WASHINGTON – The following is a transcript of the Democrats' weekly radio address by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean:
HOWARD DEAN: Good morning. This is Governor Howard Dean.
Nearly four years into the war in Iraq, over 2,500 brave American soldiers have been killed, more than 20,000 brave American soldiers have been wounded, and $2.5 billion dollars are being spent every week as sectarian violence continues. Corruption and fraud are rampant, and the overall quality of life for the Iraqi people has not improved. Religious fanatics harass women and business owners just yards from the green zone in Baghdad and renegade militia within the Iraqi army are fomenting civil war.
In the meantime, the Bush administration has left Afghanistan exposed to a resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda; and taken its eye off the ball in places like North Korea and Iran which have now become greater threats.
Those are the facts on the ground.
The bottom line is that the Republicans don't have a plan. 'Stay the course' is not a plan. Saying the problems in Iraq will be left to the next president, is not a plan. Our troops deserve better.
Democrats are determined to set a different course for our Nation, to tell the truth to the American people, to save the lives of our American soldiers and keep America safe. We want to act now rather than let political wrangling lead to more dead and wounded Americans.
We will defend America, but we will be tough and smart.
A majority of democrats have called upon the president to change course in Iraq. Democrats have also offered a plan that asks the president to responsibly redeploy our troops. We believe that we ought to focus on training, logistics, and counter-terrorism, and we can do that with a redeployment of our troops.
The phased re-deployment strategy proposed by Democrats this week calls on the president to do the following:
First, work with the Government of Iraq to begin a phased redeployment of United States troops from Iraq by the end of this year;
Second, submit a plan to Congress by the end of 2006 with estimated dates for the continued phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq;
Third, we have also told the President that we demand accountability for the resources being spent in Iraq. The cost of the Iraq war will be at least one trillion dollars, enough to finance a health care program for every single American - including our veterans coming home from the war.
Fourth, expedite the transition of United States forces in Iraq to a limited presence and mission of training, providing logistical support, protecting United States infrastructure and personnel, and participating in targeted counterterrorism activities.
Finally, our plan recognizes that during and after the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq, the United States will need to sustain a non-military effort to actively support reconstruction, governance, and a durable political solution in Iraq.
The Iraqi leaders themselves have set a six-month goal for assuming their responsibility for security. Our proposal for the beginning of a phased redeployment by the end of this year fits the goals of Iraq's leaders very well.
We have asked Republicans of good will to come forward to support a policy that is good for America and good for our troops. And some have.
Democrats will continue to offer America a real change, a new direction for our country. We see a country in which honesty, openness and respect is restored to our government. We see an America where we are all on the same team again, working together to deal with problems American Families face, Defense, Security, Health Care, Jobs. We see an America where the Government does not question the patriotism of any American if they disagree with the President.
The parallels between the mistakes being made today in Iraq and the behavior of our government a generation ago are striking. Troops are sent to fight by an administration that refuses to listen to the advice of military leaders. The administration decides it's ok to conceal information from the Congress and the American people. Promises like "stay the course" "Peace is at Hand" or "the insurgency is in its last throes" are made by an increasingly desperate Administration.
A majority of the American people don't believe the president is telling the truth, while the Administration and its supporters question the patriotism of veterans who disagree with them, accusing them of "cut and run".
And among the victims are brave American soldiers who are the targets of an insurgency because of failed political leadership and a lack of foresight and planning. We don't want another wall with 55,000 names of courageous Americans who were let down by their Government.
The words "cut and run" don't belong in this debate. That's a disservice to our courageous soldiers. This debate is about not making the same mistakes our Government made a generation ago.
Democrats believe it's time for a new direction in Iraq that's tough and smart, and we offer America a security strategy that's tough and smart.
This is Gov. Howard Dean proud of our troops, and proud to be part of a party offering America a new direction.