U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan To Visit Iraq

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said he is heading to Iraq along with five other House members to get a better perspective on situation there.

Ryan said he thinks President George W. Bush’s plan to add more troops in Iraq is the last, best chance for success there, and he said that he’s traveling to the region to “get a better sense of things and get a better appreciation for the achievability of this strategy.”

Ryan said he thinks the trip will offer a valuable firsthand look at events on the ground in Iraq.

“We get to talk to Iraqis unfiltered. We get to talk to our soldiers one-on-one. We get to see, with our own eyes, the situation on the ground,” he said.

Because of security reasons, Ryan said he couldn’t get into specifics about his itinerary in Iraq, but he said he is looking forward to hearing from mid-level officers, who he said tend to give a clearer perspective on the situation.

“When you talk to the guys with stars on their shoulders, they typically give you the corporate line. But when you go and talk to the lieutenant colonels, the majors and the captains, you typically get a much better objective, unfiltered perspective,” he said. “Talking to mid-level officers, diplomats and local leaders is, what I find, how you get the sort of unvarnished situation assessment.”

Ryan said he is in frequent contact with friends and constituents who are in Iraq right now, and he said he plans to meet with some of them during his trip.

Ryan said that he thinks the debate about Iraq strategy “is the right debate to have” but added that the House’s approval of a non-binding resolution opposing the plan to send more troops to Iraq is “a mistake.”

“The reason I say that is, No. 1, this plan is already being implemented. They started implementing this plan last week,” he said. “So the fact that Congress is going to send a signal to the world and the soldiers that we don’t think they can accomplish this new mission that they’ve been tasked with is, I think, a big mistake — from a perspective of morale to our troops and from a perspective of sending the wrong signals to our enemies.”

Ryan said he doesn’t doubt the capabilities of U.S. troops but has questions about the capabilities of the Iraqis.

“And that is where you can’t get a good read for that sitting in Washington, going to briefings. So this whole plan, and any plan for that matter, of turning power over to Iraqis and keeping a stable democracy in place hinges on the ability of Iraqis to keep the peace and to keep their democracy alive. And the question is can they do it or not,” Ryan said. “I don’t know the answer to that. That’s what I’m hoping to get a better sense of. “

Note: Stay tuned to Channel 3000 for an update on Congress Ryan’s trip after he returns.