Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, issued this statement today after completing a brief visit to Iraq with a delegation of Congressional colleagues:
“What we saw and heard in Baghdad leaves me even more convinced than before that the Administration’s ‘stay the course’ approach will only lead us deeper into disaster. Placing more of our troops in harm’s way in order to shore up a failed policy is unconscionably reckless and only compounds the mistakes already made.
“This country needs to concentrate more on involving regional powers in stabilizing Iraq and assisting with its reconstruction. The Administration has given diplomacy short shrift in its dealings with the situation in Iraq from the start. And while you cannot unscramble an omelet, there are better ways to clean up this mess than throwing more of the same ingredients into it.”
The senior bipartisan group of legislators, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, released the following statement today following their trip to Iraq:
“Our delegation traveled to Iraq to thank our troops for the way they are doing their difficult jobs under extremely dangerous conditions. We expressed our unwavering support for them, and for their families, as well as our hope that they will come home safely and soon.
“In meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, and senior U.S. military officers, including multi-national commander General George Casey, we stressed our belief that it is well past time for the Iraqis to take primary responsibility for the security of their nation. The delegation’s view is that American forces should quickly begin to transition from a combat role to one focused on training, counter-terrorism, force protection, and controlling Iraq’s borders.
“We are convinced that there must be a political solution to the problems in Iraq. The sooner Iraqi leaders make necessary political accommodations, including amending their constitution to resolve outstanding differences among all Iraqi communities, the better the chances for ending the sectarian violence. We encourage active diplomacy in the region.
“We were inspired by the patriotism and dedication of the American troops we were privileged to meet. We left Iraq with a renewed appreciation for their courage and the selflessness they bring to the great service they provide to our country.”
The delegation included Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, Foreign, Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member David Hobson.