WASHINGTON – National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said Sunday that pushes by congressional Democrats to put time limits on the Iraq war could doom U.S. military efforts and leave the strife-torn country a hub of international terrorism.
“They want to get a safe haven in Iraq from which they can then destabilize neighboring regimes and come and plan actions against the United States,” Hadley said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” He insisted that the result would justify the bloodshed and sacrifice.
“The cost has been enormous for the Iraqis. The interesting thing is that the Iraqis are nonetheless willing to pay it,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
This week, as the war enters its fifth year, the House will vote on a $124 billion spending bill that would compel the withdrawal of most American forces from Iraq by summer 2008.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said placing specific deadlines and conditions on military operations in Iraq would make it “difficult, if not impossible, for our commanders to achieve their objectives.”
Richard Perle, a strong advocate of the war who served as chairman of the Pengaton’s Defense Policy Board before the March 2003 invasion, was even more blunt on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “What a date certain will do is guarantee the defeat to the United States effort in Iraq. Guarantee it,” he said.
Others strongly disagreed. “If you’re asking me about it, no, I don’t think it was worth it at all,” George Joulwan, a retired Army general who served as supreme allied commander of NATO, told “Late Edition.”
“I think it was not, in fact, an essential part of the war against the jihadis across the world and has been a diversion from that and has put us in a real mess,” Joulwan said.
Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., appearing on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” said the House bill was designed to echo a message sent by voters in the November midterm election that U.S. goals in Iraq should change.
“We’re looking to do everything we can to get the president to do what he must do, which is to recognize that we don’t have a military mission any longer in Iraq,” she said.