Setting the Record Straight: Democrats On An Artificial Timetable In Iraq
Today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Backed The Call For Withdrawal Of Troops. "'I will be supporting the Murtha resolution,' Pelosi said of Murtha's resolution calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq at the earliest practicable date." ("Pelosi Backs Murtha's Call For Withdrawal From Iraq," Reuters, 11/30/05)
Today, Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) Reiterated The Call For An Artificial Timetable. "'We need leadership, and we need a policy on Iraq that includes a flexible timetable for completing our military mission there, so that we can focus on our national security priority - defeating the global terrorist networks that threaten the U.S.' ... In August, Feingold put forward December 31, 2006 to help jumpstart the discussion of a target date to complete the military mission there." (Sen. Russell Feingold, "Statement Of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On The President's Speech Today," Press Release, 11/30/05)
Representative Murtha (D-PA) Has Said There Must Be An "Immediate Redeployment Of U.S. Troops." REP. MURTHA: "My plan calls for immediate redeployment of U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces, to create a quick reaction force in the region, to create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines, and to diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq." (Rep. Murtha, Press Conference, 11/17/05)
But Artificial Timetables Are "A Recipe For Disaster."
The President Explains Why Timetables For Withdrawal Are Bad Strategy. PRES. BUSH: "Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies - that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder - and invite new attacks on America." (President Bush, Remarks On The War On Terror, Annapolis, MD, 11/30/05)
Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT): "And, I Am Convinced, Almost All Of The Progress In Iraq And Throughout The Middle East Will Be Lost If Those Forces Are Withdrawn Faster Than The Iraqi Military Is Capable Of Securing The Country." (Sen. Joe Lieberman, Op-Ed, "Our Troops Must Stay," The Wall Street Journal, 11/29/05)
Army Major General William Webster Says Setting A Deadline For Troop Withdrawal Would Be "A Recipe For Disaster." "A top American commander in Iraq on Wednesday denounced calls by some U.S. senators and others to set a deadline for a troop withdrawal, calling it 'a recipe for disaster' for the 2 1/2 -year-old war." (Ellen Knickmeyer, "General Decries Call For Timetable In Iraq," The Washington Post, 11/17/05)
Lt. General John Vines, Commander Of Multinational Corps Iraq: "Currently, Although Iraqi Security Forces Are Able To Conduct Operations In A Large Portion Of Their Area With Only Limited Or - Coalition Support, They Do Require Our Support At This Time. That Support Will Be Increasingly Less Over A Period Of Time, But A Precipitous Pullout, I Believe, Would Be Destabilizing." (Defense Department, Press Briefing, 11/22/05)
Colonel James Brown: "We Need To Stay Here And Finish The Job That We Began." COL. BROWN: "Well, certainly, as we support the democracy, our forces and coalition forces are going to be the targets of insurgents. But as we incubate all of the national elements of power of this young democracy, it's necessary for us to be here to provide the security, provide the support for the Iraqi security forces to be able to do that. I think it would be - in my opinion, and I think it's supportive of what's being said is - that our job's not finished. And we need to stay here and finish the job that we began. I think the soldiers - my soldiers believe that we've made great strides in supporting the democracy of Iraq, and I think all those soldiers want to see that job finished." (Defense Department, Press Briefing, 11/18/05)
Today, Senator Feingold Said The President's Strategy Reflects "Same Old 'Stay The Course' Way Of Thinking." "In fact the booklet the administration released to accompany the President's speech is described as a '...document [that] articulates the broad strategy the President set forth in 2003...' That alone makes it clear that the President seems more dug in than ever to the same old 'stay the course' way of thinking." (Sen. Russell Feingold, "Statement Of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On The President's Speech Today," Press Release, 11/30/05)
But, The Strategy For Victory Is Adaptive, And As Iraqi Security Forces Stand Up The American Mission In Iraq Will Change.
President Bush Says The "Tactics Are Flexible And Dynamic." PRES. BUSH: "Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, 'stay the course.' If by 'stay the course,' they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by 'stay the course,' they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban - a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America - they are right, as well. If by 'stay the course' they mean that we're not learning from our experiences, or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong. As our top commander in Iraq, General Casey, has said, 'Our commanders on the ground are continuously adapting and adjusting, not only to what the enemy does, but also to try to out-think the enemy and get ahead of him.' Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic; we have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy." (President Bush, Remarks On The War On Terror, Annapolis, MD, 11/30/05)
President Bush Says The Mission Will Change As Iraqi Security Forces And The Political Process Advance. PRES. BUSH: "My commanders tell me that as Iraqi forces become more capable, the mission of our forces in Iraq will continue to change. We will continue to shift from providing security and conducting operations against the enemy nationwide, to conducting more specialized operations targeted at the most dangerous terrorists. We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys. As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists." (President Bush, Remarks On The War On Terror, Annapolis, MD, 11/30/05)
The Administration Is Pursuing A Conditions-Based Strategy. MCCLELLAN: "And I expect he'll talk about as the Iraqi security forces increase their experience and capability and the Iraqis make progress on the political front, then we will be able to reduce the number of our troops in Iraq, as well, but that that will be based on conditions on the ground. It's a conditions-based approach." (The White House, Press Gaggle, 11/29/05)
General Casey: "Condition-Based Reductions Of Coalition Forces Remains An Integral Part Of Our Overall Strategy." GEN. CASEY: "I said that would - condition-based reductions of coalition forces remains an integral part of our overall strategy. And I believe I did say to the senator that that still remains possible in 2006." SEN. MCCAIN: "Are you planning on troop withdrawals for next year?" GEN. CASEY: "I just said that, Senator, yes, I mean -" SEN. MCCAIN: "Yes or no?" GEN. CASEY: "Yes, Senator. I do believe that the possibility for troop - for condition-based reductions of coalition forces still exists in 2006." (Gen. George W. Casey, Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, 9/29/05)