The first Muslim member of Congress says the solution to Iraq lies in an immediate withdrawal of military forces and focusing instead on political and diplomatic efforts.
"We could describe it as a redeployment or withdrawal, but I think we have run the course in terms of our ability to resolve this conflict militarily," said Rep. Keith Ellison, a freshman Minnesota Democrat.
"I think we need to have a political and economic and diplomatic engagement, and we need to encourage the forces that are in Iraq to begin to resolve the violence in Iraq," Ellison said Tuesday during an interview with The Associated Press.
Ellison argued that President Bush's expected plan to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq is "way too late, way too little" to make a difference.
"So rather than do something small and ineffective, why not get about the business of what we're going to have to do eventually, which is to begin to end the occupation?" he said.
Bush is expected to ask Congress for $100 billion in additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I want to see (the request) first, I want to actually look at it, but I'm not inclined to continue to support a war or an occupation that he has no plans to get us out of, and which is so costly in terms of dollars and lives of American soldiers -- but also Iraqis," Ellison said.
Asked for a response to Ellison's comments, the White House referred to Bush press secretary Tony Snow's remarks to reporters on Tuesday. Snow said that Democrats will have to decide where they stand on two issues: "No. 1, do you want Iraq to succeed, and, if so, what does that mean? And, No. 2, do you believe in supporting the troops as you say, and how do you express that support?"
By Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press Writer
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)