Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Brownback On Iraq
Consider it reflections of an Iraq hawk (with italicized emphases added).
We all wish the situation was better, but I am particularly disappointed. I’ve had a long-term interest in Iraq. When I first served in the United States Senate, first came to the Senate in 1996, I served on the Foreign Relations Committee and chaired the Middle East subcommittee that held some of the first hearings on what to do about Saddam Hussein’s regime.
I carried the Iraq Liberation Act on the floor of the Senate that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, I helped get the initial $100 million for the Iraqi National Congress top help organize the opposition to Saddam Hussein.
I attended the first INC meeting, the Iraqi National Congress meeting, with Senator Bob Kerry of Nebraska, and we both went to New York City to meet with the opposition about what to do about Saddam Hussein. I attended the first INC meeting in London. I have been committed to a free, safe and secure Iraq from the very beginning.
But during my meetings last week I found less reason for optimism. Sunni leaders blame everything on the Shi'a. Shi'a leaders, likewise, blame everything on the Sunnis. The Kurdish leadership pointed out that the Sunni and Shi'a only meet when the Kurds call the meeting.
All of this suggests that at the present time, the United States cares more about a peaceful Iraq than the Iraqis do. If that is the case, it is difficult to understand why more U.S. troops would make a difference.
One other bright spot I would talk about during my time in Iraq, as I previously noted, was my visit to the northern part of the country, the Kurdish region. Here, the security situation is stable and business is booming. Some number of people are moving out of Iraq, moving into the northern Iraq into the Kurdish region.
Kurds are demonstrating what is possible for the rest of Iraq when the violence recedes. Kurds are pragmatic; they are worried about committing Kurdish forces to Baghdad. I even asked Brazani, would he commit Kurdish forces for the peace in Baghdad? He declined to do so at that time, of actual Kurdish forces. They don’t want to get caught in the middle of the sectarian fight. If Iraqi Kurds feel this way, why should we feel any different?
Simply put, the Iraqis have to resolve these sectarian differences; we cannot do it for them. This does not mean we should pull out of Iraq and leave behind a security vacuum or a safe haven for terrorists. I do not support that alternative.
It does mean that there must be bipartisan agreement for our military commitment on Iraq. We cannot fight a war with the support of only one political party. And it does mean that the parties in Iraq--Sunni, Shi’a and Kurds--must get to a political agreement, to a political equilibrium.
I think most people agree that a cut and run strategy does not serve our interest at all, nor those of the world, nor those of the region, nor those of the Iraqi people. So I invite my colleagues, all around, particularly on the other side of the aisle, to indicate what level of commitment they can support.
We need to come together in Congress and as a nation on a strategy that will make real progress in Iraq and gain as much support as possible from the American people. Only a broadly supported, bipartisan strategy will allow us to remain in Iraq for the length of time necessary to ensure regional stability and the defeat the terrorists. And that is our object.
UPDATE: After a visit, another GOP Senator expresses skepticism over Iraq, given the refusal of government to address Shiite militia. But, wait!! Prime Minister Maliki announces a round-up of 400 of the Sh'ia usual suspects.