What Tom Allen Saw in Iraq

“Iraq, politically, is a mess,” Tom Allen said at a press conference held this morning to mark his return from a trip to that country, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. “The increase in American forces has led to very little progress on the political front.”


The Democratic representative who’s running against Republican Susan Collins for her seat in the Senate – and highlighting his opposition to the war in Iraq on the campaign trail – returned from his first-ever trip to Iraq on Friday night. While there, he visited with American troops and had lunch with US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and General David Petraeus, who oversees all US forces in Iraq. (Petraeus, Allen was quick to note, “knows he’s not commander in chief…he’s a military commander, not a policy maker.")


What he saw reinforced his conviction that “we need a change of policy in Iraq,” he said. That change can only come in the form of Congress voting for withdrawal, he added, because he doesn’t believe that President Bush will act “unless we basically force him.”


“Setting a deadline is an indication that we’re leaving,” Allen said. “It’s impossible to referee this civil war” between Shia and Sunni Muslims.


His evaluations of the political and military situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan were much more optimistic.       

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