Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently visited Iraq with Sen. John Warner (R-VA) and reported that the escalation is “totally and utterly” failing to produce the political reconciliation needed.
The media is reporting Levin’s comments as validation of Bush’s strategy. Fox News spins Levin’s comments as “praise” for the “surge results.” ABC claims the comments are proof of “success of the surge.”
In fact, in a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Levin conceded that the troop increase has “resulted in some reduced violence in some places in Iraq,” but specifically said the troop increase has not accomplished its stated objective:
[T]he whole purpose of the surge was to reduce violence so that the Iraqi leaders would have the breathing room to reach political settlement. That was the stated purpose of the surge.
Well, that purpose has not been achieved, even though the level of violence has been reduced in a number of areas. The purpose of the surge, by its own terms, was to have the — give the opportunity to the Iraqi leaders to reach some political settlements. They have failed to do that. They have totally and utterly failed.
Listen to a portion of his remarks here:
Arguing that political reconciliation will not occur under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Levin called on the Iraqi parliament to replace him. “I hope that the Iraqi assembly, when it reconvenes in a few weeks, will vote the Maliki government out of office and will have the wisdom to replace it with a less sectarian and a more unifying prime minister and government.”
Levin and Warner met with Gen. David Petraeus for 2 hours. Levin said that the situation in Iraq necessitates that the U.S. begin troop reductions within four months:
[I]t is clear to me that the capability that the Iraqi military now has and will have by the end of this year will allow us to begin reducing U.S. forces significantly below our pre-surge level. We should begin that reduction within four months. The increased Iraqi capability will also allow us to move most of our forces out of Iraq by the middle of next year and to transition the forces that need to remain to perform missions away from the civil war. [...]
I cannot believe, however, that the president is going to do anything less than reduce the level our troops to the pre-surge level, because the way in which our troops simply have been so stretched out that they have very little choice but to do that.