In January of this year, when President Bush announced his latest plan to escalate our military involvement in the civil war in Iraq, I strongly voiced my opposition. The only true way forward in Iraq is to begin immediately to strategically redeploy our troops out of Iraq. Only then will the Iraqi government have the incentive to do the hard work and make the tough decisions to resolve its differences and stand on its own. I am committed to doing everything I can in the Senate to chart a new, smarter course in Iraq.
For that reason, I am an original cosponsor of S. 1077, the Feingold-Reid legislation that would require the President to begin redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days of enactment. Under the Feingold-Reid bill, all funding for the war would end on March 31, 2008, with limited exceptions. I voted in favor of this proposal when it was offered as an amendment to unrelated legislation earlier this year. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated 29-67.
In addition, I was a strong supporter of language included in the FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, to require the President to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq in July 2007, with a goal of completing redeployment in March of 2008. Unfortunately, that legislation was vetoed by the President, and Congress did not have the votes to override that veto.
In spite of these setbacks, I remain determined to work to establish a timetable to redeploy our troops out of Iraq. President Bush’s “new” strategy has already been tried without success. There have already been three troop surges to fight this misbegotten, misguided, and mismanaged war in Iraq, in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Each time, Iraqi leaders have made the same empty promises of reconciliation and reigning in the militias and the sectarian violence is only getting worse.
President Bush has has long said he would listen to the generals on the ground when it comes to making decisions about troop levels, yet many of our top military leaders have repeatedly said that that bringing in more American troops will not solve the security situation in Iraq. And the bipartisan Iraq Study Group concluded that there cannot be a military solution to the chaos in Iraq.
We have already lost more than 3,500 American lives, including more than 52 Iowans or people with close ties to Iowa, and more than 26,000 individuals have been injured in Iraq. Our service members in Iraq have done what we asked of them. They have assured us that Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction, and they have enabled the Iraqi people to craft a constitution and elect a government. Yet more than 160,000 troops remain on the ground.
We need to redeploy our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible, and refocus our efforts on the many pressing threats facing our nation. The sooner we redeploy our military and strategic assets, the better off we will be.