Akaka, Abercrombie and Hirono slam president’s pullout speech
President Bush's policies in Iraq are wrong and are forestalling the chances of a meaningful troop withdrawal, according to members of Hawaii's congressional delegation.
In a televised national address yesterday, Bush said he would adopt the recommendations of his military leaders and keep U.S. troops at an increased level in Iraq, although a small number of 5,000 soldiers could leave by Christmas.
"Tonight, again, the president has failed in his role as our 'commander in chief,'" Sen. Dan Akaka, D-Hawaii, said in a statement.
"The president's plan is simply too little too late. To bring the number of our soldiers in Iraq back down to the pre-surge level by the end of next summer, with no commitment for further troop withdrawals beyond that time frame, does not send the right message to the Iraqi government to take greater control of sectarian violence. It is just more of the status quo," Akaka added.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who represents urban Oahu, said Bush has "trapped us both militarily and politically."
"There is no happy ending in sight. We are in a terrible bind and in the middle of a civil war," Abercrombie said.
Abercrombie will be part of a congressional delegation going to both Iraq and Afghanistan next week.
Rep. Mazie Hirono, whose district covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, called Bush's speech "more of the same."
Hirono said political leaders in Iraq were supposed to use the troop surge to stop sectarian violence but that Iraq leaders were unable to act.
"We need to keep our eye on the ball. Iraq is not going to be won militarily. There must be a diplomatic and political solution," said Hirono.
Not announcing plans for a major troop withdrawal, Hirono added, means "the president is guaranteeing we will have troops in Iraq way beyond the end of his term."
Sen. Daniel Inouye was not available for comment.