As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and 30 other House Republicans are introducing a bill “chronicling the success of the troop surge in Iraq and warning the new Commander-in-Chief that if he changes strategy, he takes ownership of whatever happens on his watch.” On MSNBC this afternoon, host Norah O’Donnell pointed out that there are still more than 100,000 troops in Iraq and asked King if it was “premature” to declare essentially “Mission Accomplished II.” King insisted he was declaring “definable victory” — but not “Mission Accomplished.” Watch it:
The resolution is a naked attempt to pin George Bush’s failed Iraq policy on President Obama. Of course, many Republican leaders, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have vocally supported Obama’s plans to withdraw combat troops in 19 months and finally bring the Iraq war to an end.
O’DONNELL: Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, 31 House Republicans want to declare victory in Iraq. Some are calling it Mission Accomplished II and a move to pass on the responsibility for what happens from this point forward in Iraq to President Obama. Republican Congressman Steve King is leading that effort, and he joins me now.
Congressman, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.
KING: Good to see you. Thank you, Norah.
O’DONNELL: Why do you want to declare victory in Iraq? Isn’t that a little premature?
KING: Well, I think, first, it’s careful how we define it. The Pelosi Congress set 18 benchmarks to be achieved in Iraq, and I think they thought that they were impossible to achieve. But today they have been completely or substantially successful in 17 of the 18 benchmarks. Our American casualties there since June 30th, we’ve lost more Americans due to accidents than we have the enemy. And there’s 90 percent fewer civilian deaths in Iraq and 98 percent fewer ethnosectarian deaths in Iraq. This measure goes on.
So by any objective measure, there is a definable victory that’s been achieved. And I don’t think this is time to have a celebration, but it’s a time to be able to put a marker down and recognize that President Obama has now given the order there we’re going to be pulling troops out of there. That may be a good tactical decision, but he also has a responsibility to maintain what’s been achieved at such a high price.
O’DONNELL: But, Congressman, isn’t this really — I mean, you’re trying to declare victory. A lot of people say what you’re trying to do is do another Mission Accomplished II, hearkening back to what President Bush was made fun of doing. I mean, isn’t this piece of legislation really just sort of a silly way to try and trap the president and try and make him responsible — solely responsible for what happens in Iraq in the future?
KING: Part of your question I’ll agree with, but I want to be careful that…
O’DONNELL: Which part?
KING: … this is not Mission Accomplished II. The question about, it is now President Obama’s responsibility to maintain the achievements. I think that it’s appropriate for Congress to make that statement.
But he has…
O’DONNELL: Why isn’t it Mission Accomplished II? I mean, you want to declare victory and we’ve still got over 100,000 troops in Iraq. I mean, with all due respect, that doesn’t make any sense at all.
KING: Well, when you say due respect, I know that that’s a clause in there I have to recognize, too.
But I have in the resolution carefully, it says definable victory. Congress defined what that was. The Pelosi Congress defined what that was. That has been achieved. They’ve defined it. The Democrat Congress has defined it.