Friday, July 13, 2007

John Kerry: New Iraq Policy Can’t Wait Until September

In the wake of the newly released Iraq report, Bush is in a "race against time" in thebattle to preserve his long failing Iraq War policy. On Thursday, the House passsed a measure calling for troop withdrawal by the spring and in the Senate, Senator John Kerry spoke on the urgent need for the U.S. to shift the mission in Iraq to allow a redeployment of troops out of the country within a year. Kerry, who is co-sponsoring the Levin-Reed-Kerry withdrawal amendment, originally called for moving US troops out of Iraq more than a year ago.

Kerry's powerful floor statement as prepared for delivery on the Senate floor is below:

Today the President made a partial report on Iraq. While it is true there has been some tactical military success—no amount of spinning the military component can obscure the bottom line reality in Iraq today: That reality is clear: there has been no meaningful political progress, and in the long run, that is the only progress that counts. Unless and until Iraqis begin to resolve their fundamental political differences, any security gains will be temporary at best. Welcome, but temporary. Moving the goalposts, dressing up the failure to meet strict benchmarks as “progress”—these are rationalizations for failure, not plans for success.

Meanwhile, another report tells us that while we’ve been bogged down and distracted in Iraq, Al Qaeda has found safe haven in Pakistan and rebuilt its organization. Today, top intelligence officials tell us that Al Qaeda is better positioned to strike the West than they’ve been at any time since 9-11. And where’s our focus? On Iraq. Our continued presence in Iraq isn’t just a distraction from the fight against terrorists—it’s also Al Qaeda’s best fundraising and recruiting tool. We don’t have to wait until September to know that we need a new policy.

Two days ago, I heard some colleagues come to the floor and question why we’re having this debate now when the White House is going to report on his escalation in September.

I heard Sen. Sessions say “This is not the time to alter the policy we established about 2 months ago.” I heard Sen. Kyl say “we need to await the report in September before making judgments about what to do next.” I heard Sen. McCain ask, and these are his words, why “do we have to keep taking up the Iraq issue when we know full well that in September there will be a major debate on this issue?”

I have great respect for my colleagues, I particularly know how much my colleague the senior Senator from Arizona cares about American troops serving in Iraq.

But these questions from the other side of the aisle astonish me. Why now? Why this debate now? Why do we have to, as Sen. McCain asked, “keep taking up the Iraq issue?”

The answer is simple—and compelling: Because American soldiers are dying now. Because the escalation is a failure, now – and we know it. Because when a policy isn’t working, you don’t wait for some artificial timeline to fix it. You fix it now.

Read on here: John Kerry: New Iraq Policy Can’t Wait Until September


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