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Public Statements

Issue Position: Iraq and Afghanistan

Issue Position

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In October 2002, I voted against the resolution granting the President broad authority to invade Iraq, arguing that if the U.S. did not work with the United Nations and the world community, we could endanger our international coalition against terrorism and damage our moral authority. More than four years after our nation initiated military operations in Iraq, America demands a new approach to this open-ended conflict. Our operations in Iraq have endangered the ability of our armed forces to respond to other crises, distracted from efforts to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban, and damaged our international reputation. Our military now finds itself in the middle of a civil war, and it is time to bring our troops home.

In October 2002, I voted against the resolution granting the President broad authority to invade Iraq, arguing that if the U.S. did not work with the United Nations and the world community, we could endanger our international coalition against terrorism and damage our moral authority. More than six years after our nation initiated military operations in Iraq, America has demanded a new approach to this open-ended conflict. Our operations in Iraq have endangered the ability of our armed forces to respond to other crises, distracted from efforts to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban, and damaged our international reputation.

I am pleased that President Obama announced a troop withdrawal plan early in his Administration. It is time for a new set of priorities and course of action for ending the war in Iraq. I am extremely proud of the service and sacrifice of our troops and their families, and have long believed the best way to demonstrate our support is by welcoming them home. While I am concerned that we not keep an unduly large number of troops as part of the 'transition force," I do not want to reverse any of the gains we have achieved and will examine all options that will help maintain stability in Iraq. I look forward to closely following this process and hearing more from the Administration and military experts as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

I also agree with the new administration that our operations in Iraq have endangered the ability of our armed forces to respond to other crises, and most importantly, distracted us from efforts to combat our real enemies in the fight against terrorism. I support President Obama in redirecting our attention and resources to Afghanistan, where the situation is deteriorating, and the Taliban and al Qaeda are gaining strength. It is critical that we build and sustain our international coalitions and alliances, which will not only help our national security efforts, but also help in repairing our international reputation.

In May 2009, I had the opportunity to visit with troops, commanders, diplomats, NGO representatives and others in Iraq and Afghanistan as I led a congressional delegation to observe firsthand the successes and challenges facing us in those two critical war zones. I was pleased to see the situation in Iraq improving, due to the hard work and sacrifice of our troops. Insurgents remain a significant concern, and Iraqi security forces are not where they need to be, but the country is moving towards peace. The challenges in Afghanistan are daunting, and there is an urgent need to improve the security of our troops, the NGO community and Afghan citizens. President Obama has called for an increase in troops, which I strongly support, and I am confident that we can eventually turn things around in Afghanistan and leave behind a stable democracy.

Most importantly, I was extraordinarily impressed with the dedication and professionalism of our troops and commanders. These brave men and women are committed to bringing peace and stability to Iraq and Afghanistan. Meeting with these patriots on the front lines only strengthened my commitment to them and to ensuring their safe return home.


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