After only two days in charge, Capitol Hill Democrats have sent Bush a letter that suggests instead of starting a short-term escalation that he begin to withdraw U.S. forces within the next four to six months.
“It is time to bring the war to a close” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid declared Thursday. President Bush was also warned that sending more U.S. troops to Iraq would be unacceptable to the Democratic majorities that have just taken over Congress.
Reports state that President Bush may call for a increase of more than 20,000 troops when he addresses the nation as soon as Wednesday. Democrats are trying to preempt the president before he announces his new strategy.
Bush is stated to be considering three main options to bolster U.S. forces in Iraq: a relatively modest deployment of fewer than 4,000 additional troops, a middle-ground alternative involving about 9,000 and, the most aggressive idea, flowing 20,000 more troops into the country.
Senator Reid made comments on the Senate floor Thursday stating, “The president’s new plan must ensure that Iraq takes responsibility for their own future, and remove our troops from this civil war.”
With the new congressional leadership, President Bush’s Iraq policy will be challenged at every turn by lawmakers.
Another key Senate Democrat, Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, also opposes a short-term increase in U.S. troops in Iraq.
Senator John McCain, a Republican member of the Armed Services Committee and himself a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, took issue with Biden’s comments.
In a interview with Washington Post, Biden says he believes top officials in the Bush administration have privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will be the one landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof – in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of the U.S. pullout from the Vietnam War.
As for Senator John McCain he stated, “I believe that the war is still winnable,” he said. “But to prevail, we will need to do everything right and the Iraqis will have to do their part.”
Note, John McCain, who is expected to seek the Republican nomination for president next year has long called for increasing U.S. troops in Iraq.
New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who both are considering a presidential candidacy, arrived at the White House at nearly the same time. After the meeting with President Bush on Friday, Mrs. Clinton did not issue a statement, while Mr. Obama spoke to reporters about his conversation with Mr. Bush.
“I personally indicated that an escalation of troop levels in Iraq was a mistake and that we need a political accommodation, rather than a military approach to the sectarian violence there,