Thursday, December 07, 2006

Senate Democrats on Iraq Study Group Report

Here's some reaction from leading Senate Democrats on the findings of the Iraq Study Group released yesterday. Note especially that Senators Feingold and Boxer believe that to some extent the Baker-Hamilton panel missed the real point underlying our current non-strategy in Iraq:

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

“Each day the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Nominee Robert Gates said ‘we’re not winning.’ Today, the Iraq Study Group said Iraq is ‘grave and deteriorating.’ Like the Iraq Study Group, I urge the President to change course."

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

"Unfortunately, the Iraq Study Group report does too little to change the flawed mind-set that led to the misguided war in Iraq. Maybe there are still people in Washington who need a study group to tell them that the policy in Iraq isn't working, but the American people are way ahead of this report.

"While the report has regenerated a few good ideas, it doesn't adequately put Iraq in the context of a broader national security strategy. We need an Iraq policy that is guided by our top national security priority – defeating the terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11 and its allies. We can't continue to just look at Iraq in isolation. Unless we set a serious timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq, we will be unable to effectively address these global threats. In the end, this report is a regrettable example of 'official Washington' missing the point."

Herb Kohl (D-WI)

"I'm pleased that the Baker report has come to the same conclusions that many of us in the Senate reached last year -- we must begin a phased redeployment of troops as a way to both encourage the Iraqis to take more responsibility for their own security and also to reduce the extent to which a large U.S. footprint is fueling the insurgency."

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

"Finally some candor has broken through the fog with the Iraq Study Group's report. We hope this advice will convince the President to change course. The actions necessary to begin bringing our troops home, to take our brave men and women out of harms way, and to reduce the huge financial burden should commence as quickly as possible."

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

"This report is another strong signal that consensus has emerged in this country, across the political spectrum, that ‘stay the course’ proved its failure as a strategy in Iraq long ago… In the meantime, while the President’s strategy seems to be little more than repeating the word ‘victory,’ our troops are stuck in the middle of a civil war and thousands of Iraqi civilians live under the specter of suicide bombings and ethnic cleansing.

"I suspect no one will be satisfied with every aspect of these recommendations, and I worry most of all that the President may simply be unwilling to accept the reality of a very dire situation and take the necessary steps to bring our troops home."

Carl Levin (D-MI)

"The Iraq Study Group report represents another blow at the policy of 'stay the course' that this administration has followed. Hopefully, this will be the end of that stay-the-course policy.

"The elections in November were the first major blow at that policy. The American people rose up against staying the course in Iraq, because the course is not working. The testimony of Dr. Gates, the next Secretary of Defense, yesterday represented another significant blow to that stay-the-course policy. Clearly, Dr. Gates does not believe we should stay the course. He agrees that only a political settlement by the Iraqis can end the violence in Iraq, and that the military force that we have there cannot do that for the Iraqis."

Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

“It is critical to note how far the discussion on the Iraq War has shifted in such a short period of time. It was only several months ago that those of us who called for a gradual redeployment of U.S. troops were criticized for not fully understanding the global challenges Americans face in the War on Terror. Yet today we hear from a bipartisan commission of distinguished Americans that, barring drastic unforeseen circumstances, American troops can indeed be out of Iraq by the first quarter of 2008 – a goal not too far from the one I’ve advocated for several months."

Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

"The verdict is in. There can no longer be any doubt that the violence and chaos in Iraq are getting worse, that our current strategy is failing, and that we need to work together on a new strategy that will make it possible for us to bring our troops home. The only question is whether the White House will heed this clarion call and agree to change the perilous course we have been on in Iraq since Saddam Hussein fell and the chaos began.

"More of the same failed policy that depends on an open-ended commitment of our military will not bring America closer to success. It will not stop the violence. It will only continue to undermine our own national security interests."

Evan Bayh (D-IN)

"The Administration's continued insistence to stay the course has produced few results in the past three years and is weakening our overall national security. We need to try a different approach, one that puts pressure on the Iraqi people to make the tough decisions that only they can make if they are to succeed."

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

“Today’s long-awaited report by the Iraq Study Group tells the truth about the current situation in Iraq– that the situation is grave and deteriorating– which is all the more reason that I hope the President takes this report to heart. Like last month's midterm election, the report is a clear repudiation of the President's 'stay the course' policy.

“However, I am disappointed that the report failed to endorse a clear timetable and end date for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq and rejected the idea of creating semi-autonomous regions in Iraq. Above all, I hope that this report will remind the President that the American people are demanding change in our policy in Iraq.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

"The American people have spoken. The Iraq Study Group has spoken. Experts across the political spectrum have spoken. Even the President’s nominee for Defense Secretary has spoken. Now it’s time for the President to listen and change the course in Iraq.”

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

"In all of the last three and a half years, this is the first time that I have seen the opportunity for a new path to be paved in Iraq . It is such an opportunity, and I truly hope that the President seizes this opportunity.”

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

“The report essentially says the Bush Administration’s current policies in Iraq and the Middle East are not working. It also makes clear that no matter what steps we take to extricate ourselves from this situation, it will continue to be at a great cost to our country – both in lives and resources."

Tom Harkin (D-IA)

"It is my sincere hope that this is the end of failed stay-the-course rhetoric and the beginning of a real solution to bringing our troops home. The findings are an indictment of the President’s failed policies in the Middle East. The report clearly acknowledges that the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. The report rightfully calls for a new and enhanced diplomatic effort in the region to include dialogue with Iran and Syria, additional focus on Afghanistan, and a renewed and sustained commitment by the U.S. to a comprehensive approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“The President owes it to the brave members of the military to find a way out of the mess he’s made. Our troops have preformed brilliantly and accomplished their task. Our troops achieved their goals despite a series of disastrous decisions by their civilian leaders here in Washington. But there is little left our military can do. It is time to bring the troops home and concentrate on finding a political solution to the crisis in Iraq.”