciliation is essential.” [Sen. Warner Floor Statement, 4/26/07]

Senator Lugar Said Security Gains Will Have Little Benefit If They Are Not Translated Into Political Accommodation. “In this context, the military outcome of President Bush’s surge policy appears to have little relevance to the end result in Iraq. The surge has achieved some security gains, and it may achieve more. But the theory behind the surge was to create a short-term reduction in violence that would give Iraqi leaders the breathing space to make compromises. Our sacrifice will have minimal benefit if hard won security gains cannot be translated into political accommodation among Iraqis in a reasonable time period. Those who are arguing for the surge to continue must do more than voice support for the troops or an ill-defined concept of victory. They must do more than announce faith in our commanders or cite instances of progress on the ground. They must explain how and why Iraqis who have demonstrated for the last six months that they are committed to sectarian and tribal agendas will give up their goals and embrace political pluralism and accommodation on a rapid timetable.” [Sen. Lugar Speech, 7/12/07]

Senator McCain Said a Military Solution Alone Would Not Be Enough in Iraq and that there Must Be a Political Agreement Among Iraqis. “We all agree a military solution alone will not solve the problems of Iraq. There must be a political agreement among Iraqis that allows all groups to participate in the building of their nation, to share in its resources and to live in peace with each other.” [Senator McCain Speech, 4/11/07]

Senator Graham Said Military Developments Would Not Matter Without a Major Political Breakthrough in Baghdad. “If by the end of the year, Judy, we do not have some major political breakthrough by Iraqi politicians in Baghdad, I don’t think it matters much what happens militarily.” [PBS Newshour, 7/17/07]

Senator McConnell Said the Key to General Petraeus’ Strategy Was to Provide Security In Order to Forge a Political Solution. “Some have said that only a political solution will end the violence in Iraq. But we can’t pretend the Iraqis will forge a political solution unless they’re secure in their homes and on their streets. That’s the key to the Petraeus strategy, and to our efforts in Iraq.” [National Review, McConnell Op-Ed, 3/28/07]

Senator Hagel Said there Was No Political Solution in Iraq – U.S. Should Focus on Political Accomodation. “What troubles me most is the fact that we are not focused on the real issue here.  We have been captive to a violent—continuous cycle of uncontrollable violence produced by a sectarian war, a civil war.  As General Petraeus has said, he’s said it in a number of settings, committee hearings, others, there will be no military solution in Iraq.  Well, of course there will not be.  Our focus should be on a political accommodation.” [Meet the Press, 7/8/07]

Eight Republican House Members Called on Bush to Host Leaders of Iraq’s Factions at Camp David to Negotiate a Political Solution in Iraq.  “Eight moderate Republicans who warned President Bush he could lose their support for the Iraq war are turning up the heat on the White House to find a political solution. In a letter sent to Bush on Friday, the group asked the president to convene a meeting at Camp David of the warring factions in Iraq… The group asked Bush to invite leaders of Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities and the Shiite majority to negotiate three key power-sharing agreements that have stalled in the Iraqi parliament… Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y., one of the eight to sign the letter, was more blunt… Other signers were Reps. Charles Dent, Jim Gerlach and Philip English of Pennsylvania; Reps. Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert of Illinois; Christopher Shays of Connecticut; and Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri.” [Newhouse News Service, 8/3/07]

As have military leaders:

General David Petraeus Said There Is No Military Solution in Iraq, There Must Be a Political Solution. “And I think, again, that any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq. Military action is necessary to help improve security, for all the reasons that I stated in my remarks, but it is not sufficient. A political resolution of various differences, of this legislation, of various senses that people do not have a stake in the success of the new Iraq, and so forth, that is crucial.  That is what will determine in the long run the success of this effort.” [Multi-National Force – Iraq, Press Briefing, 3/8/07

General Pace Said Success Must Include a Changed Political Atmosphere. “[T]he military strategy, coupled with the changed political atmosphere, coupled with economic development can be successful. It will not be successful by itself as a military strategy, nor will the other two parts be successful without the military strategy. It’s a three-pronged plus-up. All must move forward together.” [Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 1/12/07]

Admiral Fallon, Commander of U.S. Central Command, Said There Must Be a Political Solution in Iraq. “[I]t’s very clear that success in Iraq is going to be greatly dependent and, I believe, not possible, without the firm commitment and demonstration by the political leadership in that country that they are acting in the interests of the entire population.” [Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 5/3/07]

General Lute, President’s War Czar, Said Ultimate Goal in Iraq Is a Political Solution. “Ultimately, he [General Lute] said, Iraqis need to forge a political solution. ‘Our purpose is not fundamentally to draw down U.S. forces, but rather to produce a durable, reasonable solution in Iraq,’ Lute said. ‘And that absolutely hinges on the ability of the Shia, apparently the simple majority Shia, to produce a compromise solution that is inclusive of the other two major parties, the Sunni and the Kurds.’” [Washington Post, 5/16/07]

Admiral Mullen Said There Must Be a Political Solution in Iraq. Asked if he thought violence in Iraq could be ended without a political solution, Admiral Mullen responded, “Clearly, Chairman, the — and I in my statement try to be very — very focused on this, that security is absolutely necessary, it’s not sufficient, and that it is to provide the opportunity for the political — the center of gravity, really, I think, in Iraq, which is the political movement on the part of that government, and that needs to happen. And clearly, the space is being created, and the political environment in Iraq and that government needs to move forward.” [Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 7/31/07]

Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli Said the Proper Political Pieces Must Be in Place for Military Initiatives to Take Hold.“The proper political pieces must be in place in order for any of the military, economic or social initiatives to take hold and to flourish.  We need to get out of thinking this is solely a military conflict where we must simply apply more U.S. or coalition and Iraqi forces against an enemy that we can destroy.  All our nation’s strengths — diplomatic, economic, political — must be leveraged to help the Iraqis find their way through this process.” [DoD briefing, 12/8/06]   

Retired General Joseph P. Hoar Said Goal in Iraq Should Be a Paradigm Shift to Enable Political Changes to Occur. “I returned from the Middle East two days ago. I’ve also had the opportunity before the holidays to speak with several senior active duty members of our armed forces. In virtually every case, knowledgeable people; military, political and academic, state that the solution to solving this civil war in Iraq is political, not military. There is an acknowledgement in Washington that it is, after all, political. Having said that, the proposed solution is: send more troops, and it won’t work… Victory in the conventional sense is no longer possible. Our goal today in Iraq should be to achieve a paradigm shift that will enable political changes sufficient to give the people of Iraq an assured degree of stability and justice.” [General Hoar Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1/18/07]

Retired General Keane Said Military Operation in Iraq Is Intended Only to Seek a Political Solution. “We have an opportunity to strengthen his [Maliki’s] hand here. And remember, this military operation, its only intended purpose is to seek a political solution. I mean, that’s what this is all about.” [Senate Foreign Relations Hearing, 1/18/07]