As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade as well as Co-Chair of the Democratic Study Group on National Security, I am particularly well positioned as a leader in Congress on the issue of the Global War on Terror and it's nexus with the Iraq War.
Let me state at the outset that I, the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are committed to ending the war in Iraq as soon as possible and refocusing our nation's attention on fighting the real threats of terrorism around the world.
Our highest priority is to protect our nation from terrorists, but while our American troops and resources remain mired in Iraq, Al - Qaeda, who orchestrated the September 11th terrorists attacks not Iraq, is regaining strength in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is stronger today than they were prior to their attack on our country six years ago. Moreover, after losing the lives of 3,760 American soldiers and with over 27,000 more wounded, Osama bin Laden, the architect of 9/11 is still alive and at large and on video continuing to threaten the American People.
Meanwhile, our Army and Marine Corps are at the breaking point. We have no Strategic Reserves. Many soldiers are on their third and forth tours in Iraq and our military families are at the point of no return mentally, physically and in some cases even financially. All of this is occuring while the Iraqi government remains incapable of stepping up to its responsibilities and achieving meaningful political reconciliation. This situation is unacceptable and illustrates why our current policy in Iraq constitutes our nation's biggest foreign policy blunder ever. Only Iraqi's can solve Iraq's problems. We must move our soldiers out of the cross hairs of Iraq's civil war immediately and move quickly to redeploy, reconstitute and refocus our military. Diplomacy and the critical political and economic reconciliation components of the rebuilding process in Iraq are truly lacking. Because of this I and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are providing the leadership necessary to end the occupation of Iraq.
America must only commit our young men and women into battle when all other means are exhausted and only against those who attack us or pose an immediate threat to the safety of our nation. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has not honored this proven advice and we are paying a heavy price.
President Bush's policy appears to be to continue to advance the War on Iraq and then hand the war over to the next President to deal with. This is absolutely wrong. And, this is ironically creating a system that is draining our resources, over-stretching our military powers and weakening the national borders of the United States. The demand for our military forces is exceeding the capacity of our all-volunteer service. The political leadership at the Department of Defense has broken its pledge to not keep soldiers in Iraq for more than 12 months at a time and to give soldiers at least a full year at home before redeploying them again to Iraq. The National Guard, which is designed to be used to maintain and protect our homeland, has been pulled from this important duty and deployed to Iraq, further weakening our borders and exposing the United States to serious immigration threats.
It is evident that by continuing with this war America is not safer as asserted by General Petraeus himself in his recent testimony before Congress. Instead we have been exposed to greater dangers in the future. We can, we must and we will do better. America deserves the best leadership in the fight against terror and we must begin by ending the misguided War in Iraq and putting America's vital interests first.