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Public Statements

Appointment of Conferees on H.R. 1585, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Appointment of Conferees on H.R. 1585, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 -- (House of Representatives - December 05, 2007)

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Mr. ANDREWS. Madam Speaker, this resolution affirms the obvious and avoids the necessary. It is obvious that the common goal of the United States, the House, the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, is to avoid a failed state in Iraq. The Senate bill affirms this, the House bill affirms this, and I am supremely confident that the final conference report will confirm it as well.

The issue, as my friend the gentlewoman from California said, is how do we avoid a failed state in Iraq. Sadly, the record gives us many examples of what not to do.

When General Shinseki told the administration that his recommendation was to put 300,000 troops on the ground after Saddam fell, and the administration ignored that request, that is what not to do; when leaders who had studied Iraq in our State Department, our intelligence agencies and our Defense Department said abolishing the Iraqi Army and the Baathist Party in its entirety is the wrong thing to do, abolishing the Iraqi Army, abolishing the Baathist Party in its entirety was the wrong thing to do, it increased the risk of a failed state.

Now I heard my friend, the ranking member, talk about 11,000 Sunni generals, and he is right. The top of the Iraqi Army, the erstwhile Iraqi Army, the top of the Baathist Party should have either been put on trial, put in prison, or, at the very least, removed from those institutions. But the 85 to 90 percent who ran the sewer system and the train system and the bureaucracy of Iraq should not have been fired all at once. It was not the recommendation of the Secretary of State, it was not the recommendation of the intelligence community, but it's what we did, and it's how to create a failed state.

When voices within our government and around the world said that the right way to transition from Saddam's corrupt and evil regime to a new day was an internationally supervised political process, not listening to those voices was the wrong thing to do, and it increased the risk of a failed state.

So, yes, we know all sorts of things. We have learned all kinds of lessons about what not to do.

What should we do? Well, I think what we should do is insist that the Iraqi politicians do what American troops have done with such excellence, to execute the job they have been given. We are thankful that the level of violence has been reduced. We are very grateful for this, and we understand that the credit for that largely goes to the Americans in uniform and to their Iraqi partners fighting with them. We are very thankful for that result.

But we are also very mindful that the Iraqi politicians who have been given a golden opportunity to bring peace and stability to their country have utterly failed to do so. They have not passed a law dividing up the proceeds of their oil industry; they have not guaranteed minority rights in their government; they have not set up and established provincial elections and provincial governments. They have utterly failed to establish a stable government, because we have stood there and continued to hold their coats and let them suffer the delusion that America's sons and daughters will stay there forever.

If you want to avoid a failed state in Iraq, change that delusionary perception. Say to the Iraqi politicians, the
clock is running. The time is drawing nigh when our sons and our daughters will no longer referee your civil war. Negotiate an end to it, stop it, build a stable government. That is how to avoid a failed state. That is the policy underlying the policy of this majority. Frankly, it's a policy reflected in this excellent Armed Services authorization bill, which I hope will promptly be on the floor, promptly be on the President's desk, and promptly get about the business of serving the people who serve us so well.

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