Oklahoma’s Congressional Delegation Reacts To President's Speech

Thursday, September 13th 2007, 10:27 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation praised the efforts of U.S. troops in Iraq on Thursday, but urged President Bush to apply more pressure on Iraqi leaders to reconcile their political differences and stabilize the country.

Bush said he's ordered gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq and said, ``The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home.''

His address came days after General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker told Congress that the infusion of about 30,000 troops earlier this year has helped lessen violence in the country. The president in his speech rejected calls to end the unpopular war, insisting that Iraq will still need military, economic and political support from the United States after his term ends.

``I am very proud of the brave men and women serving in our armed forces. They have achieved many of the goals set out in the current surge policy, which was to improve the security situation,'' Dan Boren, D-Okla., said. ``My belief is that this will only be temporary unless the Iraqi government can bring reconciliation among those involved in sectarian violence. It is imperative that President Bush put more pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to achieve these goals.''

Congressman Frank Lucas said he supported the recommendations made by Petraeus, adding he agreed with Bush that ``decisions on how best to fight this war should be made by commanders in the field, not politicians in Washington running for president.''

``I'm pleased the President reiterated the need for the Iraqi government to take more responsibility for the future of Iraq, and the need for more political stability in the country,'' Congressman Frank Lucas said. ``As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker told Congress this week, the military surge has produced significant results, but more must be done to create a political reconciliation in Iraq.”

``Our soldiers have performed fantastically, but Iraqis, both military and political, must step up to the plate in order to create a safer and more stable Iraq.''

Bush said that 5,700 U.S. forces would be home by Christmas and that four brigades totaling at least 21,500 troops will return by July, along with an undetermined number of support forces. U.S. troop strength stands at 168,000, the highest level of the war.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said he was pleased the number of American troops in Iraq will decrease ``in a measured pace in the months ahead.

``I support the course that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have recommended and the President has embraced. I hope members on both sides of the aisle will put aside their differences and recognize the stakes in Iraq are of historic importance to the United States and that our military and diplomatic personnel deserve the undivided support of the American people as they complete this dangerous but important mission,'' said Cole.