U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Chair of the “Out of Iraq” Congressional Caucus Comments on the Iraq Study Group Report
U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35), Chair and Co-founder of the 73-Member "Out of Iraq" Congressional Caucus, released the following statement regarding the release of the Iraq Study Group's highly anticipated report:
It is clear that the Iraq Study Group (ISG) put aside partisan differences and worked together with the best of intentions to produce poignant and thorough recommendations. However, President Bush and outgoing Secretary Rumsfeld have mismanaged the war in Iraq for so long that the resulting chaos threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East region. The first step in the process to repair the extensive damage caused by the Bush Administration's numerous policy failures is to put the full weight and credibility of the United States behind initiating genuine diplomatic efforts through out the entire Middle East region. Reinvigorating peace talks between Arab nations and Israel must be at the top of that list.
I have also come to the realization that the so-called "when the Iraqi forces stand up, U.S. forces will stand down," policy is an ill-fated concept that, by itself, will result in neither establishing peace and security in Iraq nor bringing our soldiers home as soon as possible. Based on my initial review, it appears as though the ISG report, makes a number of policy recommendations that are necessary to complete the piecemeal approach taken by the President based almost entirely on "stand up/stand down."
For years I have supported policies similar to the ones suggested by the ISG designed to place solid diplomatic efforts before military aggression. In my capacity as both an individual Member of Congress who opposed the war from the beginning and as Chair of the "Out of Iraq" Congressional Caucus, I also agree with the ISG report's recommendation that the United States talk to Iran and Syria as a part of any plan to end the war in Iraq, and I hope that President Bush will set aside his intractable posturing and meet with the leaders of those nations. And, in order to avoid breeding more animosity toward the United States, the President must honor his commitments to help the Iraqi people rebuild their nation.
I do not believe the ISG report goes far enough to advocate a strategy that prioritizes pulling our troops out of the full-scale civil war in Iraq and returning them home to their families. But it does make clear that "stay-the-course" has been an abysmal policy failure, and warns the President that if he does not make a significant change in the way he is conducting the war in Iraq, the conflict will continue to devolve into chaos that threatens to draw in the entire Middle East region.