Sunday, July 15, 2007

Senator Alexander Breaks with President on Iraq, Advocates Baker-Hamilton Report

I am very proud of my own Senator Lamar Alexander for breaking with the President on Iraq and advocating a responsible way to get out of the mess we created. He has co-sponsored legislation with Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) that would make the Baker-Hamilton report law. Alexander has been consistent supporter of the Iraq Study Group recommendations since it was issued late last year. The legislation he is sponsoring would not set a timetable for withdrawal but it would, said Alexander, get the US military “out of the combat business in Iraq and into the support, equipping and training business in a prompt and responsible way.”

The handwriting is on the wall. The US is not going to continue our current combat level of commitment to Iraq indefinitely. With many troops on their third tour of duty in Iraq, we cannot continue the current commitment with our worn-out all volunteer military and no one is going to support a draft.

However, an immediate withdrawal, which many Democrats desire, could be a disaster. It is not inconceivable to see genocide on the scale of Darfur. Al qaida could gain a foothold in the country, and an expanded war with Iran supporting Shai and Saudi Arabia supporting Sunni factions is a realistic possibility. Also, Turkey is not happy with a Kurdish state on their border and the incursion of Kurdish gorillas into their country. The tension between Turkey and Kurdistan could lead to war.
I hope we use much more care getting out of Iraq than we did getting in. An immediate withdrawal would be the heights of irresponsibility, equal to the irresponsibility that got us in Iraq.

While most Republicans want to wait until September when General Petraeus gives his report on the result of the surge before taking any action, Alexander has said there is no reason to wait. Lamar says we need a strategy for getting out of Iraq and said the surge is “a tactic, not a strategy” and that, “The surge makes much more sense when it’s considered in the context of the Baker-Hamilton recommendations because it’s part of a long term plan.”
Senator Alexander said, “President Bush is right that we can’t afford to fail in Iraq. That is why I support the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group,” “It is important for the president, the Congress, our country and our troops if we speak with one voice on Iraq. The Iraq Study Group report is a way to build that bi-partisan consensus.”

We need more Senators like Lamar Alexander who do not blindly following the President but neither do they advocate an irresponsible policy of “cut an run”.

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