U.S. Rep. John Larson, an East Hartford Democrat whose 1st District includes Bristol, issued this statement recently about a trip he made to Iraq:
Washington, DC – Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a trip to Iraq this past weekend. The delegation met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Larson confronted al-Maliki with the reality of America’s waning patience with the War in Iraq and the government’s performance there.
Congressman Larson said, “Having spoken with Prime Minister Maliki, I am even more convinced of the need to establish a timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The American people have supported the Iraqi government with life, limb and treasure. Now, it is time for Iraqis to stand up and take responsibility for their own future. It is time for Iraq’s neighbors and the Arab League to help create a stable and secure Iraq. It’s incumbent for Iraq’s neighbors and the international community to step up. It seems obvious to me they are content to see this administration go it alone.
“Americans at home are wondering why our troops are paying the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq, caught in the midst of a sectarian war. The United States is going deeper and deeper into debt to rebuild Iraq while the Iraqi government is running a surplus.
“Iraq’s government must demonstrate to the United States and the world that it is capable of building a strong coalition to lead their country to stability and security. We have yet to see that sort of leadership from them.
“This continues to be one of the worst foreign policy decisions in our country’s history, the scope of which is eclipsing the Vietnam War.”
Republican challenger Joe Visconti just issued this in response:
WEST HARTFORD, CT -- West Hartford Councilman and Republican First Congressional District Candidate Joseph Visconti today blasted comments made by his opponent who demanded that Iraq increase the pace of its takeover of combat operations from US forces, calling the remarks "political opportunism at its worst."
Last week incumbent Democrat Congressman John Larson flew to Iraq and demanded that the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which has won two major battles against Iran-backed terrorists in recent weeks, step up the pace of its combat operations.
"Larson stonewalled our military objectives with rhetoric for years and now he wants to get aggressive?" Visconti said. "John Larson should stop trying to act like a leader in the conflict in Iraq. He doesn’t have experience at it and could do more harm to our military than good.”
Visconti noted that Larson voted against liberating Iraq and preventing that country from becoming a new base for terrorists to launch attacks on the US, then worked against our military objectives as he called for a premature retreat of our troops.
"To put it in perspective," Visconti said, "John Larson lands in a free Iraq, meets with the democratically-elected leader in a newborn democracy, a democracy that American and Iraqi soldiers and civilians died for, which he opposed from the beginning, and now, to cover his own duplicity, arrogantly attacks our new ally."
Visconti also noted that U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker reported Saturday, "You are not going to hear me say that Al Qaeda is defeated, but they've never been closer to defeat than they are now." Crocker said while touring cities in southern Iraq, "The government, (and) the prime minister, are showing a clear determination to take on extremist armed elements that challenge the authority of the government.”
Visconti said Crocker's assessment of progress throughout Iraq shows that "Larson has been out of touch with the realities of what is happening in Iraq as he is in his own district, as evidenced by the lost Pratt & Whitney air tanker contract. He used his position as Congressman to take a taxpayer-funded trip to Iraq to talk directly to a leader of a free country, thanks to Republican leadership, foresight and courage."
"He should applaud the history that has been made: the United States and the Coalition forces' successful liberation of Iraq, and its newly formed democracy where he played the part of naysayer, procrastinator, troop morale under-miner and armchair quarterback.”
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