GCN Guest Opinion
Iraq Debate Sending Poor Message
by: Sen. Trent Lott
Filed 2/04/07 GCN
don’t know whether the President’s proposed troop surge in Iraq will
work. None of us do. It may not be a perfect plan, but leaders can’t
dwell on what we don’t know. We’ve got to use what we do know – making
decisions that can produce positive results for our country. Having said
that, here are the things we know:
Bush is the Commander in Chief of our armed forces. The Senate
is awash right now with non-binding resolutions about the Iraq War which
basically mean nothing. Though they have no authority to stop it, some
in Washington are trumpeting their opposition to the President’s planned
troop surge in Iraq, yet are offering no alternative other than toothless
resolutions rebuking the President.
All this hollow sound and fury does nothing
to help our troops, nothing to help stabilize Iraq, but it sends a very
poor message to our allies and enemies. America needs real plans that
stand real chances of getting it right. Non-binding Senate resolutions
can’t win battles. Our Commander in Chief has offered a plan that does
stand a chance of changing the dynamics in Iraq and producing a positive
David Petraeus was confirmed as Commander of the Multinational Force in
Iraq, which oversees all U.S. forces there, by an overwhelming 81-0 vote
in the U.S. Senate. Senators of both parties and military
experts throughout the globe recognize that General Petraeus is perhaps
the world’s best commander in the type of anti-insurgency tactics needed
That is why he got an overwhelming,
bipartisan affirmation two weeks ago when he was confirmed. Senators who
voted with such confidence in this man should give him the resources and
tools he needs to do his job with success.
Just as cutting off funds for our troops
would send a bad message, ignoring our top general’s advice would be
equally counter productive, especially as he is just now taking command.
That, too, would send a mixed, negative message to our troops and our
allies, and it’s all too obvious what kind of emboldening propaganda
value this would provide our enemies.
Iraqis have to do more. The failure or success of the budding
Iraqi democracy will be in the hands of Iraqis themselves. I recently met
with the Vice President of Iraq who asked me, “What’s the American
strategy for Iraq?” “No, sir,” I bluntly replied. “The question is, what
is the Iraqi strategy for Iraq?” I reminded him that the Iraqi government
is his government and that Iraq is his country. I told him the American
people expect the Iraqis to do more to solve their own security problems
and address the warring factions in their own population. Iraqis must
recognize the historic opportunity they have to create a free, prosperous
nation. Only they can resolve to build it. No nation, not even America,
can do it for them.
leadership is crucial. America is almost alone in our ability
and determination to fight terrorists and stand up to terrorist-supporting
states. I recently met with a group of world leaders and asked them what
they thought America ought to do in Iraq – stay or leave? They all said,
“You can’t leave.” They feared our leaving would serve only to
destabilize the country. When I asked what they thought we should do if
we stay, they had no answers.
It’s up to us as Americans to help our
troops better secure Iraq in the short term. And it’s up to the Iraqis
themselves to create a successful, free and democratic nation for the long
term. No American knows what the future holds, but we know that just
quitting after investing so much treasure and lives isn’t a solution. We
know we’re on the side of freedom. The only responsible option we have
before us is to take that knowledge, add it to the other things we know,
and move forward.
Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column.
Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building,
Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office) or