U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks at the Commerce Lexington Public Policy Luncheon Tuesday on Iraq and the success of our troops:
"As some of you may know, the President tonight is expected to declare the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq. As the Senator from a state that has carried a very heavy burden in this war, I think we can all say this is very welcome news. This is a time to be grateful for the incredible sacrifices the men and women in the armed forces have made, are making, and will continue to make on our behalf in the struggle against terrorism.
"But I think we should also be thankful that another President had the determination and the will to carry out the plan that made tonight's announcement possible. You might recall that the surge wasn't very popular when it was announced. You might also recall that one of its biggest critics was the current President. One of his colleagues said the war was already a lost cause, implying, of course, that any further efforts on the part of our troops would be in vain.
"So it makes it easier to talk about fulfilling a campaign promise to wind down our operations in Iraq when the previous administration signs the security agreement with Iraq to end our overall presence there.
"It sure makes things easier when you reject your own campaign rhetoric about how the surge--the Petraeus plan--shouldn't happen and wouldn't work.
"It makes things easier when you reject the left-wing calls for defunding our troops in the field and instead continue the policies put in place by the previous administration and keep the same Secretary of Defense and until recently Gen. Petraeus to help guide our efforts there.
"By adopting the Bush administration's plan for winding down the war and transitioning security responsibilities to the Iraqi military over time the President has enabled us and the Iraqis to build on the gains our troops have made.
"This bilateral relationship must also be managed realistically, and based on conditions on the ground as we move forward. Much hard work remains in Iraq. And this President could very well find himself negotiating a new security agreement next year.
"But thankfully we can say today that our troops, the Surge, and the Petraeus Plan all succeeded where many in Washington thought they would fail."