IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION -- (House of Representatives - February 15, 2007)
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Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, almost 4 years ago our brave men and women in uniform defeated the armed forces of a brutal tyrant, and he has been brought to justice.
In the years since Saddam's fall, our troops have won thousands of battles, taken numerable objectives, built schools and utility systems, and provided all types of humanitarian relief in countless villages, towns, and cities ravaged by sectarian violence. But now our fighting men and women are thrust into a civil war that pits religious and ethnic factions against each other. Lurking amid Iraq's civilian population, they mercilessly kill their fellow Iraqis.
These fanatical killers plant thousands of explosive devices and crouch in thousands of ambush positions to attack our troops, who seek to replace senseless sectarian violence with a measure of stability so that the dysfunctional and deceitful Maliki government can survive. To fight and die in the middle of an Iraqi civil war fueled by centuries-old religious hatred is not why we sent our troops into harm's way.
Our troops have stepped up for 4 years. They have paid the price in blood. Now is the time for Iraqi authorities to step up. If they are ever to do so, it will be only after they understand that it will be their blood, not the blood of young Americans, that will be shed to stop the horrific sectarian violence that is tearing Iraq apart.
Throwing 20,000 additional Americans into the carnage of a Sunni-Shiite civil war can only allow the Iraqi Government to continue to shirk its responsibility for the security of its own people, as they continue to use our troops to eliminate their adversaries rather than sitting down and negotiating with them to share power and oil revenue.
After the election, the President said he heard the concerns of the American people and he promised a new plan for victory, but what he has proposed is merely a continuation of the same failed policy. Sending 20,000 more American troops to Iraq will do nothing to further the cause of victory. It will only prolong the agony.
Our mission in Iraq remains dependent on a viable Iraqi Government with both the ability and the will to confront the extremists that are tearing that country apart. The Maliki government has demonstrated neither the ability nor the will to take the action necessary to bring an end to this sectarian bloodshed.
The Members of his government at the highest levels and Maliki's strongest supporters are using their office to aid the insurgents and are directly involved in the sectarian violence gripping and destroying Iraq and killing our troops.
At a time when we should be doing everything we can to promote diplomacy in the Middle East, our attention to resources have instead been focused
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on a civil war in Iraq which threatens to envelop the surrounding nations and further inflame the region.
The effect of this open-ended conflict on our military preparedness cannot be overstated. We have zero active duty or Reserve brigades in the United States that are combat-ready. One quarter of our troops deployed in Iraq are National Guard and Reserves. Our Guard units are stretched so thin, only 30 percent of their essential equipment remains. These units are the ones we depend on in case of domestic emergency. By further extending our commitment in Iraq, we are compromising our safety here at home.
In my home State of Nevada, one-third of our Guardsmen have served in Iraq, and with this surge they will face the possibility of further tours and extended time away from their families.
I commend our troops for their bravery in carrying out their mission. They have not let us down; we have let them down. We cannot ask them to continue their sacrifice while we wait for the Iraqi Government to step up.
I remain opposed to a fixed timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and I realize the grave consequences we face if our mission fails. But that does not mean that I will give a blank check to the President for a surge when he has not given us a clear understanding of why such an increase is needed or how it will help us succeed.
President Bush has yet to put forth a strategy that outlines where we are going, how we are going to get there, how long is it going to take, how much is it going to cost, and at what sacrifice to the American people. He must define the meaning of victory before it is too late. ``Mission accomplished.' ``Bring them on.' ``Stay the course.' And ``we will stand down when the Iraqis stand up.' Our campaign slogan is not ``thoughtful strategies for victory.'
The President has failed to make the case for sending 20,000 more U.S. troops into a civil war with an open-ended mission and a bull's-eye on their back. I say yes and thank you to our troops, and I say no to the surge. I ask my colleagues to join me in doing the same for the good of our families, our military and our Nation.
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