On MSNBC today, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) contended that the generals who have been in charge in Iraq, particularly Gen. John Abizaid and Gen. George Casey, should be challenged on their current recommendations to stay the course.
Feingold noted that he has traveled to Iraq for two years in a row to meet with these generals and solicit their predictions about violence in Iraq. “Their assessments of what was going to happen were wrong. They were wrong about how things were going to improve,” he said. “I think is a mistake [not to question them] and really an affront to the American people, who want us to show them that we can get out of Iraq and redeploy intelligently,” he added. Watch it:
O’DONNELL: Let me ask you about what General Abizaid said yesterday. He said no to troop withdrawal. So what power do the Democrats have, now that they have the majority, to force someone like General Abizaid, the man with stars on his shoulder, to change course in Iraq?
FEINGOLD: Well, this is just more of the same. I talked to General Casey and General Abizaid two years in a row when I was in Iraq and in the Middle East, and their assessments of what was going to happen were wrong. They were wrong about how things were going to improve.
So for us to simply rely on his word now, that we have to keep the same number of troops there, I think is a mistake and really an affront to the American people, who want us to show them that we can get out of Iraq and redeploy intelligently.
So what we should do is, the Democratic House and Senate, along with Republicans that will come with us, should vote to establish a reasonable time frame, I would say the middle of 2007, to redeploy the troops. That’s what the American people want.
O’DONNELL: Are you questioning the competence of our military leaders, General Casey and General Abizaid?
FEINGOLD: Absolutely not. General Casey and General Abizaid are enormously talented. But they have given us assessments of what they thought was going to happen. That doesn’t have to do with competence. That happens to do with whether they can predict things. And it’s very hard to predict things in Iraq.
The one thing we know is that the situation isn’t getting better, it isn’t going to get better, and it doesn’t make sense to further weaken our military and our national security by just staying the course, which is essentially what General Abizaid was talking about.