Ryan Statement on Iraq Withdrawal Bill
First District Congressman Paul Ryan today voted against H.R. 2956, which sets (and broadcasts to the enemy) an arbitrary troop withdrawal timeline - requiring a reduction in U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq starting within 120 days of the bill's enactment, to be completed by April 1, 2008. Ryan made the following statement regarding this flawed approach:
"It's poor strategy to advertise to our enemies the dates we intend to start and finish withdrawing forces from Iraq. There's no question that we all want our troops to return home as soon as possible, but decisions on when and how to do this should be made by our military commanders on the ground in Iraq - not Washington politicians seeking to score political points. On top of this, today's vote gives our enemies hope at a critical point. Just as more local Iraqis and tribal leaders have been turning against al Qaeda in Iraq, the House adopts a retreat schedule that could discourage this sort of progress," Ryan said.
Ryan also noted that the deadly consequences of withdrawing from Iraq before Iraqis are able to defend against radical militias, terrorists, and insurgents deserve serious consideration. An editorial in today's Washington Post makes this important point. An excerpt of the editorial, "Wishful Thinking on Iraq" appears below:
"Advocates of withdrawal would like to believe that Afghanistan is now a central front in the war on terror but that Iraq is not; believing that doesn't make it so. They would like to minimize the chances of disaster following a U.S. withdrawal: of full-blown civil war, conflicts spreading beyond Iraq's borders, or genocide. They would have us believe that someone or something will ride to the rescue: the United Nations, an Islamic peacekeeping force, an invigorated diplomatic process. They like to say that by withdrawing U.S. troops, they will end the war.'
"Conditions in Iraq today are terrible, but they could become way, way worse,' as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, a career Foreign Service officer, recently told the New York Times. If American men and women were dying in July in a clearly futile cause, it would indeed be immoral to wait until September to order their retreat. But given the risks of withdrawal, the calculus cannot be so simple. The generals who have devised a new strategy believe they are making fitful progress in calming Baghdad, training the Iraqi army and encouraging anti-al-Qaeda coalitions. Before Congress begins managing rotation schedules and ordering withdrawals, it should at least give those generals the months they asked for to see whether their strategy can offer some new hope."