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Many Northwest US Lawmakers Skeptical Of Iraq Troop Surge January 11, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.

WASHINGTON (AP)–Northwest lawmakers reacted skeptically to President Bush’s plan to send 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.

Democrats opposed the plan and said it was the opposite of what voters demanded when they threw out the Republican-led Congress in November and gave control to Democrats.

Even some Republicans opposed the plan, while others reacted cautiously, saying events on the ground in Iraq would eventually determine the plan’s success.

Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, a Republican who has criticized the president’s handling of the war, said the troop buildup was unlikely to succeed.

“This is the president’s Hail Mary pass, and he hopes the Iraqi Army is there to catch it,” Smith said Wednesday night, adding that the U.S. mission had “mutated” from liberating Iraq from a dictator to policing a civil war in Baghdad.

“Iraqis need to be their own street cops, not U.S. forces,” Smith said. “We are extending an ineffective tactic to further the status quo. Iraqis must be the ones to settle their own peace.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Bush was offering “more of the same” by sending in still more troops to Iraq.

“Despite the warnings of his top generals, and the message sent by the American people, the president has again decided to go it alone. This is the wrong approach,” Murray said.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he was not convinced that “overstretching” the military would produce success in Iraq.

Bush’s blueprint would boost the number of U.S. troops in Iraq – now at 132,000 – to 153,500 at a cost of $5.6 billion. The highest number was 160,000 a year ago in a troop buildup for Iraqi elections.

“When it comes to ending the violence in Iraq, only the Iraqis can make the tough choices necessary to stop the civil war,” Wyden said. “The Iraqis won’t make these tough choices until they see that U.S. troops won’t hold their hands forever. It’s time to start bringing our men and women in uniform home so that the Iraqis will do what it takes to promote stability and lasting peace.”

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, called the speech a major step forward and said he was pleased that Bush put the onus on the Iraqi government to ensure its own success.

“It is time for them to stand up. It is time for them to stop the civil strife going on in their country. They’ve got to be strong, and if they are we will back them up,” Craig said
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Bush’s speech makes U.S. policy in Iraq dependent on 20,000 new troops to stabilize Baghdad.

“Our strategy must be to significantly change the course by holding Iraqis to sooner timetables on taking security control, passing an oil law and making the other political compromises necessary to ease disagreements among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds,” she said.

Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., called Bush’s nationally televised speech – in which he said he had made a mistake by failing to order a military buildup last year – the president’s “latest attempt to find a magic key to his no-win Iraq war.”

Wu accused Bush of an “arrogant, go-it-alone” approach, which he said has been disastrous for the country and the world.

“I agree with our professional military. It is high time for Iraqis to fight for Iraqis, rather than to have Americans fight for Iraqis,” Wu said.

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said he was skeptical that Iraqis could deliver on promises they had made to the president and other U.S. officials. In addition to extra U.S. forces, Bush’s plan envisions Iraq committing 10,000 to 12,000 more troops to secure Baghdad’s neighborhoods.

“They haven’t delivered on anything yet they said they’d do in terms of heavy lifting,” Dicks said of Iraqi leaders.

Dicks, a senior member of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, called the latest war plan a major test for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “We’ll have to wait and see,” Dicks said.

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said that instead of a troop buildup, “we need a surge of congressional action to stop George Bush’s disastrous policies in Iraq.”

Inslee, who opposed the war from the start and has been an outspoken critic for years, called for a negotiated, political and diplomatic solution in Iraq, “rather than insist on Americans continuing to pour million of dollars and thousand of lives into this political chaos in Iraq.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., announced a bill calling for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq within a year and greater accountability for how federal funds are being spent.

Blumenauer said the bill would re-establish congressional oversight of the war effort – an element Blumenauer said has been sorely lacking under GOP leadership.

“For too long Congress has been a willing enabler of the president’s war,” said Blumenauer. “Now is not the time for the president to repeat his mistakes. This legislation demands accountability and sets a new direction for Iraq.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Wash., offered a tepid endorsement.

“The new strategy outlined tonight is worth our consideration,” she said. “However, if the United States’ role is to make a difference, the Iraqi government must follow through on stated intentions. The Iraqis need to take action to prove their commitment to securing and governing their own country.”

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said he was encouraged by the new plan, adding: “I’m pleased that the Iraqis will have more responsibility for their own security.”


1. PoliticalCritic - January 11, 2007

It looks like a lot of Republicans are moving toward the Democrats’ position on this one. Once this so-called ‘surge’ fails, many more GOPers will abandon W.

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