In a Jan. 8 bipartisan forum led by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, called for the “Iraqis to chart their own course.” Skelton wants any US force surge to have “an overarching goal of redeployment.” The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted forum also featured Armed Services Committee members Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), and Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.). Thornberry emphasized the importance of establishing a national bi-partisan policy that will survive changes in the White House and Congress. “We have to keep Iraq in a larger context” of the Middle East, he said, adding that there should be a strong focus on post-conflict stabilization. In Marshall’s opinion, “We need a Goldwater-Nichols for the United States government” to prepare the US for the global threats of the future. Saxton views the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan as unique in its religious and cultural overtones. He believes the Administration must work more cooperatively with Congress to find a way forward in Iraq.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.