Senate Democrats

Americans and Iraqis Agree: Time for a Change of Course in Iraq

As the President prepares to address the nation to announce once again that he will continue his failed policy in Iraq, he should listen to the voices of the American people who are calling for a change of course in Iraq, not more of the same. He should also listen to the Iraqi people who overwhelmingly believe the surge has not brought the improvements in security claimed by the Bush Administration. The facts on the ground are clear: despite the valiant efforts of our men and women fighting in Iraq, the Iraqis are no closer to achieving the national reconciliation needed to create a stable country. It is long past time to change the mission in Iraq to focus on counter-terrorism, force protection and training Iraqi security forces so that we can begin to bring American troops home and better ensure our national security.

A majority of Americans oppose the current strategy in Iraq:

Most Americans Support Setting a Timetable to Withdraw U.S. Forces from Iraq. “A record 60% say the United States should set a timetable to withdraw forces ‘and stick to that timetable regardless of what is going on in Iraq.’” [USA Today, 9/9/07]

Just 32% of Americans Believe the Surge Is Making the Situation in Iraq Better. According to a recent USA Today poll, just 32% of Americans believe the surge is making the situation in Iraq better. [USA Today, Poll, 9/9/07]

Nearly Half of Americans Believe the War in Iraq Has Made the U.S. Less Safe. According to a recent USA Today poll, 49% of Americans believe the war in Iraq has made the U.S. less safe. [USA Today, Poll, 9/9/07]

63% Support Withdrawing U.S. Troops from Iraq. “And when asked what they think is the most acceptable outcome to the war in Iraq, 24 percent say that American troops should remain in Iraq until it becomes a stable democracy. Twenty-six percent want them to begin the process of leaving now, and 37 percent want them to leave within the next year — but still keep some of them in the region.” [NBC News, 9/12/07]

And so do most Iraqis:

Poll Found Barely a Quarter of Iraqis Say Security Has Improved During the Surge. “Barely a quarter of Iraqis say their security has improved in the past six months, a negative assessment of the surge in U.S. forces that reflects worsening public attitudes across a range of measures, even as authorities report some progress curtailing violence.” [ABC News, 9/10/07]

Poll Found 6 in 10 Iraqis Say Overall Security Has Worsened Since Surge Began – Just 1 in 10 Said Security Had Improved. “Far more, six in 10, say security in the country overall has worsened since the surge began, while just one in 10 sees improvement.” [ABC News, 9/10/07]

Poll Found 7 in 10 Iraqis Believe the U.S. Troop Buildup Has Made Security Worse in Baghdad and Anbar. “Seven in 10 Iraqis believe the U.S. troop buildup in Baghdad and Anbar province has made security worse in those areas and nearly half want coalition forces to leave immediately, according to a new poll conducted by ABC News, the BBC and the Japanese broadcaster NHK.” [Washington Post, 9/11/07]

Poll Found Nearly 6 in 10 Iraqis Believe Attacks on U.S. Troops are Acceptable. “Nearly six in 10 Iraqis say attacks on coalition forces are ‘acceptable,’ up six percentage points from March, including a 15-point jump among Shiites, 50 percent of whom now call such actions acceptable.” [Washington Post, 9/11/07]

Editotial boards around the country agree that the latest Bush plan is just more of the same:

St. Louis Post Dispatch – War without end – 9/11/07 – So, after six months of debate over the "surge" and "Wait until the Petraeus’ report," the result is: It’s still too early to tell, but success still might be possible. Give us another six to nine months.  LINK

Dallas Morning News – Time to Give Iraq Notice: We Can’t Force Progress on All Fronts – 9/12/07 – We are, at best, buying time. And that’s not good enough. Washington must question the message this sends to Iraq’s leadership. Instead of conveying urgency, we’ve become enablers. By extending the surge unconditionally, we tell Iraqis, "Take your time resolving political issues, we’re not going anywhere." This newspaper favors sending an unequivocal warning to the Iraqi leadership that time is running out, and we are ready to realign this mission to suit our needs. LINK

