KOHL QUESTIONS RUMSFELD ON DIRECTION OF IRAQ WAR DURING SENATE HEARING
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today urged Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to insist that the Iraqi governing body make the compromises necessary to a achieve a broadly-based political settlement which will allow the U.S. to reduce its forces in the country. Kohl reminded the Secretary that a bipartisan majority of the Senate has agreed that 2006 needs to be a year of transition toward a successful conclusion to U.S. involvement in Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which Kohl serves, today to seek emergency funds for the Iraq War.
"America has paid a high price, in dollars and most importantly in the lives of American soldiers. And now we find ourselves in a position no great country should ever occupy: We don't control the events that determine the success of the war or even the safety of our troops," Kohl told Secretary Rumsfeld.
Last year Kohl supported legislation sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) which called on the President to make 2006 a year of transition between U.S. and Iraqi control. Senator Levin has also suggested that the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds are all counting on the U.S. presence in Iraq to keep the country from falling into civil war. He argues that the U.S. should use that leverage to motivate the Iraqis to make the necessary compromises to achieve the broadly-based political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency -- that the U.S. should tell the Iraqis that if they fail to reach a solution by the time table that they have set forth, that the U.S. will consider a time table for the reduction of our forces. Kohl asked Secretary Rumsfeld to consider that option.
"You will tell me, as you have been telling the American people, that the situation in Iraq is not that dire. But Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, and speaking for a majority of the American people, that is hard to swallow," Kohl said. "From the beginning, the Administration's Iraq strategy has been an amalgamation of misdirection and missteps. The intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that justified our invasion was wrong. You went into the war with no plan beyond the initial few weeks of military action. The estimates of the number of troops needed to accomplish the mission were too low. And now we are in Iraq with public support waning, American casualties mounting, and no apparent timetable or plan for turning Iraq back to the Iraqis and bringing our troops home."