Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted against two Democratic attempts to establish a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. The provisions, introduced as amendments to the Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill, both failed. After the votes, Graham made the following statement:
“If the United States Senate sets a timetable for withdrawal, it will be viewed as a rebuke of the Iraqi government and a vote of no-confidence in the Iraqi people. The Iraqis are coming together and creating a new democracy out of the ashes of a dictatorship. For us to say we are going to leave at a date certain will weaken the Iraqi government and empower the terrorists.
“There will be a timetable for us to leave, but it will be collaboration between our two nations and our coalition partners. It will be a timetable to help empower the Iraqi government and people while diminishing the terrorists. I hope the American people and Congress will be patient.
“I’m proud of the job the American military has done in Iraq. We should all be very grateful for their service to our nation. I’m also proud of the Iraqi people and their government. With the death of Zarqawi and the creation of an Iraqi National Government, we’re beginning to make progress against the terrorists.
“When we have asked something of the Iraqis they have delivered and done so under some of the most difficult of circumstances. It’s tough to run for office in America, but its nothing compared to what elected officials in Iraq have to go through. Their leaders are targeted by the insurgents and terrorists who come after them and their families.
“My hat goes off to the Iraqis who have joined the police force, military, and served in elected office. I admire them and I am very proud the United States is standing by their side. I have every confidence the Iraqis will want us to leave at some point. But they understand, like we do, their capacity to defend the nation from the wolves of terrorism is limited right now.
“I want to leave behind a democratic government where Iraqis can live together under the rule of law and settle their differences at the ballot box and courtroom. Our Iraqi friends have come a long way. They’re not lazy or indifferent. They are making history, fighting and dying along side us for their own freedom. Let’s not set a timetable that diminishes the sacrifices our nations have made.
“History will judge us not when we left Iraq, but what we left behind.”