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McCaskill Reacts to Petraeus’ Testimony
Looks ahead to opportunity to question the general tomorrow
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress heard from Army General David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker today on the situation in Iraq, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill reacted in a radio actuality statement. The text of the statement is included below.
The House of Representatives received testimony from Petraeus and Crocker today. McCaskill will have an opportunity to directly question both men tomorrow when they deliver their long awaited report on the president’s troop surge to the Senate Armed Service Committee.
Regarding General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony before the
House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees
September 10, 2007
“When President Bush asked the American people in January to support a new way forward, he said this surge was going to be about giving the Iraqi people a chance to stabilize. He set forth himself in that speech in January nine benchmarks that he said he would hold the Iraqi government accountable for.
“Unfortunately, so far, we have not heard enough about why these benchmark aren’t being met, and why is it that we have been able to sacrifice as a country now on the ground for longer than our troops fought in World War II, why is it that the Iraq government cannot take meaningful steps towards securing their own country and living with each other.
“I think there is some good news in what General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have said today – the fact that they acknowledge that drawing down troops is the right way to go.
“But unfortunately, I don’t think there has been enough conversation yet about something other than the two extremes. I don’t think any of us in Washington want an expeditious drawdown of all our troops in Iraq. And on the other hand, I don’t think most people in American want us to continue to stand in the middle of a civil war. I think there is something in between. I will look forward in the hearing tomorrow, I will look forward to questioning General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, as I know many other senators will, about what would be in between.
“I think the logical thing is to change the mission, to change our mission from securing Iraq and providing stability to that nation to what we really should be doing which is fighting terrorism. We should be fighting terrorism in Iraq with our troops on the ground, but at a much lower level than we have now. And we should be refocusing our troops in other areas of the world where terrorism continues to be a problem, and in fact is growing because we are bogged down in Iraq. There is a better way than what we are doing now.
“I think that General Petraeus – although I think he is an honorable man, and I think both he and Ambassador Crocker are giving their best judgment – they own this strategy on behalf of the commander-in-chief, and they are obligated to defend it. I think there has to be somewhere in between the president’s stubborn opinion that nothing should change and the position of some on the left who believe everything has to change tomorrow. We’ve got to find that middle ground. It’s important to the American people, it’s important to the men and women risking their lives.”