October has already been the third most deadly month for American troops in Iraq. Since the invasion, 2,814 brave soldiers have lost their lives. Sectarian violence between warring Iraqi factions is spilling out from urban centers into more rural communities. Innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire because there is little or no control over the violent militias.
Last month, the New York Times reported that the Administration’s classified National Intelligence Estimate found that Iraq had become the “cause celébrè” for the spread of Islamic radicalism throughout the globe. It was the opinion of top intelligence officials that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.
Adding to worries in Iraq, according to a government audit released this week, nearly one of every 25 weapons the military bought for Iraqi security forces is missing. Many other weapons cannot be repaired because parts or technical manuals are lacking. All together, the Pentagon cannot account for 14,030 weapons – almost 4 percent of the semiautomatic pistols, assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and other weapons it began supplying to Iraq since the end of 2003.
Despite these deteriorating circumstances, the Administration continues to adhere to their flawed and failed “stay the course” policy. Though the President has recently admitted that the war is trying his patience, he has not presented the American people with either a candid assessment of the situation on the ground nor a coherent exit strategy. This is unacceptable at a time when our nation needs a clear plan for the situation in Iraq.
A bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton is currently reassessing our Iraq strategy. Media reports indicate that it may be making recommendations that depart from the Administration’s “stay the course” policy. The report is scheduled to be released January 2007.
As an early and vocal opponent of this misguided mission, I look forward to reviewing the findings of this bipartisan panel. I remain a strong advocate of redeploying our troops from the region, retaining only a marine expeditionary force near the border in the event foreign al Qaeda forces attempt to gain a foothold in the country.
Leaving our troops in the crossfire of the erupting civil war in Iraq will only further enflame the situation and lead to more U.S. fatalities. This administration has shown it is not willing to change course and we are losing because of this stubbornness. It’s time for a new direction in Iraq.