“I can tell you that any of the Iraqis in power – Shia, Sunni, Kurdish – of course, they all want us to get out eventually, but not yet. Because they don’t believe that they can hold the country together yet.
Look, I was in Ramadi about a month ago. And I was with a group of American and Iraqi soldiers. The commanding officer of the Iraqi unit asked to speak to me privately. Frankly, I’ve had this to happen before on trips. I thought he was going to ask me for more equipment or better equipment. And he said to me, `Senator, I watch American television by satellite. Please go back and tell your colleagues’–and this was all through an interpreter–`your colleagues who are calling for a withdrawal, that if you withdraw, I’m going to get killed and all my family will get killed, and al-Qaeda will take over Anbar province, and this will be the base for their empire, caliph-led, throughout the Middle East.’
So I think we just have to speak truth to anxiety here, and convince our colleagues that the purpose–I know this war is unpopular. I know it myself because I lost a primary over it last year. I know that the public is frustrated. But, you know, we get elected to lead, not to follow. And we get elected to do what’s right for the country, not just to get re-elected. So this is going to be a week of great challenge for the Senate and for every individual member. And I hope we’ll come through it in a way that will most of all put the security of our country first.