Lugar: U.S. Must Reduce Military Presence In Iraq

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, tonight announced his support for an immediate shift in Iraq policy, calling on President Bush “to downsize the U.S. military’s role in Iraq and place much more emphasis on diplomatic and economic options.”

In a major speech on the Senate floor, Lugar said that “victory” in Iraq as defined by President Bush is now “almost impossible.” The current course of the war “has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond,” he said.

Lugar warned that “persisting indefinitely” with Bush’s escalation strategy “will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.” He specifically rejected claims that withdrawing U.S. forces will increase instability. Downsizing the U.S. military presence in Iraq would “strengthen our position in the Middle East, and reduce the prospect of terrorism, regional war, and other calamities,” Lugar said. Watch it:


Also today, the Center for American Progress released its latest detailed Iraq exit strategy, Strategic Reset, which calls for virtually all U.S. troops to be redeployed out of Iraq within one year. Read more about the report, and analysis from Matthew Yglesias and Spencer Ackerman.

UPDATE: Full text of Lugar’s speech is HERE.