- Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Senior Diplomatic Fellow with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and a former staff member of this Committee argued that we should: "Accept the partition of Iraq that has already taken place, withdraw from Arab Iraq, and redeploy a small force to Kurdistan that can strike at al-Qaeda if necessary."
- Dr. Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who authored a recent study that: "calls for a sustained surge of American combat forces into Iraq in order to restore and maintain stability and security in Baghdad, reduce sectarian violence, protect the Iraqi population, and help establish a normal life for the Iraqi people."
- Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute who argued that: "the president should begin the process of removing American troops immediately, and that process needs to be complete in no more than six months."
In his address to the nation on the evening of January 10, President Bush announced a surge of more than 21,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, primarily in Baghdad. The White House posted, along with the text of the address, the National Security Council's Highlights of the Iraq Security Review and a fact sheet, the New Way Forward in Iraq.
The day before Congress reconvened on January 3, Arianna Huffington reported in DC Notes: Murtha Again Taking the Lead on Iraq that Rep, John Murtha (D-PA), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense, was already talking about using the power of the purse to limit a surge:
The only way you can have a troop surge, is to extend the tours of people whose tours have already been extended, or to send back people who have just gotten back home....Money is the only way we can stop it for sure.
To this end, Murtha, the incoming Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, is planning to hold wide-ranging hearings, starting January 17th, that will focus on the depleted state of our military readiness , as well as contractor corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goal is to turn the spotlight on how drained the military has become, and on how any talk of a troop surge is utterly irresponsible (as well as strategically misguided). "The public," he said repeatedly, "is already ahead of us on all this."
He says he wants to "fence the funding," denying the president the resources to escalate the war, instead using the money to take care of the soldiers as we bring them home from Iraq "as soon as we can."
Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.
After Vietnam, one hoped that we could salvage pride in the courage with which our soldiers fought, and in the knowledge that we had learned our lesson well enough that we would never again send them to die in such a doomed cause.
Dear Mr. President:We fully support your consideration of alternatives to the current U.S. policy in Iraq and eagerly await your announcement of a new U.S. strategy. We respectively urge you not to include an escalation or "surge" of U.S. military forces as part of that new strategy.As members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have indicated in published reports, even a short-term escalation of the number of U.S. troops in Iraq could create larger problems in the long-term. It would increase Iraqi dependence on our forces, deplete our strategic reserve and force extended tours of duty for soldiers and Marines who are scheduled to return to their families. Hostile militias could respond by simply melting back into society until the surge is ended. The Pentagon has warned that an escalation of our troop levels in Iraq could lead to an increase in al-Qaeda attacks, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeals for foreign fighters to attack U.S. soldiers.Former Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell, recently characterized our Army as "about broken", warning against an escalation of the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. According to a recent Military Times poll, nearly three-quarters of our servicemen and women think that our military is stretched too thin to be effective.We have already seen the results of a surge of U.S. forces in Baghdad. Last August we increased the number of troops there by 12,000 as part of "Operation Together Forward". Since then the level of violence and the loss of American and Iraqi lives has increased significantly. According to the Pentagon, there were an average of almost 960 attacks per month against Americans and Iraqis since the surge began. This is the highest level of attacks recorded by the Pentagon since it began issuing quarterly assessment reports in 2005. Clearly, the escalation of U.S. troops in Baghdad failed to meet its mission. There is no evidence that expanding this approach even further would lead to a different result.Mr. President, we applaud your re-assessment of U.S. strategy in Iraq. However, we urge you to reject any recommendation for either a short or long term increase in the number of U.S. troops. We are persuaded by all available evidence that an escalation of U.S. troop levels is not the way forward in Iraq.
A military victory in Iraq is unattainable, just as it was in the Vietnam war.
Nothing in his speech tonight has caused me to reconsider my position.As I noted earlier today, the proposed surge in U.S. troops does not by itself present a clear and convincing plan to achieve U.S. goals in Iraq and, in my view, would only further complicate the current problems.I've long advocated that our country reduce its footprint in Iraq. We must move to establish a benchmark based plan for systematically withdrawing troops while encouraging the Iraqi government to rebuild their economy and take full responsibility.
Like many Americans, I desperately want America to succeed in Iraq and I would welcome a fresh approach," LaTourette said. "This isn't a fresh approach. This is more of the same." responsibility for their own national security.
absent a national emergency created by an attack, or a demonstrably imminent attack, by Iran upon the United States or its armed forces - the President must consult with Congress and receive specific authorization prior to initiating any use of military force against Iran.
Today, there is a growing concern - justified or not - that some U.S. officials are contemplating military action against Iran. This resolution makes it crystal clear that no previous resolution passed by Congress authorizes such use of force. The Constitution of the United States declares that, while the Commander in Chief has the power to conduct wars, only Congress has the power to authorize them.One of the many lessons from our involvement in Iraq is that Congress needs to ask the right questions prior to exercising its Constitutional authority to approve the use of military force....If the President is contemplating committing our blood and treasure in another war, then he and his administration must make the case to Congress and the American people why it would be in the national security interests of the United States to engage militarily in Iran.
