February 27, 2009

Chairman Kerry Statement on President Obama's Iraq Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry released the following statement today about President Obama's speech on his Iraq withdrawal strategy before an audience of Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C.:

"President Obama committed long ago to be as careful getting out of Iraq as the Bush Administration was careless going in, and this strategy keeps his promise. The President's plan is responsible, thoughtful, empowers Iraqis to lead their own country, and protects America's security interests in the region now and in the long term. This is the responsible drawdown of the great majority of American forces from Iraq with a realistic timetable and President Obama is correct to leave in place a sufficient residual force to complete the training of Iraqi security forces, protect our personnel, and conduct counter-terrorism missions. While many challenges remain in Iraq, including passing an oil law, resolving the status of Kirkuk, and continuing the process of national reconciliation, this timetable strikes an appropriate balance between protecting our interests and holding Iraqis responsible for their future. It represents exactly the flexibility to adapt to the recommendations of our military leaders on the ground that we should want in our Commander in Chief.

"As we signal our intent to withdraw, we must also send a message to Iraqi leaders that we expect continued progress on political and reconciliation efforts, and to Iraq's neighbors that we plan to work cooperatively to stabilize Iraq. Our drawdown in Iraq must be incorporated into a comprehensive regional strategy that brings new leverage to bear in resolving crucial issues including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Lebanon and Iran's nuclear program."