Three of the key proposals found in your letter, then, are already reflected in current U.S. and Iraqi policy in the region.
On the fourth element of your proposed “new direction,” however, we do disagree strongly. Our strategy calls for redeploying troops from Iraq as conditions on the ground allow, when the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of defending their nation, and when our military commanders believe the time is right. Your proposal is driven by none of these factors; instead, it would have U.S. forces begin withdrawing from Iraq by the end of the year, without regard to the conditions on the ground. Because your letter lacks specifics, it is difficult to determine exactly what is contemplated by the “phased redeployment” you propose. (One such proposal, advanced by Representative Murtha, a signatory to your letter, suggested that U.S. forces should be redeployed as a “quick reaction force” to Okinawa, which is nearly 5,000 miles from Baghdad).
Regardless of the specifics you envision by “phased redeployment,” any premature withdrawal of U.S forces would have disastrous consequences for America’s security. Such a policy would embolden our terrorist enemies; betray the hopes of the Iraqi people; lead to a terrorist state in control of huge oil reserves; shatter the confidence our regional allies have in America; undermine the spread of democracy in the Middle East; and mean the sacrifices of American troops would have been in vain. This “new direction” would lead to a crippling defeat for America and a staggering victory for Islamic extremists. That is not a direction this President will follow. The President is being guided by a commitment to victory — and that plan, in turn, is being driven by the counsel and recommendations of our military commanders in the region.
Let us imagine that Harry Reid as the following choices to make, which would he prefer to see come about:
A} Iraq stabilizes and becomes an ally to the United States in the war on Terror. Bush gets the credit.
B} The United States abandons Iraq, it collapses, hundreds of thousands of people die and it becomes home base to terrorists from all over the world. Bush gets blamed.