Friday, November 11, 2005

John Kerry Responds to Senator McCain’s Mischaracterization of His Iraq Plan

A short time ago, John Kerry offered a plan for success in Iraq on the Senate Floor. In his Floor Speech, Kerry responded to Senator McCain's mischaracterization of the Kerry Iraq plan earlier today. In his speech today, Senator McCain failed to recognize concerns previously raised by senior U.S. military commanders and officials as outlined in Kerry's speech at Georgetown in late October. Kerry's plan is the most comprehensive plan offered to date, on a withdrawal from Iraq. Support for the Kerry plan was noted here, following his speech at Georgetown.

Senator Kerry’s Iraq plan (as offered on the Senate floor today) lays out a comprehensive new strategy to complete the mission in Iraq and bring our troops home. Its goal is to undermine the insurgency by simultaneously pursing both a political settlement and the draw down of American forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks - beginning with the draw down of 20,000 troops after successful Iraqi elections in December. If followed, the process will be completed in 12-15 months.

"The path forward in Iraq must defeat the insurgency and keep faith with our troops, rather than be driven by the politics of the Republican base or rigid adherence to President Bush’s aimless course. The plan I have offered would correct our course. The speech Sen. McCain delivered does not," Kerry said today.

"I disagree with my friend Sen. McCain’s mischaracterization of my plan to succeed in Iraq and bring our troops home within a reasonable timeframe. The way forward in Iraq is not to pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay ‘as long as it takes.’ To undermine the insurgency, we need to pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks - beginning with the completion of successful December elections. These additional troops are in Iraq only for the purpose of providing security for the upcoming elections. If they remain in Iraq after that benchmark is achieved, it only exacerbates the sense of American occupation," said Kerry.

"While some say we can’t ask tough questions because we are at war, I believe that during wartime we must ask the hardest questions of all. It’s essential if we want to correct our course and do what’s right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. No matter what anyone says, providing a better course isn’t a road to disaster, it’s patriotism," Kerry added.

Senior American commanders and officials have said the large U.S. military presence in Iraq feeds the insurgency. General George Casey, the top American military commander in Iraq, recently told Congress that our large military presence "feeds the notion of occupation" and "extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant." Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, breaking a thirty year silence, recently wrote, ‘‘Our presence is what feeds the insurgency, and our gradual withdrawal would feed the confidence and the ability of average Iraqis to stand up to the insurgency."

Kerry referenced those expert opinions in a major address at Georgetown two weeks ago, saying "the insurgency will not be defeated unless our troop levels are drawn down, starting immediately after successful elections in December. The draw down of troops should be tied not to an arbitrary timetable, but to a specific timetable for transfer of political and security responsibility to Iraqis and realignment of our troop deployment."

With his attack on the Kerry plan, Senator McCain followed Bush's lead today on the Senate floor with his "Stay the Course" rhetoric. This "Stay the Course" rhetoric as perpetuated by Bush, over and over again, and today by Senator McCain, is as pointed out by John Kerry today and 2 weeks ago (in his Georgetown speech) is completely out of touch with reality. McCain is clearly pandering to the Republican base, in attempt to posture himself for the '08 Republican nomination.

The time has come to make a stand on Iraq. America now knows the truth, we were falsely led into this war by lies and distorted evidence of WMD's (see Newsweek's latest on this). John Kerry once again spoke Truth to Power today, in offering his plan for withdrawal from Iraq. Across the board, Republicans fear the truth that Kerry speaks. It's time for all Democrats to stand up and rally behind Kerry's plan.


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