Democratic Leaders’ Letter to Bush on Iraq
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have sent a letter to President Bush--and everyone else--arguing against a "surge" of forces in Iraq.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have sent a letter to President Bush–and everyone else–arguing against a “surge” of forces in Iraq.
Some excerpts and commentary:
The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they don’t believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people
While the polls do seem to show that, it’s hardly the case that the elections “demonstrated” this. Indeed, it’s generally hard to say that midterm elections demonstrate much of anything in the aggregate since they’re a series of one-on-one match-ups. While there was a general “we need change” motif to the campaign, there was hardly a coherent platform. For that matter, not every Democrat who won the election supports the Pelosi-Reid position on the war.
Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.
That our “troops have been pushed to the breaking point” is hardly an established “fact.” As to many of them having served multiple tours, it is, after all, their job to fight their country’s wars.
Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed.
Although I’m willing to be sold, I think a surge at this point is a bad idea. Still, it’s silly to argue that it has “already [been] tried and that has already failed.” In the early days of the war, critics were complaining that Bush and company had sent too few troops. When, exactly, did we try a surge?
Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain.
Uh, isn’t the military already stretched to the breaking point? You just said so, remember?
And the fact that there is no purely military solution–the administration’s view as well–does not mean there isn’t a military component to the solution. It’s far from clear that adding troops will only put troops in danger; it’s conceivable that a well-executed use of force would lower the risk.
And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future.
But making someone else “take responsibility” for cleaning up a mess we helped create is problematic, no?
In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid, our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq: “I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It’s easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.” [ You should probably either have included this passage OR the paragraphs above where you said exactly the same thing. -ed.)]
Yet these commanders have been in charge on the ground without the surge. How is that working out for them?
Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement . . In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.
Kinda like the Iraq Study Group suggestions that pretty much everyone else has dismissed? And isn’t the principal mission of our forces already training, logistics, force protection, and counter-terror?