I don't want to embarrass the president, but my position is clear. I do not believe that a surge in troops is going to solve the fundamental problem we have....Iraqis have to decide they're going to stop killing themselves.
I disagree with the President's decision to provide a troop surge in Baghdad. My concern about a troop surge is compounded by the impact it will have on Minnesota National Guard troops in Iraq and their families here at home. I am extremely disappointed by the news that our National Guard soldiers in Iraq will have their tour of duty extended. When I visited them a few weeks ago in Iraq, they were excited about coming home in March. At a time when our National Guard troops and families are making the ultimate commitment to serve our country and defend our freedom, they deserve better than to be told only a short time before their scheduled return that their service is being extended.
Baghdad is ground zero for a sectarian civil war. The Iraqi government must demonstrate the resolve and ability to quell the sectarian violence if they expect continued American commitment. Failure in Iraq would unleash destructive ethnic cleansing and regional instability. Success in Iraq requires reconciliation between Shiites and Sunni. I do not believe a troop surge is the answer.
What is clear to me is that we are fighting two different wars within Iraq. The first is the war we intended to fight, a war against al-Qaeda forces and insurgent extremists. ...I This is an entirely different kind of battle than the second war, the sectarian violence raging on the streets of Baghdad.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Zuckerman:
Based on the trip I took to Iraq last month, I concluded it would be a mistake to increase the overall level of troops in Iraq.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) describes her view as: "deep skepticism."
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
At this point I am skeptical that a surge in troops alone will bring an end to sectarian violence and the insurgency that is fomenting instability in Iraq. The generals who have served there do not believe additional troops alone will help. And my faith in Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki's political will to make the hard choices necessary to bring about a political solution is fragile at best.
I'm open to the president's plan, but I need to learn a whole lot more of the details.
I don't know anyone who's not. It doesn't mean we shouldn't or can't go forward, but it makes it a lot more difficult.
As our agenda moves forward, we will restore the House Armed Services Committee's historic commitment to robust oversight of the Pentagon and of the Administration's military policies. Other priorities include, but are not limited to: taking care of the troops and their families; rebuilding military readiness, particularly for the Army and the Marine Corps; a comprehensive examination of our current policy in Iraq and identifying options for the future; refocusing attention on the war in Afghanistan; and placing greater emphasis on preventing nuclear proliferation.
The proposed increase in U.S. troop levels in Iraq is three and a half years late and several hundred thousand troops short. The Administration had the opportunity before we invaded Iraq to heed General Eric Shinseki's advice on the troop levels required to stabilize a country in crisis. Sadly, the General's recommendations were dismissed out of hand.This proposed troop increase is not a new strategy; it is a change in tactics. The President's announcement simply repackages a military plan that has been tried before - admittedly without today's hype - but our experience has shown that a limited infusion of troops will not necessarily produce the improvement to Iraqi security that we hoped....Our force is under tremendous strain and this troop increase will only make the strain worse. While we will take a careful look at the President's plan in a series of hearings, I remain convinced that a gradual and responsible redeployment of U.S. forces is the best way to help the Iraqis take responsibility for their security and to restore the full strength of our military.
a template to transition security operations from the American military to the Iraqi government.
Deepening our involvement in Iraq would be a mistake. Deepening our involvement in Iraq on the assumption that the Iraqis will meet future benchmarks and commitments given their track record would compound the mistake.
Just two months General Abizaid testified before this Committee against increasing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. He told us: "I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future."General Casey made that same point on January 2 when he said that "The longer we in the U.S. forces continue to bear the main burden of Iraq's security, it lengthens the time that the government of Iraq has to take the hard decisions about reconciliation and dealing with the militias. And the other thing is that they can continue to blame us for all of Iraq's problems, which are at base their problems."
Iraq is already providing a first-rate jihadi combat training-zone and, from an al-Qaida perspective, this is without any risk of changing. They (and many western analysts) simply do not believe that the United States can win in Iraq. Therefore, the longer it loses the better. In light of the fact that al-Qaida deals in decades, it has the prospect of decades of training for jihadi cohorts.
British official said Mr. Blair was set to make an announcement to the Commons on a draw-down by the end of next month, after the conclusion of the UK's current operation around the city of Basra. Officials say the goal is to reduce British troops in Iraq from the current 7,100 to 4,500.
To clear and hold you need a sympathetic or potentially sympathetic civilian population that is being held hostage by militants, and which you can turn by offering them protection from the militants. I don't believe there are very many Iraqi Sunnis who can any longer be turned in that way. The opinion polling suggests that they overwhelmingly support violence against the US.
This strategy may have some successes here and there. It won't win the day, and I'd be surprised if it did not collapse by the end of the summer.