Press Releases

Mar 19 2004

ROCKEFELLER RETURNS FROM IRAQ, SAYS UNITED NATIONS NEEDED TO STEM VIOLENCE

-Senator Says Iraq Remains Plagued by Instability, Danger-

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) returned Thursday from a week long trip to the Middle East.  Rockefeller traveled to Iraq, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Qatar, and Belgium, to meet with troops and officials to discuss the situation in Iraq and the Middle East. The following is Senator Rockefeller’s statement on his trip and the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  

“One year after the United States led the invasion of Iraq, the country remains extremely dangerous not only to our troops, but also to the stability of the world.  One year ago, we were told American troops would be welcomed as liberators, but to many Iraqis and others in the Middle East we are seen as occupiers. We were told by the president that we had no alternative but to go into Iraq because of the threat that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction posed, but to date, these weapons have not been found. These are just some of the issues that have made the post-combat phase in Iraq the most difficult and dangerous part of this war. 

“During our trip, we received several briefings on the progress we have made to bring stability to Iraq, but the reality is that Iraq is incredibly unstable and volatile. In the past year, 572 American soldiers have been killed and 433 of those have died since the president declared an end to major combat. In addition to these losses, approximately 3,800 troops have been severely injured in the line of duty.

“While I was in the Middle East, I had the privilege of meeting with troops from West Virginia and their bravery, commitment and dedication is inspiring.  Even though our troops never hesitate to accept a mission regardless of the danger involved, we need to make the reduction of causalities our primary focus.  I believe the only way to do that is by increasing international involvement and making the U.N. a full partner.   

“Allowing the U.N. into Iraq will demonstrate to the Iraqis that the international community as a whole is committed to bringing stability and safety to their country.   It will show that our goal is not to be the occupier of Iraq which will help to improve our image, and hopefully save the lives of American troops. 

“A year has gone by since we went into Iraq and the questions remain about why we went to war and the president’s policy of preemption.  However, we have to stay the course in Iraq. We have to bring stability to Iraq, otherwise we will be faced with a future dilemma of sending our loved ones into harms way to stop a civil war or the rise of a new tyrant born from the instability that we created.” 

Senator Rockefeller, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was joined in the Middle East by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).