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Public Statements

Iraq War Resolution

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION -- (House of Representatives - February 14, 2007)

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Mr. KING of New York. I thank the Speaker for his recognition and for his usual courtesy.

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today in opposition to the resolution. I have listened as carefully as I can for the past day and a half of debate, and it becomes clearer and clearer to me that those who were supporting this resolution, for whatever reason, are unwilling to accept the consequences of the words of this resolution, unwilling to accept the consequences of what could happen by the adoption of this resolution.

Yes, the resolution is meaningless. Yes, the resolution has no legal impact, but it does send a terrible message. It sends a terrible message to the world that the United States is losing a sense of resolution, if you will. It also sends a very cruel message, I believe, to the troops in the field, because while the resolution goes out of the way to say it supports the troops, at the very same time it is necessarily undermining the newly appointed commander of those troops. We hear from speaker after speaker who was speaking in support of the resolution that this is more of the same staying the course, this is a policy that cannot work.

But yet the newly designated commander, General Petraeus, who was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, is one of the architects of this policy. General Petraeus has stated that this policy can work, that he believes it will work.

Those of us who have been to Iraq and seen the outstanding work that General Petraeus has done, the 101st Airborne, we realize how committed he is. To me it sends such a mixed message to, on the one hand, have him unanimously confirmed as the new commander in the field, and yet at the same time to be attacking his credibility or his competency.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say he is the best man for the job, we have faith in him, and yet say the policy is wrong and it cannot work, and he says it will work and he is the architect of that policy. Think of the message we are sending to the troops. Think of the message we are sending to our allies in our region. Probably most importantly, think of the message we are sending to the enemy of the region.

I just heard the previous gentleman say that those of us who oppose the resolution want to stay the course. I would say that those who are supporting the resolution are the ones who want to stay the course. This is a significant new policy. General Petraeus has said it is a new policy, and it is a new policy.

The gentleman also said that we don't really have to worry about Iraq becoming a haven for terrorists because terrorists can attack us anywhere. He basically said you can do it from an apartment in Hamburg.

I would suggest that if the proponents of the resolution cannot appreciate the distinction between a hotel room in Hamburg and a sovereign state such as Iraq being occupied by terrorists, then they don't realize the impact that Afghanistan had, the fact that the Taliban allowed al Qaeda to have a sanctuary in Afghanistan, how it gave them a strong base of operations to carry out and plot the attacks of September 11.

Now, truly there are terrorists everywhere, Islamist terrorists throughout the world. They are certainly throughout the Middle East, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, they are here in the United States, we know that, in Canada. But the fact is you try to take as many sanctuaries away from them if possible.

Iraq, if we did leave Iraq, and that, I believe, has to be the necessary outcome, the only logical conclusion of where this resolution will ultimately lead us, then we have a situation where we are talking about confronting Iran. Well, the Shiites in Iran will certainly have enormous influence in Iraq. Al Qaeda will have a sanctuary among the Sunnis in Iraq, and then we will have the situation in the north between the Kurds and the Turks. So the fact is no one more than those of us who oppose the resolution realize this is not the only battlefield, but it is a main battlefield.

Certainly al Qaeda believes it is important. That is why we have al Qaeda in Iraq. That is why al Qaeda has been carrying out attacks, that is why al Qaeda was there. That is why we are engaging in Anbar province. By the way, of the 21,000 additional troops, at least 4,000 will be directly confronting al Qaeda in Anbar province.

These are all the issues I feel have not been in any way adequately or sufficiently addressed by the supporters of the resolution. Again, at a time when we have General Petraeus embarking on what I believe is a key turning point in the war, it is really irresponsible to even be considering voting for this resolution.

Now, another point, I know many speakers on my side want to be heard during the time that I will be controlling, but we, I think, have to address the issue of should Congress be getting involved in making strategic battlefield decisions.

I have researched this. I have not found one instance during the history of our country where the United States Congress has injected itself into battlefield decisions.

I was just thinking suppose we did this during World War II, and we had this situation with a small island in the Pacific, Iwo Jima, where almost 7,000 people were killed in less than 6 weeks, almost 26,000 casualties. If we had 24-hour cable news, if we had a sense of disunity in the country, we would be bringing a resolution in the second or third week of the battle saying we already lost 2, 3, 4,000 troops, this one island, how can we have 10 to 15,000 casualties just in the first 2, 3 weeks.

But the fact is we have allowed the President, as Commander in Chief, and that is his constitutional responsibility. We voted for the war in the House. We voted for the war in the Senate. Once we do that, the Commander in Chief, I believe, strongly believe, has the constitutional authority and the right to be deciding exactly the tactical and strategic decisions.

If the Members of Congress want to cut off funding for the war, the fact is some of them may, then the fact is they should say that, not be coming in through the backdoor.

So I would urge my colleagues to realize the consequences of their action. You know, I spoke on the House floor yesterday, and after I was finished the speaker who followed me said I wish that the opponents of the resolution would just stick to the resolution itself.

I am more than willing to debate the resolution. I believe I have. The fact is I can see why they don't want to look at the consequences beyond the narrow language of that resolution, because it will have horrific consequences for the United States. Actions have consequences, words have consequences, and the words of this resolution will have terrible consequences for the United States, terrible consequences for all of us who oppose Islamic terrorism, and terrible consequences for our allies in the region and with whom we need support in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I certainly acknowledge the passion of the former speaker on the floor.

I would just say, though, that all of us have suffered casualties and deaths in our districts. Certainly a gentleman from my former district was killed last week. He was a graduate of Duke University. He was offered scholarships to law school. He was an All American lacrosse player, volunteered to serve in the Army, was in his third tour. His family more than ever supports the effort in Iraq, and you can find families on all sides.

I think it is wrong to somehow suggest that those who died, somehow the families want us to vote for this resolution or against it. We can find sufficient numbers on both sides. Certainly in my experience, most of those would oppose the resolution. I certainly would not impose that on anyone else.

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Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I would suggest to the gentleman, while he believes this plan has no chance of working and it is the same as previous plans, the fact is the newly confirmed general in Iraq, General Petraeus, who is by all accounts the most significant general we have had in Iraq, who is the author of the counterinsurgency policy, said it is a significant change and it will work. That is why I would say that while the resolution says it supports the troops, you are in effect undermining the new commander by challenging either his credibility or his competency. And that is a terrible message to the troops.

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Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I would just advise the supporters of the resolution that while Mr. Clay and others did oppose the war, and I certainly commend them for their consistency, the fact is the Democratic leader at the time and many of the Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate strongly supported the war resolution in October of 2002, both in the House and the Senate.

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Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I would say to my good friend from American Samoa that one of the reasons why I do refer to General Petraeus is he is one of those who put this plan together and he says it will work, and for people to belittle his plan or to ridicule it or to adopt for the first time in history a resolution attacking his strategic plan is an attack on either his credibility or his competency. You can't have it both ways.

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Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, again I would suggest to these supporters of the resolution that the President's key advisers, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace, and the new commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, strongly support this increase in troops.

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