April 24, 2007

Profiles In Courage

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What a difference a few months makes:

Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader
December, 2006

Sen. Reid (D-NV) on the Iraq Study Group report ...
“The Iraq Study Group has done a tremendous and historic service to the American people and to the troops serving in harm’s way in Iraq. Their report underscores the message the American people sent one month ago: there must be change in Iraq, and there is no time to lose. It is time for the Iraqis to build and secure their nation, and it is time for American combat troops to be redeployed. “Each day the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Nominee Robert Gates said ‘we’re not winning.’ Today, the Iraq Study Group said Iraq is ‘grave and deteriorating.’ Like the Iraq Study Group, I urge the President to change course. He will find Congress ready and willing to work with him. The Senate will do its part next year and conduct strong oversight to ensure the President carries out an effective change in policy. Our troops in Iraq, including hundreds of Nevadans, have sacrificed so much. It is time for President Bush to reward their effort by bringing the country together around a new way forward.”

Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
April, 2006

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he plans to continue an aggressive push for an early withdrawal from Iraq and does not particularly care that Republicans will try to paint that position as a lack of support for U.S. forces. “We are going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war,”

And that Iraq Study Group Report that was such a "tremendous and historic service to the American people and our troops serving in harm's way?

Fuggetaboutit.

The report does not set timetables or deadlines for the removal of troops, as contemplated by the supplemental spending bills the House and Senate passed. In fact, the report specifically opposes that approach. As many military and political leaders told us, an arbitrary deadline would allow the enemy to wait us out and would strengthen the positions of extremists over moderates. A premature American departure from Iraq, we unanimously concluded, would almost certainly produce greater sectarian violence and further deterioration of conditions in Iraq and possibly other countries.

The goal of the United States should be to help Iraqis achieve national political reconciliation and greater effectiveness of their security forces, the report said, so that Iraqis can assume more of the security mission. This in turn could allow for an orderly departure of U.S. troops. An important way to encourage Iraqis to work together is to hold them to the type of benchmarks that Congress, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have all considered. If the Iraqi government does not meet those benchmarks, the United States "should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government," the report said. But we did not suggest that this be codified into legislation. The report doesn't recommend a firm deadline for troop removal unless America's military leadership believes that the situation warrants it.

Nothing has happened since the report was released that would justify changing that view. Setting a deadline for withdrawal regardless of conditions in Iraq makes even less sense today because there is evidence that the temporary surge is reducing the level of violence in Baghdad. As Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq. The Iraq Study Group said it could support a short-term surge to stabilize Baghdad or to speed up training and equipping of Iraqi soldiers if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines such steps would be effective. Gen. David Petraeus has so determined.

The president announced a "new way forward" on Jan. 10 that supports much of the approach called for by the Iraq Study Group. He has since said that he is moving to embrace our recommendations. The president's plan increases the number of American advisers embedded in Iraqi army units, with the goal that the Iraqi government will assume control of security in all provinces by November. It outlines benchmarks and indicates that the Iraqi government must act to attain them. He has approved ministerial-level meetings of all of Iraq's neighbors, including Syria and Iran; the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council; and other countries.

Photo courtesy of Lex

Posted by Cassandra at April 24, 2007 11:07 AM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE