WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in response to testimony from General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Iraq:
“Today, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. But they told us very little that was new, and I suspect that they did very little to change the American people’s conclusion that our Iraq strategy is in grave need of a new direction.
“Despite evidence of security progress, even General Petraeus made it clear that ‘we haven’t turned any corners….We haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel.’ While I am grateful for his candor – and even more so for the extraordinary sacrifices made by our brave men and women in uniform – the facts on the ground speak for themselves. Rockets continue to rain down on the Green Zone, Baghdad’s most heavily-guarded section; last weekend, two American soldiers were killed there, and 17 were wounded. The security gains trumpeted by the Bush Administration seem to be dependent on the cooperation of Moqtada al-Sadr, who answers to Iran. Iraq’s warring factions have failed to achieve political reconciliation.
“And despite General Petraeus’s call to keep some 140,000 troops in Iraq well into the fall, the current operations tempo simply cannot be sustained – not without crippling America’s military readiness for years. In fact, as Army Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody testified last month, ‘I’ve never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today.’
“President Bush’s Iraq policy – centered consistently on ‘staying the course’ – is stripping resources away from the central front in the war against terrorism and driving America deeper and deeper into debt. It is telling that neither General Petraeus nor Ambassador Crocker denied a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could end up costing more than $2 trillion, nearly all of it borrowed, by 2018. If President Bush and his allies have their way, another 10 years of occupation, or more, is a very real possibility.
“In the months to come, the Democratic Congress will keep doing what it was elected to do: working to set a new strategy, to achieve stability through diplomacy, to renew our focus on the fight against al-Qaeda, and to address the readiness challenge facing our Armed Forces as a result of this war. The more than 4,000 American lives lost in Iraq can never be replaced. As we honor them, we will continue to strive for a new direction in Iraq.”