WASHINGTON – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight in response to the President’s speech:
“The only thing President Bush made clear tonight is that he is determined to keep up to 130,000 troops in Iraq until at least January 20, 2009 – the day he leaves office – and to potentially leave America mired in Iraq’s civil war for many more years to come.
“President Bush held out a limited troop withdrawal as a significant shift to a nation demanding a new direction. In fact, it is not a change in direction, an indication of a successful strategy, or a response to the American people. It is simply a bow to the reality that there are not enough troops to maintain the surge. And, it means America’s position in Iraq will be the same in July 2008 as it was in January 2007 – when the surge began.
“The President proposes to stay-the-course despite the fact that this week General Petraeus testified that he does not know if our sacrifices in Iraq are making the nation safer and Ambassador Crocker conceded that the ‘surge’ has resulted in limited to no political progress. In an effort to gain support for this misguided strategy, President Bush once again misleadingly linked the war in Iraq to 9/11 and the war against terrorists, even though Iraq had no role in 9/11 and General Petraeus testified this week that ethno-sectarian violence is the main enemy, not al-Qaeda.
“President Bush offered no convincing reason tonight to support staying-the-course. Democrats will continue to fight for a strategic redeployment of our troops, so that we can rebuild our strained military and focus our nation’s strength on fighting the terrorists around the world who threaten our security. We ask Congressional Republicans to join us in pursuing a new strategy that will make our nation safer.”