From today’s press conference with the Senate Democratic leaders.
I tried to get an answer to what I blogged earlier today.
I did not succeed.
TAPPER: Senator Reid, what do you say to critics who say, "Look, the Senate voted, including two of you up on the stage, to authorize the president to use force in Iraq. Is there not a moral obligation of the United States to make sure that the Iraqi people are safe before the U.S. withdraws"? It’s very clear that withdrawing U.S. troops might make U.S. troops safer, but it won’t necessarily make the Iraqi people safer.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID, D-NEV: As reported in the news this morning, 69 percent of Iraqis feel they are less safe because of the presence of Americans; 21 percent of the Iraqi people feel they’re safer. That’s pretty clear that American troops who are over there protecting the Shias, the Sunnis and the Kurds — they’re not welcome. That’s the reason that they’re doing a good job of protecting the Shias, Kurds and Sunnis, but they are all trying to kill our soldiers. That is a recipe to bring our troops home. And that’s why the Levin-Reed amendment is so critically important. …It transitions the mission within 120 days, and by the first day of May of next year, our troops will be out of there, our combat troops will be out of there. They will be left to do counterterrorism, training the Iraqis — continuing to train the Iraqis and protecting our resources. That’s what the Iraqi people want and that’s what American people want.
TAPPER: I’m sorry, if I could just follow up very quickly…Do you think the Iraqi people will be safer with U.S. troops out?
REID: It is clear that the Iraqi people don’t want us there. It is clear that there is now a state of chaos in Iraq. And it is up to the Iraqi people to make themselves safe….We can’t do it. It’s time the training wheels come off and they take care of their own country. We have spent billions dollars. We’re now spending $12 billion a month on Iraq. That’s enough. In the last six months of the surge, six months, 600 more dead Americans, $60 billion more of American taxpayers’ money. We, Democrats, unitedly believe that’s enough.
TAPPER: With all due respect, Senator, you didn’t answer my question.
REID: OK. This is not a debate.
TAPPER: Will the Iraqis be safer?
REID: We’re answering questions. (calling on someone else) Yes, young man? Anyone else have a question?
What do you guys think?