Reid: One Year After President's Announcement Of Surge Strategy, Iraqis Remain No Closer To Political Solution

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Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today ahead of the one-year anniversary of President Bush’s announcement of his escalation in Iraq:

“It is unfortunate and undeniable that one year after President Bush announced his ‘surge’ strategy, Iraq has failed to meet the benchmarks he outlined – and his Administration has refused to hold Iraqis accountable for these unacceptable results. No amount of White House spin can hide the fact that the escalation’s chief objective of political reconciliation remains unmet, Iraqis have not demonstrated any readiness to stand up and take responsibility for their own country, and 2007 was the most lethal year yet for American troops. Democrats know Americans cannot afford to continue to pay the heavy price of this war and will continue to fight for a change of course that makes our country more secure.

“One year ago, President Bush outlined several important goals. He said the Iraqi government would take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November 2007. He said Iraq would hold provincial elections. He said the Iraqi government would pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. And he said Iraq would pass de-Baathification laws and constitutional reforms. Not one of these goals has been met.

“Instead, over the past year nearly 900 brave Americans have been killed while trying to provide Iraq’s leaders with the opportunity to unite their country. In that time American taxpayers have spent more than $120 billion to finance another nation’s civil war and back an Iraqi government that shows little interest in progress.  And as President Bush continues to cling stubbornly to his flawed strategy, Al Qaeda only grows stronger. Rather than unconditionally supporting an endless war the American people oppose, I strongly urge the President to work with Congress to redeploy our troops and refocus the mission in Iraq so we can more effectively fight the war on terror.”

One Year Since President’s “Surge” Speech, Iraqis Have Failed to Meet Their Responsibilities

IRAQI GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED TO ACCOMPLISH LEGISLATIVE GOALS LAID OUT BY PRESIDENT BUSH

President Bush Said U.S. Would Hold Iraqis Accountable for Meeting Benchmarks. “A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • GAO Found Iraqi Government Had Met Just 3 of 18 Benchmarks. According to the GAO report, “As of August 30, 2007, the Iraqi government met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11 of its 18 benchmarks.” [GAO Report: Securing, Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq, September 2007]
  • GAO Reports Iraqis Still Have Met Just 1 Legislative Benchmark Intended to Promote National Reconciliation. “The Iraqi government continues to make limited progress in meeting eight legislative benchmarks intended to promote national reconciliation.1 As of October 25, 2007, the Iraqi government had met one legislative benchmark and partially met another.” [GAO Report, 10/30/07]
  • Secretary of Rice Is Seeking to Downplay the Importance of Benchmarks. “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice downplayed those promises by year’s end in a switch from Bush’s tone in January. ‘I no longer think of them so much as benchmarks as the pieces that they are now presenting as what they need to do over the next year,’ she said on Dec. 21.” [NPR, 1/7/08]

President Bush Said Iraqi Government Would Pass Legislation to Share Oil Revenues. “To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • But Iraq’s Parliament Has Still Not Passed an Oil Law. “There’s been no rush when it comes to legislation. Iraqi politicians were supposed to pass an oil law. But the law did not pass. There are still deep divisions, especially with the Kurds in the north, who want more control over the oil in their region.” [NPR, 1/7/08]

President Bush Said Iraqi Government Would Hold Provincial Elections in 2007. “To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • But Provincial Elections Were Not Held in 2007. “Provincial elections were not held. Sunnis want them so they can have a greater say in how they are governed. The Shiites are stalling.” [NPR, 1/7/08]

President Bush Said Iraq Would Pass De-Baathification Law and Constitutional Reform. “And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • But De-Baathification Law Stalled in Iraqi Parliament. “Bush also said the Iraqi government would reform de-Baathification laws. But the government has not reformed these laws. It would allow into government jobs thousands of Sunnis, many of them low-level members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.” [NPR, 1/7/08]
  • And Constitutional Review Benchmark Has Still Not Been Met. “The benchmark requiring a review of the Iraqi Constitution has not yet been met.” [GAO Report, 10/30/07]
  • Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Said There Is a Political Crisis in the Country. “No one has anything good to say about the current Iraqi government. Not even Barham Salih, the deputy prime minister. ‘I think we do have a very serious political crisis in this country. We need to do a lot better in terms of bringing about the political environment that can sustain these security gains,’ he says. ‘Iraq is in need of an exceptionally qualified, capable government. My government, the government of which I am part of, leaves a lot to be desired. A country like Iraq cannot be run like this.'” [NPR, 1/9/08]

