Senate Democrats Go After Bush, McCain For Failure Against al Qaeda
Charging Bush with losing focus on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and turning "… instead to an ill-conceived war in Iraq," Reid hammered Bush on the need to bring troops home from the Republican's war-for-nothing and focus back on Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan is a far larger country than Iraq, with a much larger population, and far rougher terrain. Yet today, we have 34,000 American forces in Afghanistan and 146,000 in Iraq. Afghanistan is much poorer than Iraq – one of the poorest countries in the world – yet we have spent $170 billion in Afghanistan, and nearly $650 billion in Iraq. Afghanistan is the home of Al Qaeda, the home of the Taliban, and the central front of the War on Terror. Yet there are more than three times as many troops in Iraq and we have spent nearly four times as much money there.Reid also made it clear that John McCain is the same as Bush and that Americans should expect no change whatsoever if they vote for the Republican presidential candidate in November.
“The result of this Republican failure is clear: after a drop in violence early in the Afghanistan war, the Taliban came back with a vengeance in mid-2006. By that time, we didn’t have enough troops on the ground to respond. The troops we needed were 1,500 miles away, in Iraq.
"This isn’t just Harry Reid up here giving an anti-Bush speech. The commander of American forces in the region, the number one man, Admiral William Fallon, put it this way in January of this year: ‘Back in 2001, early 2002, the Taliban were pretty much vanquished. But my sense looking back is that we moved focus to Iraq, which was the priority from 2003 on, and the attention and the resources focused on a different place.’"
"Yesterday, President Bush had one last chance to meaningfully change his strategy and begin to reverse all these backsliding trends. He chose not to," said Reid. "He chose to stick with the status quo and not make significant changes. And unfortunately, we have seen no reason to believe that a John McCain presidency would offer any break from the failed Bush foreign policy."
And here's the video from the Senate floor if you would like to see the whole thing:
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) also took to the Senate floor yesterday to make clear that he too believes the Bush administration -- and by extension, John McCain -- have no idea what the "war on terror" even means.
"2001 August 'bin Laden determined to strike U.S.' That's what we knew. That's what we were told in the Intelligence briefings. 2007, 'al Qaeda better positioned to strike the West.' One would have hoped with the hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars that we have spent in defense of this country and in defense of this country's national security interests that one of the major priorities would have been to bring to justice those who plotted the attack of 9/11 2001. Regrettably that has not been the case."
He then expressed his disgust with the total amount of money the U.S. has spent in Iraq for no return and was especially indignant about the volume of money spent to train Iraqi security forces, only to have them no closer to defending their own country than they were five years ago.
"We've spent 20 billion dollars training Iraqi people as soldiers and as police men and women, security officers… We've trained a half a million people in the country of Iraq, we've spent 20 billion dollars doing it, we've spent two-thirds of a trillion dollars in that war," said Dorgan. "And yet we are told we must remain in Iraq because the Iraqi people are not capable of providing for their own security -- and we've trained a half a million of them."
Here's the Dorgan video:
John McCain will backtrack even more over the next few weeks and say he too believes we need to shift our focus toward Afghanistan and al Qaeda in the near future… Let's just hope the Obama-Biden team is able to remind Americans that Barack Obama has been saying that for years.