Sen. Casey Not Persuaded on Iraq Escalation

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senator Bob Casey released the following statement tonight:

“Pennsylvania has now lost the third highest number of troops which just last week went above 140. Today, I am thinking of those troops and their families.

“I have an obligation as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania to support policies that reduce the likelihood that more soldiers and Marines from cities and towns of Pennsylvania will be sacrificed for a flawed strategy.

“In President Bush’s speech tonight and in my meeting today with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, a compelling justification for an increase in troop levels in Iraq was not made. An escalation in Iraq is a plan to repeat past mistakes and not the change in course that is needed.

“The President has increased troop levels by more than 20,000 troops a number of times since 2003 without a drop in the level of violence. I see no reason why this time would be any different; especially as military commanders and leaders from the Joint Chiefs to Colin Powell have expressed opposition and skepticism about a further escalation in Iraq.

“Over the past year, I and others have called for shifting the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq to a role of training and supporting Iraqi troops as they take the lead in security and combat operations. I also called for clear and defined benchmarks for the Iraqi government. President Bush should also commence an intensive and sustained U.S. diplomatic initiative in the region. These elements are long overdue and they should be pursued. However, this should be done without sending more U.S. troops to Iraq.”