Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Obama: Floor statement on proposed Iraq cap legislation"

Chicago Sun-Times:
I PLAN TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION THAT I BELIEVE WILL STOP THE ESCALATION OF THIS WAR BY PLACING A CAP ON THE NUMBER OF SOLDIERS IN IRAQ. I WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT I'M NOT UNIQUE IN TAKING THIS APPROACH. I KNOW THAT SENATOR DODD HAS CRAFTED SIMILAR LEGISLATION. SENATOR CLINTON, I BELIEVE, YESTERDAY INDICATED SHE SHARED SIMILAR VIEWS.
THE CAP WOULD NOT AFFECT THE MONEYS SPENT ON THE WAR OR ON OUR TROOPS, BUT IT WOULD WRITE INTO LAW THAT THE NUMBER OF U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ SHOULD NOT EXCEED THE NUMBER THAT WERE THERE ON JANUARY 10, 2007, THE DAY THE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCED HIS ESCALATION POLICY. NOW, THIS MEASURE WOULD STOP THE ESCALATION OF THE WAR IN IRAQ BUT IT'S MY BELIEF THAT SIMPLY OPPOSING THE SURGE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. IF WE TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE ONLY SOLUTION IN IRAQ IS A POLITICAL ONE, AND I FERVENTLY BELIEVE THAT, IF WE BELIEVE THAT A PHASED REDEPLOYMENT OF U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ IS THE BEST, PERHAPS ONLY, LEVERAGE WE HAVE TO FORCE A SETTLEMENT BETWEEN THE COUNTRIES' WARRING FACTIONS, THEN WE SHOULD ACT ON IT. THAT'S WHY THE SECOND PART OF MY LEGISLATION IS A PLAN FOR PHASED REDEPLOYMENT THAT I CALLED FOR IN A SPEECH IN CHICAGO TWO MONTHS AGO. IT'S A RESPONSIBLE PLAN. IT PROTECTS AMERICAN TROOPS WITHOUT CAUSING IRAQ TO SUDDENLY DISSEND INTO CHAOS. THE PRESIDENT MUST ANNOUNCE TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE THAT WITHIN TWO TO FOUR MONTHS UNDER THIS PLAN U.S. POLICY WILL INCLUDE A GRADUAL AND SUBSTANTIAL REDUCTION IN U.S. FORCES. THE PRESIDENT SHOULD THEN WORK WITH OUR MILITARY COMMANDERS TO MAP OUT THE BEST PLAN FOR SUCH A REDEPLOYMENT AND TO DETERMINE PRECISE LEVELS AND DATES. DRAWING DOWN OUR TROOPS IN IRAQ WILL PUT PRESSURE ON THE IRAQIS TO ARRIVE AT A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT THAT IS NEEDED AND ALLOW US TO REDEPLOY ADDITIONAL TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN AND ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION AS WELL AS BRING SOME BACK HOME. THE FORCES REDEPLOYED ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION COULD THEN HELP TO PREVENT THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ FROM BECOMING A WIDER WAR, SOMETHING THAT EVERY INTERNATIONAL OBSERVER IS BEGINNING TO WORRY ABOUT. IT WILL ALSO REASSURE OUR ALLIES IN THE GULF, IT'LL ALLOW OUR TROOPS TO STRIKE DIRECTLY AT AL QAEDA, WHEREVER IT MAY EXIST, AND DEMONSTRATE TO INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS THAT THEY HAVEN'T DRIVEN US FROM THE REGION. MY PLAN WOULD COUPLE THIS PHASED REDEPLOYMENT IN AN ENHANCED EFFORT TO TRAIN IRAQI SECURITY FORCES AND WOULD EXPAND THE NUMBER OF OUR PERSONNEL -- ESPECIALLY SPECIAL FORCES WHO ARE DEPLOYED WITH IRAQIS AS UNIT ADVISORS AND FINALLY WOULD CONTINUE ECONOMIC AID WITH IRAQ WITH THE TANGIBLE SOLUTION TO REACH A SETTLEMENT. ONE FINAL ASPECT OF THIS PLAN THAT I THINK IS CRITICAL: IT WOULD CALL FOR THE ENGAGEMENT BY THE UNITED STATES OF A REGIONAL CONFERENCE WITH OTHER COUNTRIES THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST, PARTICULARLY OUR ALLIES BUT INCLUDING SYRIA AND IRAN TO FIND A SOLUTION TO THE WAR IN IRAQ. WE HAVE TO REALIZE THAT NEITHER IRAN NOR SYRIA WANT TO SEE THE SECURITY VACUUM IN IRAQ FILLED WITH CHAOS, TERRORISM, REFUGEES, AND VIOLENCE AS IT COULD BRING A DESTABLIZING EFFECT THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE REGION AND WITHIN THEIR OWN COUNTRIES.

AND SO, AS ODIOUS AS THE BEHAVIOR OF THOSE REGIMES MAY BE AT TIMES, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE INCLUDE THEM IN A BROADER CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW WE CAN STABLIZE IRAQ. MR. PRESIDENT, IN CLOSING, LET ME SAY THIS. I HAVE BEEN A CONSISTENT AND STRONG OPPONENT OF THIS WAR. I'VE ALSO TRIED TO ACT RESPONSIBLY IN THAT OPPOSITION TO ENSURE THAT HAVING MADE THE DECISION TO GO INTO IRAQ, THAT WE PROVIDED OUR TROOPS, WHO PERFORMED VALIANTLY, THE SUPPORT THEY NEED TO COMPLETE THEIR MISSION. I HAVE ALSO STATED PUBLICLY THAT I THINK WE HAVE BOTH STRATEGIC INTERESTS AND HUMANITARIAN RESPONSIBILITIES IN ENSURING THAT IRAQ IS AS STABLE AS POSSIBLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. AND FINALLY, I'VE SAID THAT PUBLICLY IT IS MY PREFERENCE NOT TO MICROMANAGE THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF IN THE PROSECUTION OF WAR. THAT ULTIMATELY I DO NOT THINK IS THE IDEAL ROLE FOR CONGRESS TO PLAY. BUT AT A CERTAIN POINT, MR. PRESIDENT, WE HAVE TO DRAW A LINE. AT A CERTAIN POINT, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE TO HAVE SOME CONFIDENCE THAT WE ARE NOT SIMPLY GOING DOWN THIS BLIND ALLEY IN PERPETUITY. WHEN IT COMES TO THE WAR IN IR IRAQ, THE TIME FOR PROMISES AND ASSURANCES ARE WANING AND PATIENCE IS OVER. TOO MANY LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST, TOO MANY BILLIONS HAVE BEEN SPENT FOR US TO TRUST THE PRESIDENT ON ANOTHER TRIED AND FAILED POLICY OPPOSED BY GENERALS AND EXPERTS, OPPOSED BY DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS, OPPOSED BY AMERICANS AND EVEN THE IRAQIS THEMSELVES. IT'S TIME TO CHANGE OUR POLICY, MR. PRESIDENT. IT'S TIME TO GIVE IRAQIS THEIR COUNTRY BACK, AND IT'S TIME TO REFOCUS AMERICA'S EFFORT ON THE WIDER STRUGGLE AGAINST TERROR YET TO BE WON. MR. PRESIDENT, I THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. AND I WOULD SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

1 comment:

Minor Ripper said...

Not sure if everyone has seen these videos of the US military in Iraq or not, but they are pretty amazing: Hopefully our 'surge' will not include too many of these types...
http://minor-ripper.blogspot.com/2006/12/winning-hearts-and-minds-part-three.html