'Chaos' Reigns in Iraq, Speaker Pelosi Says
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has just returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. She sat down with NPR's Renee Montagne, who asked her for one word to describe the situation in Iraq.
"Chaotic," Pelosi said. "What is happening in Iraq is chaos." She went on to say that after nearly four years in Iraq, "We just have to end it."
While there, she met with various Iraqi and American officials, including the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. She said that in all of her conversations, she was disappointed that there didn't seem to be a political strategy in Iraq to go along with the military strategy. She said that Maliki told her that the increased number of U.S. troops in Baghdad had to be successful in the next four to six months in securing the Iraqi capital.
"Everyone that we spoke to said that this escalation that the president is engaged in is the one last chance," she said, adding, "Many did not believe it would be successful."
Pelosi also criticized the competence of Iraqi troops. She said that she did not believe the training effort had been serious, as the troops are still not ready. But, she added, after all that American troops have accomplished in Iraq — overthrowing Saddam, providing security for elections and a constitution and a new government — it is now an Iraqi responsibility to protect Iraqis.
"Whatever the adequacy of their troops," she said, "it's their responsibility now to get the job done. And the longer we stay the more dangerous the situation, the more deaths to Americans, and the less stable the country."
The speaker did, however, say that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, where she also visited. She said the war on terrorism is in Afghanistan and that the distraction of Iraq led to a power vacuum that the Taliban have used to make a comeback.
"The NATO commander there told us that this could be lost," she said. "Now I did not realize that the situation was that dire in Afghanistan."
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