The following is the Democratic response by Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., to President Bush's radio address to the nation on Sept. 15, 2007:
REP. LANTOS: Good morning. This is Congressman Tom Lantos of California, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Two of our nations most capable public servants came before Congress this week to report on the situation in Iraq. We assured them of our esteem for their professionalism. We emphasized that Americans admire the heroism of our men and women in uniform and the dedication of our diplomatic corps in Iraq, and we fully understand the terrible burden placed on their families.
But when the Administration sent them to speak with Congress, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were given an impossible task: to restore credibility to a discredited policy. We and the American people already know that the situation in Iraq is grim, and the growing majority of this Congress and of the American people want our troops out.
The Administration's myopic policies in Iraq are deeply flawed. So is it any wonder that on the subject of Iraq, more and more Americans have little confidence in this Administration? We can no longer take their assertions on Iraq at face value. And their latest assessment of the situation there contrasts sharply with the deeply pessimistic reports of the non-partisan Government Accountability Office and the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by retired Marine Corps General James Jones.
Strategically, the escalation has failed. It was intended to buy time for Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki and the other Iraqi political leaders to find ways to move toward the one thing that may end this terrible civil conflict - a political settlement. As best we can see, that time has been utterly squandered. Prime Minister Maliki has not shown the slightest inclination to move in the direction of compromise.
Instead of working to build national institutions — a truly Iraqi army, a competent bureaucracy, a non-sectarian police force — Maliki has moved in the opposite direction. Instead of acting as a leader for Iraq as a whole, he has functioned as the front man for Shiite partisans. And he has presided over a Shiite coalition that includes some of the most notorious militias, death squads, and sectarian thugs in Iraq.
In Iraq today, we are ruining our military, forcing their families to suffer needlessly, and sacrificing the lives of American men and women in uniform. The enormous financial cost of this war is limiting our ability to address our global security interests, such as the unfinished hunt for the perpetrators of the attacks on our country six years ago.
To win the war against international terrorism, we must stop frittering away our resources — military, diplomatic, and economic — on an endless religious war in Iraq. With its TV ads, the Presidents address, and every other available means, the Administration is pulling out all the stops to make the case to stay the course for an endless war in Iraq.
The war is also forcing us to give short shrift to pressing domestic needs such as health care, crumbling infrastructure, and public education. These costs will be passed on to our grandchildren, and beyond.
We all heard the President on Thursday night. We can expect the Administration to continue asking for more money, more patience, and more sacrifices from our troops — all in the belief that our continued intervention in Iraq will eventually bear fruit. But this approach is not a strategy. And Americans' patience with this war has run out.
The United States needs a new direction in its policy on Iraq. The situation calls for a change of course. We need to get out of Iraq, for that country's sake as well as our own.
This is Congressman Tom Lantos. Thank you for listening.