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Pallone Urges President Bush to Get International Organizations Involved in Iraq

Location: Washington, DC

September 20, 2005

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today voiced disappointment that President Bush did not discuss the need to internationalize the war in Iraq when he spoke before the United Nations General Assembly last week.

The New Jersey congressman, who has introduced a proposal to turn over the secured provinces of Iraq to either the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the United Nations, believes the president missed an opportunity to get international organizations more involved in the effort to rebuild secure areas of Iraq.

In a letter sent yesterday to President Bush, Pallone strongly urged the administration to aggressively seek greater international support to complete the mission in Iraq and to bring our troops home as soon as possible.

The New Jersey congressman pointed to assertions made by both the Bush administration and the U.S. Department of Defense that fourteen of the eighteen Iraqi provinces are secure. Pallone is disappointed the Bush administration has not aggressively sought more international help in areas that have been secured.

"I do not believe that the, 'Stay the course' or 'When the Iraq forces stand up, we will stand down' policy is currently working effectively," Pallone wrote in his letter to the president. "This is not a strategy that the American people want or deserve.

"I am writing this letter to urge you to request that [NATO] expand its current training mission and take on a larger roll in maintaining security in provinces that are relatively calm," Pallone continued. "NATO is well experienced in training and policing and is well equipped to handle this mission."

Pallone writes that if the Pentagon truly believes that fourteen of eighteen Iraqi provinces are secure then it is time to begin the reconstruction process in those secure provinces. The New Jersey congressman believes the Bush administration needs to move from a military mission in the secured provinces, to a reconstruction mission with NATO, the UN and international organizations taking a lead roll.

"The benefits of this strategy are two fold. First, handing over control of some already secured areas to NATO would take some pressure off of US forces," Pallone continued in his letter. "By relieving that pressure we will be able to draw down troop levels and focus on troubled areas of Iraq such as Anbar, Nineveh, Salah ad Din and Baghdad. Second, by bringing in international forces and expediting the rebuilding process, we will show the Iraqi people that the United States is not a permanent occupying force."

Pallone opposed giving President Bush the authority to attack Iraq in 2002. He argued then that the president acted without exhausting diplomatic means to rid Iraq of alleged weapons of mass destruction, and that it was necessary to secure international support under the auspices of the U.N. or NATO before going to war. He has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration's lack of accountability over expenditures for both the Iraq War and reconstruction efforts.

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