September 10, 2007

Udall Blasts Bush, Iraq War

Rep. Mark Udall reacts to Gen. David Petraeus' report on Iraq (video):
Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., blasted President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq as he and other members of the House Armed Services panel prepared to question the administration's top general and diplomat there.

Udall, who also is a 2008 Senate candidate, said Bush has no strategy for the war and that Iraq has distracted and weakened the military when it should be focused on hunting terrorists.

"It's time to do something different and get our military out of this," Udall said in a conference call with reporters.

Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told a skeptical and deeply divided House Armed Services Committee on Monday that the military objectives of last winter's buildup of troops in Iraq "are in large measure being met" and the extra troops could be pulled out by next summer. Their report will shape the next stages in the war.

While Republicans urged Congress to hear out Petraeus and Crocker, Udall and other Democrats were critical even before the hearing began. Udall said it's time to withdraw from Iraq and focus on stopping al-Qaida.

"To continue to referee a civil war is obviously not effective," Udall said. "This is weakening us in the war on terror."
Udall believes that the ultimate solution in Iraq is a "political solution"--turning away from an Iraqi "civil war" to other fronts in the war on terror. He also reiterates his initial and continuing opposition to the war. Petraeus gets a pass as Udall saves his criticism for the Bush administration.

His earlier planned questions for the General
"What comes next? What is the new strategy? And what is the meaning of success?" Udall said of the questions he will ask Petraeus if another legislator doesn't raise those issues first.

Udall, who voted against the 2002 measure authorizing the Iraq war, remains skeptical of the need for the conflict.

In comments just before entering the Armed Services Committee hearing, Udall said the message he wants Petraeus to carry to President Bush is: "Mr. President, there's no strategy. This is still 'stay the course.'"

Udall said he doesn't doubt the troop surge is working "temporarily."

"We have the best military in the world," Udall said. "But we don't have enough soldiers and Marines and airmen and sailors to cover the entire country of Iraq, and the military can only do so much to stabilize the situation. The only solution is a political one."

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