Yesterday Bush promised Iraq Prime Minister Maliki that the U.S. would ‘stay the course’ in Iraq despite the growing dissent against the war that has recently included some high profile Republican Senators. Public approval of the war is at an all time low, but Bush plods on in a ‘state of denial.’
John Kerry issued the following statement today in response to Bush’s promise to Maliki:
“President Bush committed another misstep in a long line of strategic blunders in his disastrous Iraq policy when he told Prime Minister Maliki to ‘to ignore rumors that the United States government was seeking to impose a timeline on the Maliki government.’”
History may judge this to be the President’s most counterproductive statement since he told the insurgents to ‘bring it on.’ The President gave away the ultimate bargaining card, and instead suggested he will tolerate endless foot dragging by Iraqi politicians, and will outsource decisions about our massive troop presence to a government in Baghdad that refuses to get its act together.
President Bush also signaled he won’t accept the findings of James Baker’s Iraq Study Group if they call for anything more than failed stay the course policies. What does it tell us that Secretary Baker and Congressman Hamilton are signaling we need a change in strategy, along with Senator Warner and Senator Hagel, and yet President Bush signals he won’t accept anything but the arrogant, stubborn, stay the course policies that aren’t working?
Every time President Bush tells the Iraqis we will ‘stay as long as it takes,’ he is giving squabbling Iraqi politicians an excuse to take as long as they want. President Bush should’ve told Prime Minister Maliki that no American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi factions refuse to resolve their ethnic rivalries and their competing grasp for oil revenues.
President Bush should have reminded Prime Minister Maliki that the Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines – a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, a deadline to write a Constitution, a deadline to hold three elections. So we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet– a clear deadline of July, 2007 to redeploy our combat troops. Make Iraqis stand up for Iraq – and bring our heroes home.
This was a moment for President Bush to talk tough and honestly with Prime Minister Maliki, to say we’re not happy with what’s happening, and we can not and will not give a blank check to an Iraqi Prime Minister sustained in power by our forces, who will not speak against the Hezbollah terrorists, who will not take on the sectarian militias, who will not say that Israel has a right to exist, and who will not condemn the Iranian nuclear program. No American soldier should be asked to stand up for an Iraqi government that won’t stand up for freedom and against fear.”