11/16/2007 — 

MR. REED: Mr. President, today we face an opportunity to change the course and the direction of our policy in Iraq. The other body, the House of Representatives, has sent a provision -- a bridge appropriations supplemental - to us, which includes language that would change this policy. It would change our missions, it would establish a goal to complete the transition to this new mission by the end of next year, and it would invest resources, energy, and effort in diplomacy as well as military activity. I think it is critical to do that.

We have, for the last several months, seen an increase in American forces on the ground, and the sheer presence and effectiveness of American forces has created some tactical momentum in terms of the security situation. But the fundamental challenge remains to get the policy right in Iraq, and that is the responsibility of the Government of Iraq. In January of this year, 2007, the President announced his surge and he said:

I have made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people.

Well, those individuals in this body who oppose the House provision, the changed missions, are essentially declaring that there is an open-ended commitment; that we will not condition our resources and our effort in Iraq. I think that is wrong. And, in fact, it is wrong because what has been acknowledged over the last several days is the fact that the Iraqi political leaders have not seized on the situation in Iraq. They have not followed through.

The President proposed his surge because he thought the Government of Iraq would have the breathing space it needed to make progress in other critical areas. No such significant progress has been made. Yesterday, on the front page of The Washington Post, Tom Ricks wrote:

"Senior military commanders here now portray the intransigence of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government as the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaida terrorists, Sunni insurgents, or Iranian-backed militias."

General Odierno, our tactical commander, the corps commander, indicated if that doesn't happen -- i.e., the Government taking charge -- we are going to have to review our strategy. Well, that is not taking place. We have to review our strategy. Indeed, we have to change our strategy. We have to have a strategy with limited missions, counter-terrorism, force protection, training Iraqi security forces. Those are the missions embedded in the supplemental bridge legislation passed by the House. Those are the missions we should pursue. Those are the missions that are essential to our security.

The Iraqi people, the Iraqi Government, must solve their own internal problems. We have given them space. They have not used it. Now we must seize on those mission which will protect the United States without an open-ended, unlimited commitment of our forces and our resources.

I urge that all of our colleagues join together in a bipartisan fashion and strongly support the supplemental bridge legislation proposed by the House, including conditions which are essential to our progress forward in Iraq.

I yield the floor.