Washington - One year ago tomorrow, President Bush announced a surge of U.S. troops into Iraq, with the main goal of creating a window of opportunity for the political reconciliation needed for lasting peace. In the lead up to tomorrow's anniversary, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement:
"One year after the president announced the surge, the questions must be asked: has he brought our troops any closer to transitioning home and has Iraq achieved the political reconciliation that was the main goal of the surge? Sadly, the answer to both is 'no.'
"Our troops have carried out their mission with valor, bravery and excellence, as they always do, and they continue to be a source of pride for our nation. The problem is with the strategy this administration is pursuing.
"I am concerned that the surge has served to further entrench our troops as a de-facto nationwide police force in Iraq. Our involvement there should be temporary, not permanent, but our military's role is more expanded than ever, with no hope in sight for a complete handoff of security duties to the Iraqis. The benchmarks that we need to achieve still have not been met. It remains clear to me today, as it did one year ago, that only when the Iraqi government and security forces actually believe we will not be there forever will they stand up and take charge of their country. I will continue to press for a change of course in Iraq."