Levin, Collins, Reed Urge President to Tell Iraqi Leaders that Prompt Political Settlement is a Condition of Continued U.S. Presence

Sunday, March 12, 2006

WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), called on the president today to make it clear to Iraqi leaders that a prompt political settlement is a condition of continued U.S. presence in the country.

The text of the letter follows:

March 10, 2006

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

There is a consensus among our senior military commanders that a political settlement involving the three main Iraqi groups is essential for defeating the insurgency and that the Iraqis need to agree on a government of national unity and make significant compromises to amend their Constitution to achieve such a political settlement. A political settlement is also essential to prevent all-out civil war and is a critical element of our exit strategy for our troops.

In the midst of the spiral of violence, it is clear to us that we must act to change the current dynamic in Iraq and that the only thing that can produce that change is a political settlement that is accepted by all the major groups.

But an Iraqi political settlement won’t happen without pressure from the United States. We can’t make them form a unity government, we can't decide who fills what positions in that government, and we can’t write the amendments to their Constitution for them.

By a 79-19 vote last year, the Senate said that:

“The 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 timetable they set for themselves.”

We urge you to make it clear to the Iraqis how important it is to us that they achieve a political settlement, form a unity government, and make the necessary amendments to their Constitution. We believe it is essential that the Iraqi leaders understand that our continued presence is not unconditional, and that whether they avoid all-out civil war and have a future as a nation is in their hands. If they don’t seize that opportunity, we can’t protect them or save them from themselves.

The bottom line is this: The U.S. needs to make it clear to Iraqi leaders that a prompt political settlement is not only essential to them, it is a condition of our continued presence.

Sincerely,

Carl Levin
Susan Collins
Jack Reed