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Larsen Calls for Partial Withdrawal from Iraq

Location: Washington, DC

Larsen Calls for Partial Withdrawal from Iraq

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) today released the following statement on the current situation in Iraq:

"As recently as two months ago, I stated that the United States should remain in Iraq until our military had completed the training of Iraqi military forces. I no longer believe this approach will best help the United States take actions to keep us safe. As a result, I recently called for the unconditional partial withdrawal of U.S. military from Iraq. No longer should this partial withdrawal be conditioned upon the completion of Iraqi military training."

"This decision is difficult for me, but as a member of the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, I have to consider how this administration's actions impact national security. The president's announcement to add 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq is a step in the wrong direction. The American public does not want an escalation of the Iraq war, especially without an explanation of what we are trying to achieve. The president promised a new approach. More troops does not equal a new way forward."

"I have concluded that the United States has a choice: we can keep a lid on Iraq's civil war or we can devote enough time and attention to fighting terrorists wherever they are and save Afghanistan from slipping back to the bad days of Taliban rule. I choose the latter."

"In Iraq, we need to provide our military a strategy that is worthy of their individual actions and sacrifice. I propose the following:

1. The U.S. should complete training and equipping Iraqi military forces to fight a counterinsurgency campaign against the Iraqi-based insurgency.

2. The U.S. should embed available trainers and special operations personnel with Iraqi military forces to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

3. The U.S. should provide personnel to secure Iraq's borders to cut the flow of foreign fighters and weapons into Iraq.

4. The U.S. should immediately withdraw troops from Iraq not necessary for these missions for redeployment to other areas of need or send them home.

5. The U.S. should invest in a diplomatic surge in the Middle East engaging all countries, including Syria and Iran, and convene an international peace conference to end the civil war in Iraq.

6. The U.S. should loosen its visa policies for Iraqis seeking to come to the U.S."

"I have lost confidence in the Iraqi government to fulfill its commitments to the United States. I want the Bush administration to understand the frustration expressed in the last election. I want our women and men in the military to know we have a strategy that is worthy of their individual actions and sacrifice and that they will have the resources necessary to do their jobs. Most of all, I fear that the president's decisions have led us away from our greatest national security threat--fighting terrorists who will do us harm."

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