Vitter addresses Iraq war debate in session
“During my recent visit to Iraq with Sens. Voinovich, Alexander and Corker, we had a great review of pressing issues on the ground and an opportunity to see the results of our new military strategy first hand. A few observations in particular struck me during that visit.
“First, it is largely beyond dispute that in the recent months, there have been enormous gains in tapping down violence in Iraq and especially the Anbar province. Those gains are very real and very important. Although there are those who try to isolate those gains to just to a particular region, the fact of the matter is the success is much more widespread.
“While in Iraq we went to Combat Outpost X-ray, outside of Baghdad, and it was a very instructing and inspiring visit because this location is not in Anbar province - where many have been trying to isolate the progress in Iraq. Nor is it a region of just one ethnic population, but it is roughly half Shia and half Sunni.
“At Combat Outpost X-ray I spoke with a Louisiana soldier who candidly told me how much more motivated he was about the mission now, rather than in his previous deployment. He called the difference in the situations ‘night and day,’ and believed that he could see real results.
“I also saw first hand in Iraq something that is talked about quite openly - that is the challenge of matching political progress to the progress we are having in the military plan. I met with both the Shiah and Sunni vice-presidents and saw first hand the unfortunate lack of political progress. But there has been progress on this front since we came home. A group of the top leaders in Iraq – representing Kurds, Shia and Sunnis – have recently come together and signed a letter that outlines the major political and legislative items that they agree must be achieved for success and reconciliation in Iraq.
“My third and final observation, which is perhaps the most important aspect that we should focus on this week, was the focus and insight of Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus. They have enormous dedication, focus, background and real intelligence about what is happening right now, on the ground in Iraq. These two men are testifying right now in the U.S. House and tomorrow in the U.S. Senate. Their reports will play a vital role in the direction of our country’s future policy in Iraq.
“Even though many anti-war and other leftist groups have already begun a politically motivated smear campaign against these two men, I urge my colleagues to take a rare moment of quiet to properly evaluate the thoughts of these universally acclaimed, talented and capable leaders,” said Vitter.
Vitter visited Iraq in August of this year. This was Vitter’s second visit to Iraq and third to the Middle East. He is also a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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