Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Monday regarding General David Petraeus’ report to Congress:
“When we opened this session in January, the situation in Iraq appeared to be unraveling. Sectarian violence had sharply increased, particularly in Baghdad, since the bombing of the Golden Mosque. Foreign fighters were taking advantage of this fighting to inflame it even more. And two options emerged: withdraw our forces and abandon this fledgling democracy to Al Qaeda and the other terrorists, or confront them directly, in the streets and neighborhoods where they lived.
“We needed a new and realistic strategy to succeed, and we got one. The president proposed, and a Democratic-led Senate unanimously confirmed, General David Petraeus on January 26 to carry out a new plan aimed at protecting the population in and around Baghdad, beating back Al Qaeda, and training Iraqi forces to defend Iraq on their own. The new plan would take time and patience. We had no guarantees it would work. But General Petraeus assured us of one thing. In testimony delivered just before his Senate confirmation, he said this:
I will provide Multinational Force Iraq the best leadership and direction I can muster; I will work to ensure unity of effort with the ambassador and our Iraqi and coalition partners; and I will provide my bosses and you with forthright, professional military advice with respect to the missions given to Multinational Force Iraq and the situation on the ground.
“‘And if he should determine that this new strategy cannot succeed,’ he said, ‘he would provide such an assessment.’
“Tomorrow General Petraeus will give the Senate the forthright advice he promised, a first-hand account by the Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq on the progress of their mission. And then we, the men and women who unanimously confirmed him for that mission, will respond accordingly. This briefing will take place six years to the day after the attacks of 9/11 — when nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed in unprovoked attacks; more than in another sneak attack some 60 years earlier at Pearl Harbor.
“Over those six years, General Petraeus has compiled an astounding record of service. He has spent four of them deployed away from home and away from his family, with nearly three years service in Iraq. Let me say that again: three years of service in Iraq.