Kerry on House Democrats’ Deadline Proposal and General Petraeus Comment on Political Solution for Iraqby Pamela Leavey
House Democrats unveiled their plan today for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of August 2008. Their new legislation would attach a “complex series of conditions to military spending requested by President Bush.”
The plan, described in a Capitol Hill news conference by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, would require Bush to certify that the Iraqi government is meeting military, political and economic benchmarks this year. If he cannot, it would move up the U.S. withdrawal to as early as the end of this year.
Regardless of Iraqi progress in meeting the benchmarks, the plan calls for the gradual redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq starting March 1, 2008, and ending within six months.
In related Iraq war news, in his first news conference since taking over command last month, Gen. David Petraeus said “Military force alone is “not sufficient” to end the violence in Iraq and political talks must eventually include some militant groups now opposing the U.S.-backed government.”
“This is critical,” Petraeus said, noting that “such political negotiations “will determine in the long run the success of this effort.””
Kerry responded to General Petraeus’s comment that there is no military solution in Iraq, something he has said for a very long time now, and the House Democratic efforts to set a deadline to redeploy American troops, that was introduced today:
“Like General Casey and General Abizaid before him, General Petraeus has made clear there is no military solution to the political differences between Iraqis. President Bush needs to start listening to the advice of his own generals, not just the happy talk of ideologues. Rather than send more and more of our brave men and women into a civil war, all of Iraq’s players need to be brought together to resolve their differences and decide their own future.
“To push that process forward and end the stalling of Iraqi politicians, we need a deadline to bring our soldiers home. Today, leaders in the House of Representatives introduced a plan setting a deadline for troop withdrawal. That’s an excellent start and that’s what I will continue to fight for here in the Senate. Real solutions demand a real exit strategy. American soldiers shouldn’t continue to pay the price for the stubbornness of Iraqi politicians and a stubborn policy from this Administration, which has ignored the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations.”
The House legislation includes a deadline and requires the Iraqi Government to meet benchmarks — again, something that Kerry has advocated for some time.
A new NBC/WSJ poll out yesterday showed a “whopping 69 percent say they are less confident the Iraq war will come to a successful conclusion.”