IRAQI SECURITY FORCES HAVE FAILED TO LIVE UP TO THE EXPECTATIONS LAID OUT BY PRESIDENT BUSH

President Bush Said Iraqis Would Take Control of All 18 Provinces By January 2007. “To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • But Iraqis Controlled Just Nine of the Country’s Eighteen Provinces by the End of 2007. “By year’s end, Iraq controlled just nine of the country’s 18 provinces. The American ground commander, Lt. General Ray Odierno, said he doesn’t want to move too fast on the turnover – that security is still tenuous in many areas.” [NPR, 1/7/08]

President Bush Said Iraqi Forces Would Increase Forces Deployed Across Baghdad to 18 Army and Police Brigades. “Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad’s nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations — conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • But Iraqi Forces in Baghdad Have Dropped to 15 Brigades. “But a year later, the number of Iraqi brigades has dropped in Baghdad from 18 to 15. Some of the units have been sent by the Iraqi government to other hotspots.” [NPR, 1/7/08]  

IRAQIS HAVE FAILED TO PUT ASIDE SECTARIANISM IN GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS

President Bush Said Prime Minister Maliki Pledged that Sectarian Interference Would Not Be Tolerated. “In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods — and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

  • Sectarianism Persists in Iraqi National Police. “Many National Police units are still linked with Shiite death squads. ‘They have a lot of very, very serious issues within the National Police,’ former Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles Ramsey said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ He was on a high-level panel looking at the Iraqi security forces… The National Police are just one example of the stubborn sectarianism — especially between Shiites and Sunnis — that Bush said last January would be a thing of the past.” [NPR, 1/7/08]
  • Shiite-Led Iraqi Government Views Leaders of Sunni Awakening Movement As a Threat, While Sunni Leaders Oppose the Central Government. “The United States is empowering a new group of Sunni leaders, including onetime members of former president Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, intelligence services and army, who are challenging established Sunni politicians for their community’s leadership. The phenomenon marks a sharp turnaround in U.S. policy and the fortunes of Iraq’s Sunni minority. The new leaders are decidedly against Iraq’s U.S.-backed, Shiite-led government, which is wary of the Awakening movement’s growing influence, viewing it as a potential threat when U.S. troops withdraw.” [Washington Post, 1/8/08]
  • Ambassador Crocker Acknowledged That Sunnis and Shiite Leaders Are Not Cooperating at the National Level. “The U.S. military has been busy getting Sunni and Shiite leaders to work together at the local level, but Crocker acknowledges that this has not been replicated by Iraqi officials at the national level. ‘That’s got to happen or nothing good is coming down the line,’ he says.” [NPR, 1/9/08]

VIOLENCE IN IRAQ REMAINS HIGH AND MILLIONS HAVE BEEN DISPLACED

2007 Was the Deadliest Year Yet for U.S. Troops in Iraq. “The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of five more soldiers, making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for U.S. troops, according to an Associated Press count…At least 852 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the highest annual toll since the war began in March 2003, according to AP figures. Some 850 troops died in 2004.” A total of 892 American troops were killed in Iraq in 2007 according to the Washington Post. [Associated Press, 11/6/07; Washington Post, Faces of the Fallen]

  • Survey of Journalists Found that they Describe Conditions in Iraq as Most Perilous They Have Ever Faced, and Have Gotten Progressively Worse as the War Has Continued. “Above all, the journalists—most of them veteran war correspondents—describe conditions in Iraq as the most perilous they have ever encountered, and this above everything else is influencing the reporting. A majority of journalists surveyed (57%) report that at least one of their Iraqi staff had been killed or kidnapped in the last year alone—and many more are continually threatened… And most journalists, eight out of ten, feel that, over time, conditions for telling the story of Iraq have gotten worse, not better.” [Project for Excellence in Journalism, 11/28/07]