Philadelphia Inquirer – Since 9/11 – 9/11/07 – American officials should be assessing how to wage an aggressive campaign to win the hearts and minds of the world’s moderate Muslims or how to keep al-Qaeda and its allies from regaining control of Afghanistan. Instead, this anniversary is dominated by a single topic – one that, despite the insistence of some, has no direct relation to the 9/11 attacks: Iraq… Of course they portrayed the situation as being salvageable. But the continuing sectarian violence and lack of a political compromise among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds leave little room for optimism that the U.S. military presence in Iraq can do anything more than postpone the day when America will leave in its wake a failed nation.  LINK

Boston Globe – Iraq: The Unanswered Questions – 9/12/07 – For what? Those two words did not just express the broad doubts of the American public, which appears to have lost confidence in President Bush’s rationale for sticking to the current strategy in Iraq. Hagel’s question also pointed to the central flaw in the case Petraeus and Crocker were trying to make for patience: There is no clear link between Petraeus’s tactical gains in clearing and holding a few Baghdad neighborhoods and any achievable, worthwhile strategic aims… The answer to Hagel’s question is simple and grave. No worthwhile strategic goal can be achieved by continuing indefinitely to expend American blood and treasure in Iraq.  LINK

Orange County Register – Patraeus Offers Nothing New – 9/11/07 — Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect much more, but given the buildup it was a little disappointing. However, it is true that Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had little to talk about. Perhaps it is to their credit that they did not try to inflate the modest progress they see in Iraq into more than it is… The recommendation Gen. Petraeus made, that the number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq be reduced back to 130,000 by next summer, would have had to be done whether or not there was evidence of success. We’ll see whether these desultory presentations firm up support for staying the course or push some wavering Republicans into the early-withdrawal camp.  LINK

Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial – Americans Seek Clarity of Mission – 9/12/07 — As one might expect, the testimony this week of Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker focused on specifics of their fields of expertise, not on an all-encompassing strategy for U.S. achievement of Iraqi independence and unity. They’re involved with the trees, if you will, not the forest… Ultimately, Americans deserve — not just from Petraeus and Crocker, but from President Bush himself — a clear answer to the key question, asked bluntly yesterday by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.: ‘Are we going to continue to invest blood and treasure at the same rate we’re doing now? For what?’”  LINK

 Denver Post – Exit Strategy Left to Next President – 9/12/07 — President Bush is expected to announce Thursday that enough military progress has been made in Iraq to start sending home the 30,000 reinforcements deployed earlier this year as part of his "surge" offensive. But don’t be fooled. The mission is still not accomplished. The top military commander in Iraq told Congress this week what we all feared: There is still no exit strategy for the majority of U.S. troops in Iraq. Nor are there any easy answers, quick solutions or guarantees of success. LINK

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Under Bush’s Appointees, the U.S. Faces a Long Haul – 9/12/07 — Gen. Petraeus furthered Mr. Bush’s "surge" sleight-of-hand in his discussion of troop withdrawal. He said American troops could begin to be withdrawn soon, and that, by next summer, the level should be down to what it was before Mr. Bush launched the surge. He didn’t explain how that constituted U.S. troop withdrawal, although the administration obviously hopes that removing only the additional 30,000 soldiers he sent to Iraq this year will be enough to get the Congress to approve more funds for the war. The testimony of these two senior officers, in Washington from their work on the ground in Iraq, was useful to the Congress and to the American people. But what they said essentially changes nothing. In four and a half years the United States has done all — or more — than it should in Iraq in terms of America’s own interests. It should now systematically withdraw its presence, permitting the Iraqis themselves to determine and provide for their own future. LINK

Newark Star-Ledger – Reaching Our Limit in Iraq – 9/13/07 — It has been a week of political kabuki in Washington tarted up by the Bush administration as yet another great moment in the Iraq saga. How many turning points have there been? From the Iraqi elections to the Iraqi constitution to the Iraq Study Group report to this week’s long-awaited report on progress in Iraq by the general commander there, David Petraeus, they’ve largely been the status quo trumpeted as watershed events. LINK