Reid: Iraq war is ‘lost’

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday the war in Iraq is “lost,” triggering an angry backlash by Republicans, who said the top Democrat had turned his back on the troops.

The bleak assessment — the most pointed yet from Reid — came as the House voted 215-199 to uphold legislation ordering troops out of Iraq next year.

Reid said he told President Bush on Wednesday he thought the war could not be won through military force, although he said the U.S. could still pursue political, economic and diplomatic means to bring peace to Iraq.

“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows — (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid, D-Nev.

Republicans pounced on the comment as evidence, they said, that Democrats do not support the troops.

“I can’t begin to imagine how our troops in the field, who are risking their lives every day, are going to react when they get back to base and hear that the Democrat leader of the United States Senate has declared the war is lost,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The exchange came before the House voted to endorse legislation it passed last month that would fund the war in Iraq but require combat missions to end by September 2008. The Senate passed similar, less-sweeping legislation that would set a nonbinding goal of bringing combat troops home by March 31, 2008.

“Our troops won the war clearly, cleanly and quickly,” said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the Appropriations Committee. “But now they are stuck in a civil war,” and the only solution is a political and diplomatic compromise. “And there is no soldier who can get that done,” he added.

The House voted mostly along party lines to insist congressional negotiators trying to reconcile the House and Senate bills retain the firm timetable.

Despite the vote, which was orchestrated by Republicans to try to embarrass Democrats, aides said Democrats were leaning toward accepting the Senate’s nonbinding goal. The compromise bill also is expected to retain House provisions preventing military units from being worn out by excessive combat deployments; however, the president could waive these standards if he states so publicly.

Bush pledged to veto either measure and said troops were being harmed by Congress’ failure to deliver the funds quickly.

The Pentagon says it has enough money to pay for the Iraq war through June. The Army is taking “prudent measures” aimed at ensuring that delays in the bill financing the war do not harm troop readiness, according to instructions sent to Army commanders and budget officials April 14.

While $70 billion that Congress provided in September for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has mostly run out, the Army has told department officials to slow the purchase of nonessential repair parts and other supplies, restrict the use of government charge cards and limit travel.

The Army also will delay contracts for facilities repair and environmental restoration, according to instructions from Army Comptroller Nelson Ford. He said the accounting moves are similar to those enacted last year when the Republican-led Congress did not deliver a war funding bill to Bush until mid-June.

More stringent steps would be taken in May, such as a hiring freeze and firing temporary employees, but exceptions are made for any war-related activities or anything that “would result immediately in the degradation of readiness standards” for troops in Iraq or those slated for deployment.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called the Democrats’ stance “disturbing” and all but dared Reid to cut off funding for the war.

“If this is his true feeling, then it makes one wonder if he has the courage of his convictions and therefore will decide to de-fund the war,” she said.

Reid has left that possibility open. The majority leader supports separate legislation that would cut off funding for combat missions after March 2008. The proposal would allow money to be spent on such efforts as counterterrorism and training Iraqi security forces.

Reid and other Democrats were initially reluctant to discuss such draconian measures to end the war, but no longer.

“I’m not sure much is impossible legislatively,” Reid said Thursday. “The American people have indicated . . . that they are fed up with what’s going on.”



Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. SEAL

    OK senator Reid. If the war is lost, stop funding it, and SUPPORT the troops by removing them from HARM by bringing them home. Put up or shut up.

  2. Steve Horn

    Bring ’em home. All we’re doing by staying in Iraq is offering more sacrificial lambs to Lord Oil. If the war is lost then stop the funding and bring the troops home – that – is demonstrating true support for our military.

    No one can appreciate peace more than members of the military.

  3. Ardie

    Yes, we won the war.

    “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” President Bush, May 1, 2003

    What Bush did–and it is the first time in history–he lost the peace. This would be like our occupation of Japan after WWII where the Japanese gained access to weapons and IEDs, forcing us to retreat!

    Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win By fearing to attempt. — William Shakespeare

  4. JudyB

    If I had an immediate family member in Iraq, I would want Congress to give them the funding to make sure they had secure shelter, and enough food to eat until their flight home…nothing more. If I were one of the members of Congress I would be ashamed to support this useless lost oil war…all in hopes that the troops families would vote for me in the next election. This war and the Congress that funds it should be embarrassed
    and sickened as I am by the maddness.

  5. Sinjohn

    And Let me be perfectly clear that I DO support the troops.

    Number 1: the whole thing was based on lies and whether or not Americans knew that, the rest of the world did.

    Number 2: The military is not to blame for the disaster in Iraq. Bush, Cheney and company are!

