The American People Deserve a New Iraq Strategy (Rep. Kathy Castor)

President George W. Bush last night presented no significant new plan to change the direction of the War in Iraq – no new military strategy, no new diplomatic strategy, and no new political strategy. Without a change in strategy, the Bush-Cheney War in Iraq will continue to place America at a strategic risk. According to recent reports before the House Armed Services Committee on which I serve, the White House policy is undermining our country’s readiness and ability to address other global threats to our national security.

Indeed, in testimony before the Armed Services Committee, top commanders have testified that America runs a “strategic risk

Despite the significant American investment of lives, time and money, recent reports have outlined serious challenges in Iraq. Last week the GAO reported that the Iraqi government had made progress on only three of eighteen benchmarks. Also the Jones Independent Commission on Security Forces in Iraq reported that the Iraqi police forces are completely dysfunctional and that the mission of American troops should be changed by early 2008. The costs of the war have escalated now to over $10 billion per month and over one half trillion dollars over the past four and one half years. Plus, U.S. forces have suffered more casualties each month in Iraq from January to August. And yet, President Bush and Vice President Cheney announced their intention to keep American soldiers indefinitely in the center of the Iraqi religious civil war between Sunni and Shia muslim sects. President Bush also failed to detail any effort to convince other countries to assist with an international effort to aid Iraq.

I relayed the concerns of my neighbors and constituents to General David Petraeus on Monday: “While the American people have great confidence in the troops, in our brave men and women in uniform, they have totally lost confidence in the top of our national government. The troop surge was supposed to get Iraqi leaders the security and time to bring about national reconciliation. It didn't happen. The American people want to know, as we're in the fifth year of this war, how much longer, how many billions of dollars more, while we are growing a global strategic risk?"

President Bush stated last night his intention to stay on the same course through the end of his presidency in 2009. A war without a definite end or comprehensive plan is not in America’s best interest and will continue to be very costly – costly not just in terms of the degradation of our nation’s readiness, casualties of war, and waste and fraud due to the lack of past oversight, but costly in terms of sacrifices to health care for children and seniors and investments in our towns and neighborhoods while continuing his war without end.

It is important to demand a new direction on behalf of the American people and a new comprehensive strategy to protect our great nation.

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