Friday, September 08, 2006

Clear Difference On Iraq: Ford Urges New Direction, Corker Wants To Stay The Course

The Republicans continue to try and muddy the waters in regards to Congressman Ford's stance on Iraq. But to their detriment, the facts are clear.

The fact of the matter is Congressman Ford supports staying in Iraq until the job is done. However, that does not mean leave things the way the currenly are. Ford supports a new direction which means having new policies on the ground there. Bob Corker on the other hand thinks things are just peachy there, so we should stay the course.

Below is a comparison that once again shows the clear difference between the two on the issue:

“Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq.” Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, Department of Defense Report to Congress, August 2006.

“I support what we’re trying to do as a country … I think we should stay the course,’ Corker said.” (AP, 7/16/06)

“Mr. Corker later told reporters that he generally agrees with the president on the U.S. mission in Iraq.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 8/31/06)

“Corker defended Bush’s resolve and strategy in Iraq. ‘I support the vision of the Iraqi government that has been on the ground. And I think we need to continue to do that,’ Corker said” (Nashville City Paper, 8/31/06)

Last week, the Pentagon released a report declaring that conditions exist for a civil war in Iraq. They wrote in considerable detail that the country is more violent now than at any time since the war began.

According to the report, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” the number of executions by sectarian terrorists and death squads reached a new high in July of this year, with more than 1,800 bodies arriving in the Baghdad coroner’s office that month alone, 90 percent of which was assessed to be the result of executions. In the last three months, Iraqi casualties have soared 51 percent to nearly 120 a day, and sectarian attacks have increased 24 percent to 792 per week – the highest levels of the war.

In response to the Pentagon report and Bob Corker’s repeated support for a stay the course approach in Iraq, U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. issued the following statement:

“The Pentagon report makes clear what Tennesseans have known for some time: the current policy in Iraq is not working. Bob Corker believes that staying the course is the right approach. President Bush and Bob Corker are well-intentioned, but are just wrong.

“The facts don’t lie: the conditions on the ground in Iraq have worsened. More Iraqis are being killed and more attacks are occurring every day than at any time in the war.

“More than three years after the war began, 2,974 American troops and contractors have made the ultimate sacrifice – more than were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. Many Iraqi cities and towns are governed by sectarian militias rather than the Iraqi government.

“I have supported President Bush when he was right. I agree with him that it would be a mistake to set a timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq. But he and Bob Corker are wrong to say that staying the course is the only option.

“Here is what I would do:

  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be removed. His mismanagement of the Iraq War has set back our chances of winning the conflict, undermined our national security interests in the region and dampened the morale of our troops.

  • To stop the escalating sectarian violence in Iraq, we must do what we did successfully in Bosnia through the Dayton Accords: keep the country whole by dividing it into ethnic federations. We should give Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions, with a central government left in charge of border security and the fair distribution of oil revenue. By guaranteeing each region a fair share of oil revenue and creating a massive jobs program with the help of the oil-rich Gulf states, we can bind each ethnic group and the entire region to the deal and give everyone an incentive to make the country work. This model brought an end to sectarian violence in Bosnia and got Muslims, Croats and Serbs to live together in peace for a decade.

  • Undertake a large-scale effort with our allies and moderate Arab regimes to rebuild Lebanon. This will require our resources and active involvement. The best way to undermine Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon and Iraq is to facilitate the restoration of a stable government.

  • We need to re-start the “Alec Station,” the special unit in the C.I.A. dedicated to hunting down and capturing Osama bin Laden and his henchmen. President Bush knows how important bin Laden is, mentioning him 17 times in a speech yesterday. The C.I.A. needs available resource to catch him. Let’s give it to them.

  • We must develop a long-term energy plan that reduces our dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable and alternative energies, like wind, solar, nuclear and by using Tennessee’s and the nation’s agricultural products. We must also improve fuel efficiency by investing in cutting edge technologies like hybrids and advanced diesel engines and increasing mileage standards.

“The war in Iraq is this nation’s defining moment. The stakes are too high to continue a stay the course approach. And they are far too high to send Bob Corker to the Senate to be a rubber stamp for this failed approach.

“The major difference between Bob Corker and me is that he supports President Bush even when he’s wrong. That’s not leadership. That’s just more of the same. We must and will win the war against terrorism. But we need some new strategies to get the job done.”