(Senate - January 30, 2007)

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[Page S1322]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, today in Iraq we sadly find ourselves at 
the very point I feared when I opposed giving the President the open-
ended authority to wage this war in 2002, an occupation of undetermined 
length and undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences in the 
midst of a country torn by civil war.
  The American people have waited. The American people have been 
patient. We have given chance after chance for a resolution that has 
not come and, more importantly, watched with horror and grief at the 
tragic loss of thousands of brave young American soldiers.
  The time for waiting in Iraq is over. The days of our open-ended 
commitment must come to a close. The need to bring this war to an end 
is here.
  That is why today I am introducing the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 
2007. This plan would not only place a cap on the number of troops in 
Iraq and stop the escalation; more importantly, it would begin a phased 
redeployment of United States forces with the goal of removing all 
United States combat forces from Iraq by March 31, 2008, consistent 
with the expectations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that the 
President has so assiduously ignored.
  The redeployment of troops to the United States, Afghanistan, and 
elsewhere in the region would begin no later than May 1 of this year, 
toward the end of the timeframe I first proposed in a speech more than 
2 months ago.
  In a civil war where no military solution exists, this redeployment 
remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi Government to achieve 
the political settlement between its warring factions, that can slow 
the bloodshed and promote stability. My plan allows for a limited 
number of United States troops to remain as basic force protection, to 
engage in counterterrorism, and to continue the training of Iraqi 
security forces.
  If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the 13 benchmarks for 
progress laid out by the Bush administration itself, this plan also 
allows for the temporary suspension of the redeployment, provided 
Congress agrees that the benchmarks have actually been met and that the 
suspension is in the national security interest of the United States.
  The United States military has performed valiantly and brilliantly in 
Iraq. Our troops have done all we have asked them to do and more, but 
no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at 
the heart of somebody else's civil war, nor settle the grievances in 
the hearts of the combatants.
  It is my firm belief that the responsible course of action for the 
United States, for Iraq and for our troops, is to oppose this reckless 
escalation and to pursue a new policy. This policy I have laid out is 
consistent with what I have advocated for well over a year, with many 
of the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, and with 
what the American people demanded in the November election.

  When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and 
assurances, for waiting and for patience, is over. Too many lives have 
been lost and too many billions of dollars have been spent for us to 
trust the President on another tired and failed policy that is opposed 
by generals and experts, Democrats and Republicans, Americans, and many 
of the Iraqis themselves.
  It is time for us to fundamentally change our policy. It is time to 
give the Iraqis back their country. And it is time to refocus America's 
efforts on the challenges we face at home and the wider struggle 
against terror yet to be won.
  Thank you very much, Mr. President.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Menendez). Without objection, it is so