WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today made the following statement about the testimony before the committee by General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.
“I have been to Iraq nine times in the past five years, so I can say with some authority that the past year has seen significant improvement, both in the security and political situation,” Senator Inhofe said. “I traveled to Iraq last May just prior to the implementation of the surge strategy, and have visited two times since, and each left me increasingly encouraged by what I witnessed.
“I returned just last week from my most recent trip to Iraq, where I met with Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, Commander Multi-National Corps – Iraq, and was briefed on the current situation. Overall violence in Iraq has decreased dramatically over the past year and American casualties have decreased by 70% since January 2007. The Iraqis have also made significant progress on the political front, as the increased security provided by the surge has enabled the Government of Iraq to meet 12 out of the original 18 benchmarks, including four out of the six key legislative benchmarks.
“Unfortunately, this tangible progress has not been able to deter the defeatists in Washington, who are now claiming that the economic costs of the War in Iraq may in some way be attributing to the current economic downturn in the United States. The truth of the matter is that the defense budget, including all supplemental war funding, has not exceeded 4.5% of our gross domestic product during this administration. In fact, our defense spending is lower than any peacetime budget during the Cold War and the second lowest of any administration since President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“While antiwar politicians a world away have spent the last year attempting to politicize this debate, from ads declaring our commander ‘General Betray Us,’ to efforts attempting to cut off funding for our troops in combat and setting arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal, our soldiers on the ground in Iraq have persevered, our generals remained steady, and our Iraqi allies have grown more capable. The situation in Iraq is improving, and it is improving because of the tireless efforts of General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker and our troops in the field who have successfully implemented the surge strategy.”