I have worked for a number of years to ensure a safe and timely return from Iraq for our troops. By the end of 2010, nearly all US troops will have left Iraq, and a fledgling, though still struggling, democracy will be in place. Following withdrawal, it is likely that a residual force will be left in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda, and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. Nevertheless, I believe that permanent bases should not be built in the country, and that we should continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces, as long as Iraqi leaders continue to move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.
I support President Obama's call to increase troop strength in Afghanistan in order to stabilize the country and provide security for the Afghan people. The military posture is intended to set the conditions for stable civilian rule, and to prevent Al Qaeda from regaining a foothold in this important area. I also support the President's call for evaluating the troop increase after 18 months, and beginning a stable withdrawal as conditions permit. We cannot allow those who would do us harm to fill a vacuum of ungoverned areas from which to plan, coordinate, and launch attacks against us. However, we must make clear to Afghans that their future is theirs alone.