To the Editor

Posted on February 7, 2007

Maura Satchell’s article yesterday said that I had failed to state my position on Iraq. I’m sorry she missed my op-ed in the January 12 Tennessean in which I did that. To summarize its conclusions: 1. The U.S. has a long term interest in stability in Iraq. 2. It is time to get out of the combat business as quickly as possible and into the business of supporting Iraqi forces. 3. This means we need to reduce the number of U.S. troops and concentrate them in more secure base and along Iraq’s borders within the next year. 4. We should embed more American troops within Iraqi units to help prepare them for a leadership role. 5. We will still need U.S. special forces in Iraq to deal with Al Qaeda, especially in Anbar Province. This strategy would send a message to the rest of the Middle East to stay out while Iraq stabilizes. In short, we should base our strategy upon the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a distinguished bipartisan panel that spent nine months looking for a way forward. The president would have been wise to embrace its recommendations in January and would be wise to do so today. (Incidentally, on page 73, that group’s report specifically endorses the idea of a surge if it is part of a strategy like the one I have outlined.) As for the resolutions being debated in the Senate, I will not vote for any resolution that would cut funds from the troops already fighting or attempt to micromanage the war. I voted for a full debate, and I expect that is precisely what we will have when the Senate returns to session on Monday. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Senator