Saturday, September 15, 2007


Olympia Snowe, CBS 7/22/07:

MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator, as a practical politician and who is one who is very good at knowing exactly where the Senate is at any given moment, do you see any chance that anything is going to happen in the Senate on Iraq before the fall?

SEN. SNOWE: Well, you know, I hope that there is a chance; probably less likely, because I know that many senators are looking toward September. But frankly, maybe we ought to be using the time ahead of us to bring up the Department of Defense authorization, you know, reconsider these initiatives so that we can move forward. Every time we have a discussion, move the debate and have votes will bring us closer towards a consensus on this issue. That's the way our position is going to evolve. It's very difficult to get, you know, up and down positions in the United States Senate. But what we have to avoid is the scorched-earth approach to legislating it. That would be a great disservice to the American people. So I would hope that the Senate could come together on this question, look at the various issues.

In addition to that, the president needs to understand that September 15th is going to be a serious deadline for change in our mission in Iraq. Frankly, I think the leaders, both the houses and both branches, should sit down and begin to negotiate a resolution and a compromise in anticipation to General Petraeus' report on September 15th.

MR. SCHIEFFER: After that report comes out, Senator, if there is not a change in U.S. policy, do you believe that the White House can hold the support it now has among Senate Republicans? Or will that support begin to come apart?

SEN. SNOWE: Frankly, I don't think you'll have the support just knowing of the conversations and the positions of various Republicans on many of the initiatives that have been forward. I think it underscores that a critical mass is evolving with respect to our strategy in Iraq. If you look where we are today, I mean, it's been eight months since the election where the American repudiated to stay the course in Iraq, rejected the open-ended, unconditional commitment by the president in Iraq. And here we are eight months later. Who would have ever believed that we would be now committing additional troops of more than 30,000, and the Iraqi government has yet to achieve one political benchmark to reconcile their country. And more outrageously, that they plan to take the month of August off while our men and women are dying in the field. So we're making the military sacrifice, our brave men and women, and yet they are unable to make a political sacrifice to achieve what only they can achieve in the end and that is to reconcile their country and to take charge of their own destiny.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Already we're beginning to hear American senior officers in Iraq say well, we may not be able to tell by September if all this is working. Will the Senate buy that?

SEN. SNOWE: I don't believe so. And in particular because what is pivotal and central to the success of Iraq is the political accomplishment by the Iraqi government. And there is nothing to demonstrate at this time that would warrant our confidence that they're going to implement the political benchmarks that they themselves established almost a year ago. And all the deadlines have come and gone, and nothing has happened. And as General Petraeus said, 80 percent of the counterinsurgency plan is political. In other words, in the final analysis, there's no military plan, no military solution that can substitute for the political will that's absolutely essential to uniting that country. And it's really up to the political leaders. And so keep moving the bar for our military commitment, our military sacrifice and our military participation without elevating the bar for the Iraqi government to make those political decisions is unacceptable.