A day after Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) gave a speech on the Senate floor asking President Bush to reassess his Iraq policy to pursue a path of military disengagement and increased regional diplomatic engagement, Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-OH), strongly reinforced the message by sending the president a letter with an attached strategy paper suggesting a new way forward.
According to a statement from Voinovich's office, the Senator "advocates a reduction in forces as way to advance our interests in the region, including by sharing more of the responsibility for stability with Iraq’s neighbors."
See below for Voinovich's letter to the president and a .pdf of his plan for "The Way Forward in Iraq."
June 26, 2007
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
The United States has been faced with tremendous challenges during your administration. As the United States engages in its fifth year in Iraq, I submit to you respectfully that we must begin to develop a comprehensive plan for our country’s gradual military disengagement from Iraq and a corresponding increase in responsibility to the Iraqi government and its regional neighbors. Though it may seem contradictory, I believe we can accomplish more in Iraq by gradually and responsibly reducing our forces and focusing on a robust strategy of international cooperation and coordinated foreign aid. We must not abandon our mission, but we must begin a transition where the Iraqi government and its neighbors play a larger role in stabilizing Iraq.
As you know, I have been concerned about the situation in Iraq for some time. Nonetheless, I was steadfast in voting against any legislation that would limit or cut off spending for the war. I have consistently opposed attempts to limit your powers as our Commander-in-Chief, and I have openly opposed any form of precipitous withdrawal that would threaten our men and women in uniform, endanger American interests, or abandon the commitment we have made to the people of Iraq who do want our help.
A policy of responsible military disengagement with a corresponding increase in non-military support is the best way to advance our nation’s interests in Iraq and achieve our primary goals: to help Iraqis stabilize their country and improve the security of the United States. However, I am also concerned that we are running out of time.
The commitment of the United States to the principles of democracy and freedom will not falter. Our military has fought courageously and admirably, and it is time to pursue a strategy that combines the resources of our military with the resources of our diplomatic corps and international partners. I have enclosed a brief position paper that outlines my thoughts for a way forward in Iraq.
I hope that you will review this paper, and the many other recommendations that have been proposed, as you fulfill the responsibilities of being our Commander-in-Chief. My prayers are with you and our nation.
George V. Voinovich
United States Senator
cc: Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Secretary Robert Gates
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley