It has been over four years since President Bush deployed troops to Iraq. Despite failing to meet his own benchmarks of progress, despite new reports of the unsustainable cost of this war, despite the tremendous dissatisfaction and disenchantment of the American people and members of his own party - the President has been unwilling to change the course and try a new strategy.
It is clear that American troops have accomplished their military mission. Yet we have now tasked them with forging political compromise as well, leaving them in the middle of a burgeoning civil war in Iraq. It is widely recognized that the sectarian strife taking place in Iraq right now cannot be solved through military means alone, and the President's refusal to entertain any new strategies has put our troops in an untenable position. I cannot continue in good conscience to ask our brave troops to risk their lives because I don't believe their sacrifice is being met with an equal commitment from the Iraqi people. The tough but necessary political compromises are not being made.
While the Iraqis are moving toward a transparent and effective government, what is missing is the necessary political accommodation to move the country towards reconciliation. Unfortunately, Iraqis by themselves appear incapable of achieving political progress. Instead, years later, they continue to lean on the United States and our military for stability, teetering on the brink of full-blown civil war without the will to make the political compromises necessary to peace.
Be assured that I am the last person that wants to take irresponsible actions that would take the country into complete chaos. But American military power is not the solution to the war. More troops, more time, more money--these are not the answers. Congress needs to understand, as the American people do, that we must begin planning for a responsible withdrawal and redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq. That is why I was proud to support H.R. 2956, the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act. H.R. 2956 provides for a safe and orderly reduction of troops in Iraq and a transition to a limited presence of American troops in country for force protection, training of Iraqi Security Forces, and counterterrorism missions.
We must send a clear message to the Iraqi government that the patience of the American people is not endless, and that they must take control of their future. H.R. 2956 sends that message.
It has been clear for some time that we need a new direction in Iraq and a comprehensive strategy on how to positively engage the Muslim world before it is radicalized for future generations. I remain hopeful, as do all Americans, that the security situation in Iraq improves, and that American service members can return home as soon as possible.