Jul 18 2008

Graham Responds to Bush, Maliki Agreement on the 'Horizon' for U.S. troop Withdrawals

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on news President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have agreed to set a conditions-based ‘time horizon’ for the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq.


Graham said:


“Before the surge, democratic institutions in Iraq were on the verge of collapse.  Sectarian violence and Iranian influence grew by the day and there existed the real possibility Iraq would become an al Qaeda safe haven and home base for future terrorist attacks.


“With today’s agreement on a ‘time-horizon’ for a conditions-based withdrawal of U.S. combat forces, we have reached a point where it can be said the surge strategy articulated by Senator McCain and adopted by President Bush has worked on all fronts.


“The surge provided better security allowing Iraqi institutions to grow in capability and afforded the political leadership breathing space from the violence to reconcile Iraq .


“Today, the Iraqi government has met 15 of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress.  Violence is down sharply across the board.  Iraq ’s economic future is bright with strong economic growth and a tremendous increase in oil production.  The Iraqi military’s performance in recent engagements against Shia militia and insurgents has been impressive.


Iraq has also planned fall provincial elections which make clear the Iraqi people intend to settle their differences -- not with bullets and bombs -- but within the framework of democracy.


“If our nation had taken the ill-advised course charted by Senator Obama -- pulling out troops during the height of sectarian violence – it would have been a death blow to representative government in Iraq .  Al Qaeda extremists and Iran would have rejoiced at our tragic mistake.  Our nation would have suffered a devastating defeat in the War on Terror.


“Senator Obama was wrong when he opposed the surge.  Senator Obama was wrong when he said it would fail and make things worse.  Senator Obama was wrong when he said Iraq was not a central battle in the War on Terror.  And Senator Obama continues to be wrong when he unilaterally announces and advocates a 16 month withdrawal of American forces.  Senator Obama’s ill-advised timetable was arrived at without consulting our top generals like David H. Petraeus or the Maliki government.  It is an irresponsible policy decision.


“Let’s be clear, the stunning military, economic, and political progress that has been achieved from the surge has come at a heavy price in blood and treasure.  But with its success, the likelihood of a stable, functioning, representative government in the heart of the Arab world is now closer to reality.


“All Americans should be proud of the accomplishments of our men and women in uniform, along with the civilian support staff, and hopeful for our friends and allies in the new, democratic Iraq .”