Our presence in Iraq is a critical component of the War on Terror. Yesterday’s recommendations by the Iraq Study Group are aimed at returning the United States to its place as the watchdog of democracy and freedom for people all over the world.

The most critical component of the recommendations focuses on the need for the Iraq government to step up its responsibility of serving, protecting and providing for their countrymen. I could not agree more with this point; it is not an open ended commitment.

We continue to train and encourage the Iraq Security Forces so that they will sooner, rather than later, be able to take the reigns of control completely. This is a recognized goal, and we are taking the actions to make it a reality. As soon as we can confidently depart Iraq, knowing it can defend itself, we will.

However, we must remember this is not simply a matter of Iraq taking care of itself. It remains an important player in Middle East politics. A tentative balance of power in the Middle East continues, but should it falter, there would be a considerable threat to the peace of the entire region, which will inevitably spread across the globe. The negative ramifications of this failure could be felt for generations to come.

It should come as no surprise that a powerful and vindictive Iran is waiting in the wings. As Iran gains nuclear power, its prominence and sway over the region will present an unprecedented threat to peace everywhere. Iraq must stand as the beacon of democracy and be able to balance the power of her surrounding neighbors who are openly hostile to any form of freedom.

I plan to return to Iraq soon and review the progress of the Iraq Security Forces. They are being trained by the best in the world - our United States Armed Forces. I know that our soldiers have done all we have asked of them.

But I also go to Iraq to meet face-to-face with new leaders in the Iraqi government so I can share my political and governing experience in a complex and partisan government.

I hope that all Members of Congress, in both Houses and on both sides of the aisle, will remember our overarching goal – to defend our homeland and to seek freedom for all. I will carefully and diligently review and support the best of the recommendations.