Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on President Obama’s Iraq withdrawal plan.
“The implementation of the withdrawal plan announced by the President and supported by our combat commanders still has risk associated with it but overall seems sound. The ability to slow down troop withdrawals, if necessary, and leaving a strong contingent force of trainers and terrorist fighters will help ensure continued stability in Iraq.
“While the war in Iraq has not yet ended, all Americans should celebrate our ability to withdraw troops from Iraq with honor and after having achieved our objectives. Every American should enthusiastically greet the last combat soldier with a hearty well done and deep appreciation for having been successful.
“The President’s announcement was made possible only because of the change in strategy, called the surge, which was highly unpopular and received virtually no Democratic support. The need for the surge was based on the realization that the old strategy was failing and that we could not afford to lose in Iraq. To have done so would have empowered al Qaeda, led to a more influential Iran, and made it virtually impossible to convince moderate Muslims to side with us in the War on Terror. Now we are on the verge of realizing the significant benefits of success – a stable, functioning government in Iraq where the people rejected al Qaeda, and are embracing representative government. These events are long overdue changes in the heart of the Middle East. The new Iraq will buffer Iranian ambitions and, over time, become an important ally in the greater War on Terror.
“The country should be ever mindful that mistakes will be made in all wars but there is no substitute for resolve. I am proud of the resolve the troops and their civilian counterparts continue to show in Iraq. I’m equally proud of the Iraqi people as they have rejected terrorism and continue to fight bravely for their own freedom.
“Much still lies ahead in Iraq regarding political reconciliation, providing better governance, and strengthening the Iraqi army and police forces. The residual U.S. force will be necessary to continue to assist in these areas.
“However, let there be no doubt that the American military and their civilian counterparts and coalition forces are coming home having delivered a decisive blow against al Qaeda and with the knowledge that the new Iraq, based on democratic, representative government, has changed the politics of the Middle East and has made the world a more secure and hopeful place.”