Hoyer Statement on Petraeus and Crocker Testimony

For Immediate Release:

September 10, 2007

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today regarding the testimony given by General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker before a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees:

"I appreciate the service and dedication to our country of both General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.

"However, the testimony they delivered today did not provide information that persuades me that the apparent decrease in violence, however much it may or may not be, has led to progress on the political front.  It is widely agreed that political progress is the key to creating a stable Iraq.  In addition, 70 percent of Iraqis believe that security has worsened since the surge began, which is a startling and important indicator.  If the people we are in large part fighting for do not feel our strategy is making them safer, it is clearly time to re-evaluate.

"I am also concerned that the General indicated that the surge could extend until next summer, despite the fact that the reality on the ground does not support such a decision.

"I was disappointed that the testimony did not include more of a focus on creating a 'diplomatic surge' to engage the nations of the region and the world to help Iraq.  I believe an intense diplomatic effort is a critical and missing component of helping Iraqis rebuild their country.

"Finally, I agree with Chairman Skelton and Chairman Lantos that our position in Iraq must be assessed as part of our overall national security strategy.  General Petraeus testified that ethno-sectarian violence is the key problem in Iraq, not al-Qaeda.  Admiral Fallon, General Petraeus's superior, also reportedly expressed concerns that Iraq is distracting from important national security interests in the region.  On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, I believe it is clear that in the interest of our national security, we must effect a strategic redeployment of our troops and refocus our efforts on the war on terror."

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