Number of Internally Displaced Iraqis Has Risen to 2.3 Million. “Iraq’s displaced population has grown to 2.3 million people, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society said Monday on the heels of a warning by another humanitarian aid group that border tensions are exacerbating the plight of those who fled north to escape sectarian violence. The Red Crescent report says an additional 67,000 families left their homes in September, continuing a pattern that has multiplied the number of displaced people more than fivefold this year.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/6/07]

U.N. Estimates Additional 2 Million Iraqis Have Left the Country Since War Began. “More than 4 million Iraqis have now been displaced by violence in the country, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday, warning that the figure will continue to rise. The number of Iraqis who have fled the country as refugees has risen to 2.2 million, said Jennifer Pagonis, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. A further 2 million have been driven from their homes but remain within the country, increasingly in ‘impoverished shanty towns,’ she said.” [Associated Press, 6/5/07]

GAO Division Director Testified That Reduction in Violence in Iraq Is Largely Due to the Ethnic Cleansing That Has Already Occurred Throughout the Country. In testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, the Director of International and Trade Division, Joe Christoff, testified, “I’m not going to answer that one, but I can talk a little bit about ethnic cleansing, because I think that’s an important consideration in even assessing the overall security situation in Iraq. You know, we look at the attack data going down, but it’s not taking into consideration the fact that there might be fewer attacks because you have ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, particularly in the Baghdad area.” [Hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operation and Related Programs, 10/30/07]  

AMERICA HAS CONTINUED TO POUR RESOURCES INTO IRAQ TO LITTLE EFFECT

Current Cost of War in Iraq Is Approximately $10 Billion Per Month. “Based on obligations data for most of FY2007, CRS estimates that DOD’s average monthly obligations for contracts and pay are running about $11.4 billion including about $9.6 billion for Iraq and $1.8 billion for Afghanistan.” [CRS Report, 11/9/07]

  • That Amounts to…

$309,677,419 Per Day

$12,903,225 Per Hour

$215,053 Per Minute

$3,584 Per Second

U.S. Has Already Spent $450 Billion on War in Iraq. “The $609 billion total covers all war-related appropriations from FY2001 through enactment of the FY2007 Supplemental (H.R. 2206/P.L.110-28) that have been provided in supplementals, regular appropriations, and the FY2007 Year-Long Continuing Resolution (H.J.Res. 20/P.L.110-5). Of that total, CRS estimates that Iraq will receive about $448 billion (74%), OEF about $127 billion (21%), and enhanced base security about $28 billion (5%), with about $5 billion that CRS cannot allocate (1%). About 93% of the funds is for DOD, 7% for foreign aid programs and embassy operations, and less than 1% for medical care for veterans.” [CRS Report, 11/9/07]

Despite More Than $100 Billion Spent on Iraqi Reconstruction, Progress Is Still Well Below What U.S. Had Hoped for in Areas Like Electricity Production and Training of Iraqi Security Forces. “More than $100 billion has been devoted to rebuilding Iraq, mainly thanks to American taxpayers and Iraqi oil revenues, but nearly five years into the conflict, output in critical areas like water and electricity remain below United States goals, federal oversight officials reported to Congress on Tuesday… Among the major expenditures on the American side is what the accountability office estimates to be $19 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces and $7 billion to rehabilitate the country’s oil and electricity sectors. Even so, despite endless American press releases on Iraqi forces taking over responsibility for parts of the country, the office estimates that just 10 of 140 Iraqi Army, national police and special operations units were in fact operating independently as of September.” [New York Times, 10/31/07]

WILL PRESIDENT BUSH HOLD THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLE AS HE SAID HE WOULD?

President Bush Made It Clear to the Iraqi Government a Year Ago That It Must Act and that America’s Commitment Will Not Be Open-Ended. “I’ve made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

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