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Harman On Iraq: We Should Take ‘Success’ Out Of Our Lexicon; ‘Survival’ Is More Logical

By Faiz Shakir  

"Harman On Iraq: We Should Take ‘Success’ Out Of Our Lexicon; ‘Survival’ Is More Logical"

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ThinkProgress recently sat down with Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee. Asked about her prognosis for the future of Iraq, Harman said, “I don’t think that the surge will succeed because I think our combat mission cannot succeed. And putting more good lives after good lives, as I put it, doesn’t make any sense to me.” She recommended, “we should take the word ‘success’ out of our lexicon. ‘Stability’ and ‘survival’ are more logical.”

Harman noted she “does not want us to leave Iraq.” Rather, she explained, “I’m someone who supports an ongoing mission in Iraq. But I don’t think a combat mission is the right mission.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/04/JaneHarman1.320.240.flv]

The House and Senate will soon begin debate on an Iraq supplemental bill. Their respective bills currently contain provisions for the withdrawal from Iraq in one year. Bush has said he will veto the bill because of that provision. “My advice to this President would be think carefully before you veto this bill,” Harman said, offering that she is a member who could be swayed to compromise.

“There’s a recess going on. There’s time right now for the White House to reach out and engage in helping to craft a final bill that perhaps could show enormous presidential leadership. I would commend the President if he did that,” adding however, “I don’t think the chances are great.”

Transcript:

HARMAN: I don’t think that the surge will succeed because I think our combat mission cannot succeed. And putting more good lives after good lives, as I put it, doesn’t make any sense to me. Changing the mission permits at least a chance for stabilizing Iraq and the government in place, the democratically-elected government to survive. I think succeed — we should take the word “success” out of our lexicon. “Stability” and “survival” are more logical.

And I think many Democrats in Congress — I’m certainly one of them — don’t want us to leave Iraq. We want to change the mission in Iraq. Change the combat mission to a training mission and a counter-insurgency mission.

[...]

I think President Bush is wrong on Iraq. And I think among his other legacies, he may end up having destroyed the Republican Party because people are bailing in record numbers and becoming independents and maybe even some of them Democrats.

So my advice to this President would be think carefully before you veto this bill. See whether there might be something you could negotiate with Congress that could be an outcome that would be in your interest, in the country’s interest, and in the military’s interest. There is no final version of the bill on his desk. The House and Senate bills are different.

There’s a recess going on. There’s time right now for the White House to reach out and engage in helping to craft a final bill that perhaps could show enormous presidential leadership. I would commend the President if he did that. I don’t think the chances are great. But I would certainly urge him to consider it.

[...]

It’s important that we change the mission. The combat mission has failed. There is room — I just said I’m someone who supports an ongoing mission in Iraq. But I don’t think a combat mission is the right mission. Maybe there’s some room for agreement there. And if there is, I would certainly urge the White House to look for it. Because, in addition to the fact that the U.S. is isolated in the world, the White House is isolated in the U.S.

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