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Washington, DC U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate in favor of the joint resolution calling for a timetable to draw down combat forces in Iraq and change the American mission there.

Under the joint resolution Senator Feinstein spoke in favor of today, the United States must begin drawing down combat forces in Iraq within 120 days of the resolution’s passage.

In addition, the resolution sets a March 31, 2008 goal for removing combat forces from Iraq. It would allow for a smaller U.S. force to remain in Iraq for a limited mission to include force protection, training and equipping the Iraqi army, and targeted counter-terrorism operations.

Following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s remarks today:

“Mr. President. In less than a week, our nation will mark four years in Iraq.

We have spent nearly $400 billion.

We have lost more than 3,000 Americans.

More than 140,000 of our brave men and women find themselves trying to salvage a situation that simply cannot be solved through military force.

If I believed there was any chance that the military could solve the problem of hundreds of years of hatred between Sunni and Shia by resolving what is effectively a civil war, I would believe that this surge and more troops might solve this situation.

But I do not. The only solution rests with the Iraqi government and the Shia majority.

The Iraq of today is embroiled in four different wars – a terribly complex civil conflict that even General Petraeus, our commander in Iraq, says requires a political solution.

Simply put, there is no end in sight. Yet the President insists on escalating our troop presence there.

None of this makes sense.

We must change course in Iraq.

That is why I support the Joint Resolution before us today.

Where the Administration expands our involvement in Iraq, this Resolution sets a time limit.

Where the Administration sees a military solution, this Resolution recognizes that the solution must be political.

Where the Administration calls for more money and more troops, this Resolution says, “Enough is enough.”

And where the Administration fails to put demands on the Iraqi government, this Resolution tells them, “You must take responsibility for your own future.”

The Iraqis must realize that our commitment is not open-ended, and that they must stand on their own.

How can we ever expect the Iraqis to stand up and make difficult political choices if we keep such a large, sustained American troop presence in Iraq?

We are acting as a buffer preventing a solution.
Only the Iraqis can choose to end this civil war.
Only the Iraqis can unify their country.

Yet this will never happen until we begin to draw down our troop levels there.

This Resolution does exactly that.

It is a vehicle for the Congress to show leadership, to tell the President that he has put us on the wrong course, and that a political solution is the key to this conflict.

This Resolution sets us on that path.

It spells out clear deadlines:
  • The phased redeployment of our combat forces must begin within 120 days of the Resolution’s passage.
  • A goal of March 31, 2008 would be established for redeploying our combat forces out of Iraq.

This Resolution also redefines the mission.

A smaller force could remain in Iraq. The mission would be limited to:

  • Force protection;
  • Training and equipping Iraqi troops; and
  • Targeted counter-terrorism operations.

It is in many ways similar to the resolution I introduced last month, which set an expiration date for the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq.

This Resolution fills a void.

It puts a long-term political, diplomatic and economic strategy for Iraq at the center of our national policy – something that, in my view, should have been done a long time ago.

And it is consistent with the views of the American people, whose opposition to this war and this escalation remains strong and sustained.

But instead of following the will of the American people, this Administration is pursuing a surge in forces, which appears to be growing.

This Administration has not set any limits on the number of troops needed, or on the duration of the mission, or the costs to the American people.

In January, the President said he would send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq at a projected cost of $5.6 billion.

Yet just this week, the White House asked the Congress for at least another $2.5 billion to pay for an additional 4,700 support troops for the surge in Iraq.

The costs keep rising.

The Pentagon leadership initially said it would be just a matter of months before we could assess whether the surge was a success.

But the commanders on the ground now suggest that we may have to sustain the escalation until well into next year.

Yet it is clear that our military is under such strain that the only way to maintain a presence of 20 brigades is by extending the deployments of many of our soldiers in Iraq – and by making many more deploy overseas earlier than scheduled.

We are breaking our own military in Iraq, even as it becomes increasingly evident that success cannot be achieved militarily.

Consider these facts:

  • More than 420,000 troops have been deployed at least twice.
  • More than 50,000 troops have had their tours extended through “stop-loss” orders.
  • Troops are being rushed into the field without enough armor.
  • We are leaning more and more heavily on the National Guard – yet 90 percent of the Guard units in the United States are rated “not ready.”

I understand why the President may wish to talk about “encouraging signs” in Iraq.

But the facts show otherwise.

Even while the violence in Baghdad has decreased, violence outside the capital has increased.

Two-hundred Shia pilgrims have been killed in just the past week alone.

As insurgents have left Baghdad to avoid the ongoing military crackdown, they have simply melted away into outlying regions, waiting for the pressure to ease.

And while more American soldiers deploy to Baghdad, the Iraqis have yet to provide all the troops they promised.

There is no end in sight.

This Joint Resolution changes that.

It changes course, and redefines the mission.

I urge the Senate to vote for it.

Thank you. I yield the floor.”