My Fellow Americans--
Nine months ago, in consultation with military commanders and the civilian Iraqi leadership, we crafted a new strategy for Iraq. This strategy was based heavily on the principles of counter-insurgency, and included increasing American combat strength by some 30,000 troops to help hold strategic ground, and take away from the enemy--which includes sectarian factions, Al-Qaida in Iraq, and foreign combatants from Iran and Syria--breathing room.
For the purpose of accomplishing this new strategy, the military command tapped the services of Gen. David Petraeus, a four-star general who wrote the book on counter-insurgency tactics, and who had experience successfully holding ground in Iraq earlier in the war. The United States Senate confirmed Gen. Petraeus by a unanimous vote. In other words, every single Senator voted in favor of this man who explicitly advocated the new approach to Iraq.
Just this week, General Petraeus delivered to Congress his assessment of where we stand in Iraq at this time. His assessment was measured, sober, and, above all, professional.
His behavior in front of the Congress stands in stark contrast to the behavior of groups who attempted to disrupt his testimony to Congress, or of one group who slandered this good and honorable and noble man of service on the pages of the New York Times. These unwarranted, and, frankly, cowardly, attacks on a man who has dedicated his life to defending this country have gone unrebuked by Democrats in Congress; in fact, when given the opportunity to vote on condemning the actions of MoveOn.org, Democrats in Congress have blocked the vote, leaving the slander, officially, unchallenged
Today, some in Congress have concluded that the General is wrong--that his assessment of the situation on the ground is too optimistic, that his command of the facts is faulty, that his strategy moving forward is flawed. One Representative even went so far as to insinuate that the General deliberately altered the numbers he used in his testimony before them.
I respectfully disagree with my friends on the other side of the aisle. When a man of General Petraeus' long record of honorable service, startling intellect, and sober demeanor tells me that what we are doing is working, and that we need to keep the pressure on, I listen. I accept that his command of the situation is betterthan the understanding one gets from the white marble halls of Washington, and I intend to do everything in my power to help him carry out his strategy.
More importantly, I am encouraged that General Petraeus has concluded that the situation is improving enough that it may be possible to bring home about 20% of American forces by next Spring. Regardless of what the politicians in Washington say, this is a clear indicator that the situation in Iraq is improving.
I would encourage all Americans to continue supporting and praying for our troops in harm's way in Iraq. Now that it is possible to see a way forward to victory in Iraq--as opposed to the "measured defeat" some in Congress are advocating--we need to support their efforts all the more, and pray for a hedge of protection around them, as the enemy is bound to become more desperate in the weeks to come.
At the same time, it should become clear to all Americans that the enemy in the larger War is paying attention to the debate here in Washington. Terrorist cells in the Netherlands, Germany, and Turkey have been broken in the last few weeks, all of them with instructions from Al-Qaida to carry out their attacks to coincide not with the anniversary of 9/11, but with the debate here in Washington to continue this War or not. Fortunately, and with the help of some of the tools American intelligence has at its disposal, all three of these attacks were thwarted. These events highlight not only the fact that Al Qaida works to influence American political debates, but also that the most important weapon America and the civilized world has at its disposal in this fight is the ability to find out what the enemy is doing and planning.
Americans should feel proud of the work our intelligence community is doing to protect them from the enemy, and they should be glad that our citizen soldiers are methodically striking at the enemy where it is right now. So I call on Congress to continue giving our intelligence community everything at its disposal to shed light on the enemy, and to give our military the support it needs to end the enemy wherever we find them.
But, of course, I'm not going to hold my breath.