Congressman-elect Bruce Braley says the Iraq Study Group’s call for a “diplomatic offensive” in the Middle East is one of the key findings in the group’s report, which was issued this week.
Braley was among the members of congress who were briefed Thursday by the co-chairs of that Study Group. “Both of them (former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton) have used the example of the fact that when the Soviet Union was pledged to the destruction of this country, we still had diplomatic relations with them,” Braley says. “Their point is that we can’t afford to have no ongoing communications with Iran, with Syria, with the Israeli and Palestinian conflict because the regional conflict is too interrelated to ignore those components.”
Another part of the group’s report suggests it’s time to put more U.S. troops in Iraqi units as trainers and advisors. Braley says that might not involve a net increase in the number of troops sent to Iraq if American troops already there are redeployed into those Iraqi units.
During the campaign, Braley suggested he would vote to withhold money from the Pentagon to force President Bush to begin bringing troops home from Iraq. Braley says that’s still one of the options available, but Braley says he’s waiting to see what President Bush’s response is. “We really don’t have a clear sense of the president’s reaction to these Study Group’s recommendations,” Braley says. “…Until we know that, it’s impossible for congress to decide what the appropriate response is going to be.”
However, Braley says the “candid assessments” of Iraq that were offered this week by the president’s choice to be the next Secretary of Defense were an encouraging sign that changes will be made.
Braley made his comments yesterday during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.