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Letter to Pres Bush from 41 Democratic Senators on Iraq / 12-14-05

December 14, 2005

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

All Americans recognize the historic nature of the elections for a permanent, democratic government in Iraq on Thursday. We salute our courageous men and women in uniform, who are serving proudly in Iraq under enormously difficult circumstances, and whose dedication and sacrifice are making these elections possible.

Like you, we hope the elections will proceed peacefully and the Iraqi people will succeed in electing a legitimate government that is capable of uniting the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish people. We know that successful elections can play an important part in defeating the insurgency and hastening the day when Iraqis can govern themselves without outside assistance.

We also know that the work of the Iraqi people to build the kind of Iraq we would all like to see does not end with these elections. It is vital that the Iraqis move more quickly toward inclusive political solutions. The four month period after the Iraqi elections, when the new government will attempt to finalize a Constitution, is perhaps the most critical time for the Iraqis and our troops. That is why 79 members of the Senate, including 41 Republicans, voted last month for an amendment that said, "calendar year 2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq." A strong bipartisan majority of the Senate believes Iraqis must now step forward in the months ahead and take the lead in defending and governing their own country.

Your leadership will be essential in achieving this objective. As was stated in the bipartisan amendment that passed the Senate, "the [Bush] Administration should tell the leaders of all groups and political parties in Iraq that they need to make the compromises necessary to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency in Iraq within the schedule they set for themselves." Your leadership will also be needed to ensure that we leverage the influence of the international community and Iraq's neighbors to push for a sustainable political compromise, and that we stand up sufficient numbers of capable Iraqi security forces so that our troops can begin standing down.

Finally, we also believe that you must engage in a frank and honest dialogue with the American people and our troops about the road ahead in Iraq. As the bipartisan amendment stated, "the [Bush] Administration needs to explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq." While we appreciate your recent speeches on this issue, we regret that the American people have still not been presented with a plan that identifies the remaining political, economic, and military benchmarks that must be met and a reasonable schedule to achieve them. We hope you will use Wednesday's speech to finally provide a detailed explanation of your strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq.

The window of time to get things right in Iraq may be rapidly closing. The successful completion of our mission is possible only through the hard work of the Iraqi people and the effective leadership of your Administration. We stand ready to work with the Iraqi people and your Administration in the days ahead.


Senator Daniel Akaka; Senator Max Baucus; Senator Evan Bayh; Senator Joe Biden; Senator Jeff Bingaman; Senator Barbara Boxer; Senator Robert Byrd; Senator Maria Cantwell; Senator Tom Carper; Senator Hillary Clinton; Senator Jon Corzine; Senator Mark Dayton; Senator Chris Dodd; Senator Byron Dorgan; Senator Dick Durbin; Senator Russ Feingold; Senator Diane Feinstein; Senator Tom Harkin; Senator Daniel Inouye; Senator Jim Jeffords; Senator Tim Johnson; Senator Ted Kennedy; Senator John Kerry; Senator Herb Kohl; Senator Mary Landrieu; Senator Frank Lautenberg; Senator Patrick Leahy; Senator Carl Levin; Senator Blanche Lincoln; Senator Barbara Mikulski; Senator Patty Murray; Senator Barack Obama; Senator Mark Pryor; Senator Jack Reed; Senator Harry Reid; Senator John Rockefeller; Senator Ken Salazar; Senator Paul Sarbanes; Senator Chuck Schumer; Senator Debbie Stabenow; Senator Ron Wyden

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