September 19, 2007

CARDIN SUPPORTS AMENDMENTS THAT WOULD ESTABLISH A NEW IRAQ STRATEGY

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, today addressed the Senate to call for a change in the mission for U.S. forces in Iraq, one that would remove U.S. troops from the middle of a civil war.

 

Senator Cardin voiced support for an amendment introduced to the Defense Reauthorization Bill by Senators Carl Levin, D-MI, and Jack Reed, D-RI.   The amendment would establish a timetable to begin withdrawal and require a new mission for U.S. forces in Iraq.  It also would require the Secretary of Defense to develop a comprehensive diplomatic, political and economic strategy that includes encouraging the United Nations to appoint a mediator to bring all parties and countries in the region to the table.    

 

During Senate debate, Senator Cardin also announced his support for an amendment introduced by Senator Joseph Biden, D-DE, that calls for the United States to assist Iraq's major factions in reaching a political settlement based upon creation of a federal system of government and stronger federal regions as called for in Iraq's constitution. 

 

"President Bush's Iraq strategy has put this nation at greater risk.   The American people want a realistic policy, one that will begin the process of removing our troops from the midst of a civil war, and give our troops a more realistic mission that involves counter-terrorism, training and force protection" said Senator Cardin.

 

Senator Cardin cited a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report release earlier this month and the August National Intelligence Estimate to illustrate the failure of the President's Iraq policies.   The GAO report stated that the Iraq government had only met one of the eight benchmarks called for by Congress.   The NIE report stated that the level of violence, particularly among civilians remains high.   It is estimated that internally displaced Iraqis now number 2 million people and 2.2 million have fled the country.

 

"A change of mission must also include increased political efforts to support stronger federal regions and stepped up diplomatic efforts to engage the international community in building a stable Iraq."