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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Top Dems Reject 'Surge Option' For Iraq

Top Democratic leaders in Congress are calling on President Bush to reject a "surge" in troops as part of a new strategy for U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote Bush on Saturday to ask him to reject the surge option, Reid said in the Democratic radio address.

"Based on the advice of current and former military leaders, we believe this tactic would be a serious mistake," Reid said. "These military professionals tell us there is no purely military solution in Iraq, there is only a political solution in Iraq. They say adding more U.S. combat troops in the middle ofthis civil war undermines our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their future, and asks our already overstretched military to carry a burden the Iraqis should be shouldering themselves."

Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for Iraq and the Middle East has said "more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more," according to Reid.

"Rather than deploying additional forces to Iraq, we hope the president will make clear to the Iraqi government that the time has come for them to assume more responsibility for their future, and that he will announce he is beginning the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months," Reid says.

"Our troops and their families have already sacrificed a great deal for Iraq," he adds. "They have done their part. It's time for the Iraqis to do their part. When President Bush does come forward with his plan, Senate Democrats will keep working with his administration to help the Iraqis succeed. We have a series of Iraq oversight hearings scheduled this month. We will use these hearings to ask tough questions, demand real solutions, and keepworking to bring this war to a close."

President Bush is expected to outline a new war plan this week.

December was the deadliest month in two years, Reid says. In total, the U.S. has lost more than 3,000 service men and women to the Iraq war, and has more than 140,000 troops serving there.

President Bush is experiencing public disapproval over his handling of Iraq. Iraq was one cause for Democrats to take control of Congress in November elections for the first time since 1994. Reid and Pelosi were elevated to congressional leadership last week when the 110th Congress was sworn in.

Bush started the war because he said Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction. No WMDs have been found.

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