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After the Report

September 17, 2007
Weekly Columns

Last week, two of America's most respected leaders in Iraq, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, delivered a report on the progress and status of the war in Iraq.  The report indicated that there have been substantial successes and that the recent troop surge has worked to increase security in the country.  And, though there is still much to be done in Iraq, the General and the Ambassador presented undeniable evidence that in the past eight to twelve weeks, the security strategy in Baghdad has worked to diminish sectarian violence. In fact, our troops have seen some of their greatest success in Anbar Province, where the level of violence has declined steadily for over six straight months. This has occurred, in part, because of our efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda's movement of terror in Iraq that originated in the Anbar region.  I believe that General Petraeus's assessment demonstrates that because we have fought these battles in Iraq, we have helped to diminish Al-Qaeda's ability to attack America.
I believe General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker's recommendations to gradually draw down our troops are prudent. Though, this must be done in an orderly and appropriately-paced manner that will maximize security for the troops who remain.
In his testimony General Petraeus noted that premature withdrawal of our forces in Iraq could cause immense human suffering for thousands of Iraqis and would further exacerbate the number of refugees that would be forced to flee to neighboring countries. Furthermore, failure in Iraq precipitated by a premature withdrawal will leave a power void that will almost certainly be filled by Iran. That is not a risk the United States can afford to take.

It is critical for U.S. policy makers to work together and give our military and the elected Iraqi leaders the time they need to effectively establish stability in Iraq. It is crucial that our future actions in Iraq should reflect what is best for our soldiers while bolstering a safer and more secure Middle East.  I believe our military leaders have laid out a prudent plan that will achieve those goals. We should follow their recommendations rather than those of politicians in Washington, D.C.

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have given the public an honest assessment of the progress that has been made in Iraq as well as the difficulties that remain. I believe it is wise to listen to the recommendations given by these two career professionals. They are dedicated patriots with absolutely no political axes to grind. I believe they will continue to offer Congress and the President a clear course of action informed by their knowledge of political and military events occurring in Iraq. American leaders need to reject the temptation to politicize the situation in Iraq and instead, heed the advice of people like General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker who actually know what they are talking about.