Carper Says It’s Time to “Change Course” in Iraq

Supports Resolution to Begin Phased Troop Redeployment This Year; Require Bush Administration to Devise Plan for Long-term Strategy

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2006) – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today called on the Senate to support an amendment to the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill calling for a “course change” in Iraq. Carper is supporting language, authored by Senate Armed Services Ranking Member Carl Levin, D-Mich., that would shift U.S. policy in Iraq away from the open-ended “stay the course” strategy of the Bush administration toward a new direction in Iraq. Specifically, the language calls on the president to begin a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq beginning this year, while also requiring that the president submit a plan to Congress by the end of the year on a long-term strategy for Iraq. The Levin amendment, which could be voted on Wednesday or Thursday, does not include a specific timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces. “This amendment will bring us closer to victory in Iraq,” said Carper. “For too long, the administration’s policy has been ‘stay the course,’ but ‘stay the course’ isn’t a plan for success. Instead, we need to ‘change course’ to ensure victory. This amendment is a reasonable compromise between the extremes calling either for an immediate exit or an open-ended commitment from U.S. forces.” Carper, who visited Iraq last year, said military commanders on the ground believe that the U.S. will increase its chances for victory if we make clear to Iraqis and the rest of the world that we don’t want to stay in Iraq forever and that we’re not after Iraqi oil. Unfortunately, Carper said, the president’s rhetoric of “staying the course” hasn’t helped persuade Iraqis that we don’t intend to stay forever, nor encourage them to stand up and take additional responsibility for their country’s security. “If we begin a phased redeployment of our troops this year and lay out a long-term plan for Iraq, it would send the signal that America doesn’t intend to stay in Iraq indefinitely and it’s time for the Iraqis to take more responsibility for their own security,” Carper said. Carper continued, “The president’s policy of ‘stay the course’ isn’t working for our troops and it’s not working for the Iraqis. Insurgent violence is on the upswing, and our efforts to help rebuild Iraq and increase oil production are at a standstill. It’s time for a new direction in Iraq.”