U.S. Security Adviser Nixes Talk on Early Troop Pullout
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2005 President Bush's national security adviser today dismissed critics who demand an immediate or early withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
"The advocates of these policies share a core belief that the war in Iraq is unwinnable and that America and the world will be better off by abandoning Iraq," Stephen J. Hadley said during remarks given at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here.
"The president respectfully disagrees," Hadley said. "He believes that setting a timetable for withdrawal would send the wrong message to our men and women in uniform and in civilian service in Iraq."
Hadley also quoted the commander in chief's remarks during his Dec. 18 address about Iraq: "Not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq."
Discussion about withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq is welcome as a natural part of American public discourse, Hadley said.
"This is exactly the freedom of expression we and Iraqis are fighting for in Iraq," Hadley said. "But this (early withdrawal) strategy has been rejected by the bulk of opinion in both American political parties, and for good reason."
No one has yet explained why withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq now would improve the security situation there, Hadley said.
"Iraqi forces are already providing for Iraqi security as quickly as they can be brought online," Hadley said.
Second, proponents of withdrawal, Hadley said, haven't proposed how leaving Iraq to terrorists and Saddamists would make America safer.
"We contend it would only encourage further attacks on America," Hadley said.
Third, advocates for an immediate pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq say the Iraqis want American troops to leave their country now, he said.
"This is not the case," Hadley said. "A recent poll conducted by ABC News found that the majority of those (Iraqis) polled want us to stay either until security is established or until Iraqi security forces can secure their country on their own."
Most Iraqis, Hadley said, expect any U.S. troop withdrawals from their country to be based on security conditions and not on arbitrary timelines.
Hadley said the United States is employing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq that is focused on defeating the terrorists there. He said the president agrees with Americans who want U.S. troops to come home as soon as possible.
"But a desire to have our troops come home is not inconsistent with recognizing that we can settle for nothing short of victory," Hadley said. "The path home is the path of success."
The Dec. 15 Iraqi elections stand as a harbinger of that success and of homeward-bound U.S. troops, Hadley said.
"The success of democracy in Iraq will encourage the spread of democracy in the region," Hadley said, "and the spread of democracy in this vital region will undermine the sources of violence and instability that give rise to terrorism, and will lay the foundation of future peace."