Menendez: America Needs To Change The Course In Iraq

Menendez: America Needs To Change The Course In Iraq

Senator announces intention to support Levin, Kerry amendments on Iraq war, Lauds call to begin phased redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq

Washington - Citing the urgent need to change the course in Iraq, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced his intention to support amendments offered by both Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA). The measure introduced by Levin calls for President Bush to begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq this year, with the Kerry amendment calling for the aggregate of troop redeployment to be completed by July of next year.

In a speech prepared for delivery on the U.S. Senate floor, Menendez said the amendments implemented in concert would indeed set a new direction on the Iraq war and would bring the Iraqi government closer to sovereign rule.

Clearly, it is time to change the course, Menendez said. We need a new direction in Iraq. Thats why I am supporting the Levin and Kerry amendments today.

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki supports a transfer of responsibility for 16 out of 18 provinces by the end of this year and his security advisor believes that we can reduce coalition forces to less than 100,000 by the end of this year with most of the multinational force gone. The Iraqis are clearly saying that they are ready for this transition to happen. If the Iraqis are to be respected as a sovereign government, as many argued on the floor of the Senate a few days ago, shouldnt we respect their knowledge and wishes on the future of their country?

I voted against the Iraq war when many on the other side tried to falsely characterize those of us who didnt believe the evidence that the administration presented, who thought we should work through the international process, who didnt believe the administration had done any post-war planning. For standing up for what we believed in, they tried to mischaracterize us as anti-American and unpatriotic. I was willing to take a difficult stand, and stand up for what I believed was right for the country and for the people of New Jersey. Thats why I voted against the war.

Today, with over 2,500 lives lost, almost $320 billion spent in national treasure, with $8 billion used each month, I know I made the right decision.

The Senate has an opportunity to act now, to enact a policy worthy of the sacrifice of our soldiers."