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Senator Warner Recommends New Course in Iraq

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., introduced legislation this week calling for a change to President Bush's plan to increase the troop presence in Iraq. Gwen Ifill speaks with the senator about Congress' plans to alter the administration's Iraq strategy.

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    Senator Warner, thank you for joining us.

    SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), Virginia: My privilege.


    The resolution of disapproval that you are sponsoring, you said it was not meant to be a confrontation with the president, but it is a rejection of the president's policy, is it not?


    No. Let's read the four corners. First, the president, when he laid down his plan on January the 10th, explicitly invited any members of Congress who so desired to make recommendations. Our resolution is not a confrontational document.

    Secondly, we do not call for any reduction in the current level of troops, nor do we suggest that there's any time table. We don't use the word "withdrawal."

    We simply say, Mr. President, we disagree with that high level that you suggested of 20,500. And, Mr. President, we urge you to go back and look at all of the options whereby you can possibly employ fewer troops.

    And further, Mr. President, as you undertake nine different geographic areas in Baghdad, you'll start with one or two, and then, sequentially in a period of time with additional troops, go to the next and next. Let's take a look at the action in the first instance and determine if the Iraqi government and the Iraqi troops did the job that Prime Minister Maliki promised.

    One, they all arrived. They didn't arrive, as you know, in the previous Baghdad surge operation this summer, certainly not in the numbers they committed.

    Secondly, once those troops are in action, under the joint command of an American — with the American troops and with Iraqi troops, the political arm of the Maliki government doesn't reach in and say, "Stop this, or don't do that, or release this prisoner." That's over and gone, as we understand it.

    And, lastly, I'm concerned about the American G.I., man or woman, being injected into the sectarian violence of Sunni firing on Shia, Shia firing on Sunni and trying to kill each other.

    We gave them their nation. It is a sovereign nation now. We're there to try and make that government succeed or whatever successive government may come along. But not the G.I. to get into religious controversies, the hatreds, the animosity that has grown up between these two factions, two cultural parts of the Muslim world.

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