Democrats Reject 'Troop Surge' Option for Iraq

July 7, 2008 - 7:32 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Democrats are "anxiously awaiting" President Bush's "new war plan," which he's expected to announce this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the nation over the weekend.

In the Democratic radio address on Saturday, Reid said it's time to bring the U.S. troops home: "These troops and their families have given so much, they now deserve a strategy that will bring this war to a close."

Reid noted that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Bush last Friday, expressing "our hope" that Bush will reject "the so-called 'surge option,'" that would send thousands more combat troops to Baghdad to quell sectarian violence.

Reid said Democrats believe such a tactic would be a "serious mistake." He said military professionals tell Democrats "there is no purely military solution in Iraq, there is only a political solution in Iraq.

"They say adding more U.S. combat troops in the middle of this civil war undermines our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their future, and asks our already overstretched military to carry a burden the Iraqis should be shouldering themselves," Reid said.

Instead of sending more troops to Iraq, Reid urged President Bush to "make clear to the Iraqi government that the time has come for them to assume more responsibility for their future, and that he will announce he is beginning the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months."

It's time for the Iraqis to do their part, Reid said. But he also promised that Senate Democrats will "keep working with the administration to help the Iraqis succeed."

Reid said Democrats will use congressional "oversight" hearings to "ask tough questions, demand real solutions, and keep working to bring this war to a close."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be called before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday to defend President Bush's "troop surge" strategy, the Washington Post reported today.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings on the situation in Iraq on Wednesday, the report said.

This marks a shift for Democrats, who planned to focus mostly on domestic issues in the first few weeks of the new Congress.

According to the New York Times, President Bush will propose sending up to 20,000 more combat troops to Baghdad, and he's also expected to propose a $1 billion jobs program for Iraqi civilians.

President Bush is expected to announce the shift in his Iraq strategy in a nationally televised speech, probably on Wednesday, press reports said.

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