Leahy opposes Petraeus report

Senator Leahy further illustrated the rationale behind an immediate military withdrawal from Iraq. Our presence has become an excuse for inaction. Why should Shiites sacrifice when they have American forces to die for them? Why should the Kurds be more conciliatory when they think we will protect them forever? Why should the Sunnis reconcile among themselves when they can fight Americans together?

Noting that a U.S. military pull-out would indeed have drastic consequences, Senator Leahy advocated a diplomatic approach to our mission in Iraq. As our troops are withdrawing we should make a concerted diplomatic push, bringing together representatives of Iraqs government and Iraqs neighbors. They would have little choice but to recognize that without the U.S. militarys constant presence, they have to make some kind of accommodation among themselves.

Senator Leahy, along with Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), introduced the Feingold-Reid-Leahy amend- ment to the Senate in May 2007, which called for a near complete withdrawal of U.S. military force from Iraq.

In Senator Leahys report when presenting this amendment, he urged Congress and the president to act immediately, warning them of the dangers of stalling until General Petraeus gave his assessment of the Iraqi situation in September. If we put off developing a consensus plan for the redeployment of U.S. forces, more of our troops will be needlessly killed and wounded. More innocent Iraqis will lose their lives It is folly to wait when we already know what the answer will be. We are going to hear words like, The situation is still challenging, but we are making progress.

In contrast to the continuing presence of 130,000 United States military personnel in Iraq, which President Bush advocated in his speech, the Leahy amendment would have made it such that, By springtime of next year [2008], only a small number of troops necessary for limited counterterrorism, force protection, and training purposes would remain in the country. These amendments would effectively end the United States military presence in Iraq as we know it.

Transcripts of Senator Leahys statements are available on his web-site at http://leahy.senate.gov .

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