Bay Area House reactions to President Barack Obama’s plan for drawing down troop levels in Iraq were predictably varied, with one major Obama ally’s displeasure particularly unsurprising. Said Congressional Black Caucus chairwman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:
“As one of the co-founders of the Out of Iraq Caucus I opposed the Iraq war and occupation from the beginning and have spent nearly seven years working to extricate the United States from this fiasco.
“I welcome President Obama’s pledge to the American people to end the war and withdraw all combat troops by August 31, 2010.
“However, I am deeply troubled by the prospect that President Obama’s plan contemplates leaving up to 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. It is far from clear how or why troops deployed for combat operations will be viewed differently by Iraqis simply by designating them as ‘support’ troops. Ending the war and occupation means redeploying all troops and all military contractors out of Iraq. It also means leaving behind no permanent bases and renouncing any claims upon Iraqi oil.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to hasten the day when war and occupation of Iraq is ended and all American troops and military contractors have been withdrawn and reunited with their families and loved ones.”
Some differing views, after the jump…
Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, had a different take:
“The country is more stable because of the great sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. The President’s decision to end our military mission on August 31, 2010, sends a clear signal to the Iraqi people that their country’s future is in their own hands. The key to Iraq’s future success and integration into the international community rests with the Iraqi government.
“I am also pleased that he stressed the need for comprehensive engagement across the region. Iraq’s neighbors have a stake in Iraq’s stability and must do more to support its future. By balancing the different elements of national power, including a return to robust diplomacy, we will no longer rely exclusively on the military to promote and protect our nation’s interests. We will use a comprehensive engagement strategy that includes the diplomacy that has been missing for so long.
“Finally, President Obama demonstrated that he fully understands the commitment made to our military and their families when he outlined initiatives that would enhance their quality of life, provide greater educational opportunities, and expand veteran’s health care.”
From Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma:
“I welcome President Obama’s announcement that he will step up to the promise that he made to the American public to bring our troops home from Iraq by 2010. The American public supported him in record numbers last November in large part due to his pledge to finally end our occupation of Iraq, and bring our brave men and women home to their families. At the same time, I am deeply troubled by the suggestion that a force of 50,000 troops could remain in Iraq beyond this timeframe. Call such a troop level what you will, but such a large number can only be viewed by the Iraqi public as an enduring occupation force. This is unacceptable.
“So long as the US is viewed as an occupier, the Iraqis will be unable to achieve the necessary unification, reconciliation, and further democratization efforts that will be required for them to bring long-term stability to the country. That’s why the President must not only pledge to have all troops out by 2010, but invest in reconciliation efforts immediately, and ensure that these efforts work in parallel with the redeployment of combat troops. The faster that we can promote unification and reconciliation, the sooner we can bring all of our troops home. The American public and the Iraqi people have waited long enough, it’s time to bring our troops and military contractors home to their families – all of them and as quickly as possible.”
And from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:
“The President’s announcement today is a testament to the success of our troops in stabilizing and significantly reducing violence in Iraq, and to the strategy put in place by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker two years ago. This strategy has helped us preserve U.S. national security interests and allow the Iraqi people to more firmly take control of their own destiny as a sovereign, representative, and independent nation in the heart of the Middle East.
“The plan put forward by President Obama continues our strategy of bringing troops home from Iraq as they succeed in stabilizing the country. I believe he has outlined a responsible approach that retains maximum flexibility to reconsider troop levels and to respond to changes in the security environment should circumstances on the ground warrant.
“On a recent trip to Iraq with some of my colleagues, we were reminded by both our military commanders and diplomatic officials that while the progress on both security and political reconciliation in Iraq is real, those gains are also fragile and reversible. I am pleased that the President is listening to our military commanders and that we have a plan in place for victory while also ensuring the safety and success of our military forces.”