Staying is not the answer|
By John Murtha
Staying the course in Iraq is not an option or a policy. I believe we must begin discussions for an immediate re-deployment of U.S. forces from Iraq. I believe it can be accomplished in as little as six months, but it must be consistent with the safety of U.S. troops. (Related: Our view
The public is way ahead of Congress and is thirsting for a new direction. Sixty-six percent of the responses I have received are in favor of my plan. The public knows this war cannot be won with words. Most agree the insurgency cannot be won militarily. The Iraqis themselves must be the driving force. Yet we have lost their hearts and minds. America wants and deserves real answers. What is the clear definition of success? Is there a plan? How much longer and how many more lives? In short, what is the end game?
Aside from the fact that the original plan to win the peace was flawed, two-and-a-half years later the indices that would determine the ultimate success of a stable Iraq have not improved. Electricity and oil production are below pre-war levels, unemployment remains at 60% and insurgent incidents have increased from 150 to more than 700 per week. Average monthly death rates of U.S. servicemembers have grown since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal from one per day to almost four. Despite the addition of more troops, more equipment and more money, Iraq and the region have become less stable over time. Global terrorism has risen. What is more of the same going to do for Iraq or the region?
Some claim the answer is to put even more troops on the ground, but many of our troops are already on their third deployment. Our Army cannot recruit to its current target, even as recruiting standards are lowered. We cannot do this without a draft. My plan calls for a more rapid turnover of Iraq to the Iraqi people. Gen. George Casey said in a September hearing that "the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency." We have become a catalyst for violence. A recent poll showed that 80% of the Iraqi public are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops; 45% believe attacks against Americans are justified.
The Iraqis are a smart and proud people. They must take control of their country. My plan motivates the Iraqis to take control, sooner rather than later.
Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha is the top Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee.