Rep. Shays (R-CT): To Succeed In Iraq, We Need A Timetable For Withdrawal

Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) is the latest member of Congress to advocate a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq. Shays has visited Iraq 14 times. This morning on Fox, he said that the way for the United States to succeed in Iraq is to “incentivize the Iraqis” to take control of their own country. The way to do that, according to Shays, is to let them know “there is a limit to our presence there.”

Shays noted that previous timelines — to hold elections and create a constitution — are what has spurred the greatest progress in Iraq. Watch it:


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BRIAN KILMEADE: Our next guest was once an intense supporter of the war in Iraq. Now he says we should set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. How about next year?

GRETCHEN CARLSON: Congressman Chris Shays is in London with us, He’s wrapping up a Congressional delegation trip that including trips to Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Darfur and Rome. Good to see you Congressman. You’re calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq right now which is against what you used to say, which is that you were in full support of the war. Reelection coming up for you.

REP. CHRIS SHAYS: I am in full support.

CARLSON: Is this because it’s become increasingly more apparent according to some that it may be difficult to win elections now with current status on Iraq?

SHAYS: First off, i’m getting an echo, if you could turn off the echo. The bottom line to this is I want us to succeed in iraq. I’m a strong supporter of the war and the question is how do we do that? I’ve been there 14 times, and what i’m seeing since January of this year is I’m not seeing the political will on the part of the Iraqis. They spent four to five months to get a government. You have a new government that’s been in office about three months, and yet they haven’t set time lines on when they’re going to have provisional elections; they haven’t set time lines on when they’re going to have reconciliation; they haven’t set time lines on constitution. My judgment based on my last two visits is they’re happy to stretch this out forever, and in my judgment, we need to incentives the Iraqis. They need to know, there is a limit to our presence there.

KILMEADE: You think that they would want us there one day longer than we have to be?

SHAYS: Oh, absolutely. I think this new government is very happy to have their office. I think they feel it’s difficult for Sunnis and Shias to negotiate. They want it done in the Middle East way, which is taking a long time. They were very critical of the deadlines we set for them, but think of what was accomplished, from June of ’04, a new government set up, then they elected — had a constitutional election for people to create a constitution in January of ’05, they created a constitution, ratified that constitution by October ’05, then they created a new elected government by the end of that year — in 11 months and they don’t want to go on that kind of timetable, but they he need to. The bottom line from what I’m seeing is we’ve seen really no progress since January because they’re willing to just keep stretching it out.