    The military is trained to fight wars, not to make or keep peace.

    Here is what I can’t quite figure out, and I ask for any input that makes sense.

    Are they losing/dragging it out on purpose or are they just cretins? I mean, billions have been made off this war, quite a bit of which has gone back into Republican campaign coffers.

    What good has this war done for anyone except for Bush’s wealthy friends and CEOs of the military/security/spook complex?

    Spread Democracy? Give me a damn break! How the hell can Bush spread Democracy when he has driven the final nail into its coffin here at home?

    No one can say, with a straight face, that we have a Democracy. We haven’t for a very long time and we won’t until we get the big money out of politics. Several stolen elections are the last straw, as far as I am concerned.

    Are we going to take our country back and remake our Democracy or are we going to just pretend everything is OK?

    Impeachment is to good for the Bushites, even if there was still time left. I say arrest them the minute the next president is sworn in and bind them over for trial. Furthermore, lets make it a major felony to tamper with our elections, with a prison sentence of no less than 20 years, hard time.

  6. JudyB

    Sinjohn…You don’t need a break you have figured this whole war out…Are they cretins? They sure as hell are behaving like it…anyone who would give funds for troops
    to continue being targets in this deadly, already lost oil war, is to my way of thinking just a coward trying to avoid being chastised at election time. Supporting the troops to me means, getting them home safe & sound with a full belly and VERY soon.

  7. gene

    Having spent 20 plus years in the army I can tell you right now that their are many soldiers in Iraq who would agree that this “mission accomplished” has become “mission lost”. Check out what Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky says above. Suggesting that the troops would be shocked to hear that senator Harry Reid made the statement that this war is lost.

    Well Mr. Senator McConnell YOU might be shocked too know that (more than you would like to imagine) soldiers in Iraq would agree with Senator Reid.

  8. geyser

    The Republicans jumped all over Senator Reid’s statement, proclaimimg he doesn’t support the troops and lowered the morale. This has been the problem with Republicans for a long time, they read or hear a statement, then interpret it the way they way they want it to mean. Doing it their way, usually is not what everyone else hears. Are we to believe, extended tours of duty, shorter time at home and sending the National Guard back to Iraq, is supporting the troops. What is next, sending in the Boy Scouts?
    The Republicans have been hearing lies for so long, they have forgotten what the truth really sounds like.
    One Republican said, the troops are in the middle of fighting a war and Senator Reid tells them the war is lost. He forgot the word “Civil” before the word “War” Then his statement would be true.
    Our Men and Women are physically and Mentally tired. Fighting a war in those conditions will cause lapses of memory, poor judgement and mistakes. There will be a rise in “Friendly Fire” wounded and deaths, a rise in non-combat deaths, More soldiers will go AWOL, more will commit suicide and Domestic abuse will be commonplace.
    Let’s really Support our Fighting Men and Women, allow them to lay down their weapons, get on a plane and come home, to stay.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  9. SEAL

    There is not now, nor ever has been, any member of congress that did/does not support the troops. Also, since the day Little Georgie Top Gun declared “mission accomplished” we have not been at war in Iraq. But, if you want people to view something a certain way, you just keep using the same words and phrases day after day, over and over, and, eventually, everyone else will use your words and phrases until they become considered fact. The Nazis proved that.

    “Support the troops” has an emotional aspect that resonates with the public. No matter what the Bush opponents say, they do not support the troops. In most cases the annalogy is ridiculous. Recently Bush declared that those who wanted to end the war and bring our military home did not support the troops. Today, claiming the war is lost is not supporting the troops. That statement contains both misnomers with both sides calling our occupation a war.

    As long as Bush opponents continue to allow those two completely false wordings to be used in the arguments they will not gain the favor and support they need. The evaporation of public support for Bush’s Iraq excursion is due to his own failures, not because of anything his opponets have done or said. In fact, the only reason he has been able to maintain it this long is because of the lack of any real opposition. And, I fully expect he will be allowed to continue it until he leaves office simply because to actually do anything that would cause an end to the “war” would be “losing” [another one] and failing to “support the troops.”

    I refuse to believe that every single democrat is so stupid that they don’t know that debunking those two catch phrases and the idea of winning or lossing is the way to destroy all of Bush’s credibility and turn all [but the die hard christians] public support in their direction. Therefore, that leaves me to believe that the democrats do not want the “war” to end. Nor will they return any of the rights we have lost under Bush or resind any of the powers that have been transferred to the Executive office because they want to have that kind of power when [not if] they take over in 2008. So, I watch the daily soap opera “Washington Inaction” and wait for the next charlatan to be cast in the lead role.