When the Bush Administration first began the Iraq war, they predicted it would last less than six months and cost less than $60 billion dollars. Five years, nearly a trillion dollars, and almost 4,000 precious American lives later -- this misguided and poorly managed war has cost America more than it has to give.
Our men and women in uniform represent the best America has to offer. They have done all that we've asked of them and more, and performed valiantly in difficult and dangerous situations. I believe, however, that we are asking them to solve a political situation that can only be solved by the Iraqis themselves.
That is why I remain committed to a responsible redeployment of our troops from Iraq and will continue to demand accountability from the Iraqi government and our own. It is long past time that the Iraqis take full responsibility for their country and make the tough political compromises vital to achieving peace.
I am concerned, however, that the Bush Administration and many members of Congress fail to recognize that no amount of American lives, money, or time can ever guarantee that Iraqis will achieve the necessary political reconciliation. That is why I believe we must push Iraqi security forces to the forefront with a clear plan and timeline to begin drawing down our troops and redeploying them out of country. The United States cannot continue babysitting that nation forever.
Furthermore, I think it is more important now than ever for our military forces to focus on the real threat to the United States -- al Qaeda's growing strength in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite the Bush Administration's assertions, the majority of the terrorists causing hurt and destruction in Iraq are actually disgruntled Sunni insurgents who seek to regain political power in the country, and are al Qaeda in name only. These groups are very different from those al Qaeda forces who are building power in Afghanistan and Pakistan and pose a much greater threat to this country.
Above all, my thoughts and prayers are with our brave troops and their families -- whether they are serving overseas, here at home, or with us in spirit. They have, and will remain, my primary focus as we fight here in Congress to craft a new direction in Iraq.