October 4, 2007
Dear Ms. Conover,
Thank you for sharing your views regarding the situation in Iraq. It is important for me to hear your views, and I appreciate you taking the time to contact me.
More than 3,700 brave U.S. servicemen and women have given their lives in Iraq, almost 28,000 have been wounded, and nearly $565 billion has been appropriated by Congress for military operations to date. As documented in a series of expert reports this year, the situation in Iraq is a tragedy - for America, for our brave troops, for Iraqis, and for prospect of Middle East peace.
We owe our troops, their families, American taxpayers and our allies a serious plan to re-deploy our forces and turn control of the country over to a functioning Iraqi government. Instead, the President prefers to stay the course indefinitely-at the expense of our brave troops and $3.0 billion being spent each week in Iraq
Last January, President Bush told the American people that this year's surge of troops would reduce violence and buy time for an Iraqi political solution. Instead, as the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported, the time bought with American lives and money has been squandered. According to the GOA, the Iraqi government has only met three of the 18 benchmarks set by the President and Congress. We are no closer to a political solution that will bring an end to the violence, yet the President insists the surge is working.
In addition, the burden of the disaster in Iraq prevents us from refocusing our efforts on the real threat that is facing America -- fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, tracking down Osama bin Laden, and preventing another terrorist attack against America.
Military leaders have stated that our forces are "stretched thin" and that the current level of troop commitment to Iraq is unsustainable and politically unwise. As a result, there is growing concern at the Pentagon that our military will not be able to adequately respond to a terrorist attack or threat here at home. Moreover, the Administration's plan to reduce troops to pre-surge levels by the summer of 2008 is merely a token gesture stemming more from the lack of available troops than from a new strategic direction.
I have consistently voted to keep our troops well-armed and supplied throughout our fight against terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I have voted to continue operations in Iraq with strategic benchmarks and oversight. And I have consistently voted to raise the standard of medical care for our active duty personnel and veterans.
But after years of failure and diversion from our primary mission, it is time for a change in strategy. I stand with the majority of Americans and the majority of those in my district who believe that giving the President another blank check to recklessly continue pursuing a failed policy is unconscionable. Consequently, I voted against the latest emergency war supplement funding bill (HR 2206). I believe it only extends this nation's greatest foreign policy disaster.
Simply put, it is long past time for our involvement in this tragic episode to come to an end. The Iraqi people are the only ones that can bring a peaceful conclusion to this war. It is unfair to ask our troops and their families to continue to sacrifice while Iraqi leaders have done so little to achieve the political and security goals asked of them. Therefore, it is imperative that we begin the gradual redeployment of troops as soon as possible to protect their lives and ensure the safety of America.
Our troops continue to make America very proud while serving in harm's way. They deserve a better strategy than this Administration has proposed thus far. In the months to come, I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to pressure the President to change his failed course in Iraq and bring his misguided war to an end.
Thank you again for sharing your views. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. For more information and to find out about other important issues that I am working on in Congress, I urge you to visit my website at www.house.gov/timbishop.
Member of Congress